Live Recordings for Elvis Presley on Various Locations, 1954 (Possible)
Live Recordings for Elvis Presley on Eagle's Nest, Various Dates 1954 (Possible)
Demo Recording for Elvis Presley, January 4, 1954 (Demo)
Demo Recording for Elvis Presley, June 5, 1954 (Demo Tape Lost)
Rehearsal Session for Elvis Presley, June 26, 1954 (Tape Lost)
Rehearsal Session for Elvis Presley, July 4, 1954 (Tape Lost)
Studio Session for Elvis Presley, July 5, 1954
Studio Session for Elvis Presley, July 6(7), 1954
Live Recordings for Elvis Presley, July 30, 1954 (Tape Lost)
Studio Session for Elvis Presley, Between August 15, 19, 1954
Studio Session for Elvis Presley, Between September 12-16, 1954
Live Broadcast Recordings for Elvis Presley, October 2, 1954 (Tape Lost)
Live Broadcast Recordings for Elvis Presley, October 16, 1954
Live Broadcast Recordings for Elvis Presley, November 6, 1954 (Tape Lost)
Live Broadcast Recordings for Elvis Presley, November 13, 1954 (Tape Lost)
Studio Session for Elvis Presley, December 8, 1954
Studio Session for Elvis Presley, December 20, 1954


With its unanimous decision in favour of school desegregation in the case of Brown v. the  Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the U.S, Supreme Court effectively overturns Plessy v.  Ferguson.

The first families move into Levittown, a planned community in suburban Long Island; as a  concept, "Levittown" comes to signify white flight from America's inner cities.

Salk Vaccine against polio, developed by Jones Salk in 1954.

Traveling salesman Ray Kroc signed California's McDonald brothers to a franchise deal,  bringing suburban America the fifteen-cent burger. Drive-Ins in Memphis offered far more  savory delights and more amenities, and any Memphis teen with a driver's license and  access to dad's sedan regularly headed to barbecue joints like Leonard's and the Little Pig.  Staffed by black waiters offering curb service, the Q joints were favorite hangouts for  teens, who took their pulled pork sandwiches with a side of Red Hot & Blue, as Dewey  Phillips blared from every car radio.


Sheraton Records, a Baltimore record label, were only distributed locally in the north-east,  so nothing came of this development and Jack Clement got tired of the duo with Buzz Busby.  Being a developing "crazy" Jack Clement went off to join an Hawaiian band in Washington,  D.C. He then this year up back in Memphis. That year he answered an advert for trainee  dance instructors and he became an employee of the Arthur Murray School of Dancing on  Main Street. He also went to the Memphis University to study English.

On evenings and weekends, Jack Clement played shows with a western-swing influenced  country band run by a pal of his, truck driver Slim Wallace. Wallace's Dixie Ramblers  played a regular at a spot in Paragould, Arkansas, and while returning one night Jack  Clement and Slim Wallace plotted their entry into the record business later in 1956.


Elvis Presley and his cousin Gene Smith start to attend the First Assembly of God Church in  South Memphis. The Presleys have not attended any one church regularly since their arrival  in Memphis, but Elvis and his cousin are looking for ways to meet girls.

Perhaps the most prominent members of the Assembly of God congregation are the  Blackwood Brothers quartet, one of the leading gospel groups in the country.

Cecil  Blackwood, a nephew of founding member James Blackwood, lives in Lauderdale Courts and  recently started a kind of apprentice quartet called the Songfellows.


Elvis Presley perform at the Memphis State College's Student Government Association in  Memphis, and was sponsoring a blood drive and needed an entertainer. "An SGA  representative had heard Elvis was available... and cheap", said Barbara Burnette Pritchett,  an MSC student in 1954. "We needed something or somebody to help draw a crowd and  decided a guitar-strumming good ol' boy at thirty-five dollars an hour just might do the job.  Elvis Presley performed about ninety minutes and the audience went crazy! The crowd got  larger and larger until the auditorium was filled!". "Elvis", she said, "was dressed in a rather  subdued cowboy outfit, a la Gene Autry. He performed alone with a plain (acoustic) guitar.  My memory of Elvis was that he was extremely courteous, polite and very shy".

Dean R.M. Robison and Mayor Frank Tobey were as astonished with Elvis Presley's act as  they were at the swelling crowd. "The bottom line was... this was the most successful Red  Cross blood drive in the history of Memphis State!", said Pritchett. Too see Elvis, students  had to donate a pint of blood. Girls weighing less than a hundred and ten pounds could not  donate. Many of these underweights returned after having miraculously gained several  pounds almost instantly! "We caught some who tied bricks under their hoop skirts",  recalled Florence Illing, then Memphis State's campus nurse.


Elvis Presley hit the road and performed a one-night spot on the Barnyard Follies at the  Robinson Auditorium in Little Rock, Arkansas, a very poor version of the Louisiana Hayride  and Grand Ole Opry. The Chitling Switch Roadrunners were also appearing on the barnyard  Follies that night and a year or so later, when they opened for Elvis Presley in their  hometown, they swapped stories about that night.

Jim Ed Brown, now a performing member of the Grand Ole Opry, was the star of the  Barnyard Follies and remembers Elvis Presley's appearance that night. Jim Ed Brown later  toured with Elvis Presley during the Sun years.

"Actually, the first time we seen Elvis was in early 1954", said Bobby Bird, member of the  Chitling Switch Roadrunner, "We were appearing on the Barnyard Follies at Robinson  Auditorium in Little Rock, opening for Bill Monroe. This was before Elvis recorded that  song "Mama" at Sun. Elvis had hitchhiked over from Memphis to be on the stage that  night".


At that time, Elvis Presley cut his hair at Jim Thomas Barber Shop at 201 South Main. After stardom  in 1957, the Memphis Press-Scimitar reported the following: "Girls Elvis has his hair cut at  Jim's Barber Shop. But don't rush down to the place. Elvis never has enough sheared off to  make many souvenirs". Thus began the rush of fans anxious to take home a bit of Elvis' hair.

Jim's Baber Shop, 201 South Main, Memphis, Tennessee. Jim Thomas at the door. >

Albert Gale, who had been cutting the rock star's hair since Elvis was not famous,  remembers those days well. "Girls used to come in and collect Elvis' hair off the hair   cloths. It was really embarrassing", he said.

At that time, Jim's Barber Shop was located at 201 South Main Street, where it occupied the   southeast corner of the Malco Theater. In the 1980s, the theater was renovated and   renamed the Orpheum.

As part of the theater's transformation into a cultural center, Jim's   was asked to move. Today, the barber shop is located on North Third Street within the heart   of the downtown business district.


Elvis Presley frequented at Culpepper's Chicken Shack at 204 Hernando Street, Memphis.   When Mr. Culpepper's Chicken Shack opened in 1932, its clientele was mostly drunks and   gamblers, but that soon changed. His belief that everyone deserved the best of service, not   to mention his tasty barbecue chicken, made his restaurant a favorite of Beale Street   entertainers and patrons. What's more, it attracted the attention of Boss Crump, the   political leader of Memphis, and he spread the word to the white community, many of whom   daringly ventured to Beale to visit Culpepper's.

Elvis Presley was one of many young white men who ate at Culpepper's. At any given time   at Culpepper's, one might see men in their working clothes sitting next to a couple in a   tuxedo and evening gown. And one never knew what celebrity might walk into   Culpepper's.

Cab Calloway and Bing Crosby dined there, as did William Holden and Mae West. Bobby   "Blue" Bland and B.B. King were regulars. What appealed to celebrities and working class   alike is that Mr. Culpepper always threaded everyone the same, regardless of their dress   or position in life.

Of course, Elvis Presley felt this way too. Once, someone asked Elvis why he referred to   Mr. Culpepper, a black man, as "Mister". Elvis replied, "I've been calling him Mister all   along, why would I change now''?

CULPEPPER'S CHICKEN SHACK – Located at 614 Vance, Memphis, Tennessee, this ghost pit was the last  in a line of restaurants known as Culpepper’s Chicken Shack, a name that was legendary in early Memphis  barbecue. Four decades of that famous cooking ended tragically here.

The owners, Walter and Hattie Culpepper, started in 1932 on Fourth Street, just off Beale. They served  average folks, gamblers and ''sporting people'' (according to Mr. Culpepper’s obituary), and some of the top  entertainers of the day, from Cab Calloway to Bing Crosby to Elvis Presley, and Stax musicians in the 1960s.

They served blacks and whites alike, despite the deeply segregated society. Mr. Culpepper’s obit stated that  Boss Crump was a patron, which served to blunt police harassment and bring the Chicken Shack to the  attention of white Memphis.

A fire led to a move to 204 Hernando, and the restaurant continued to flourish throughout the 1940s. A  second shop was opened at 1664 Kansas. Around 1970, this building at 614 Vance became the Chicken  Shack’s new home. In 1971, during a robbery at the restaurant, Hattie Culpepper was pistol-whipped, a  beating so severe that her injuries kept her hospitalized until her death in 1992, according to Mr. Culpepper  in an interview for her obituary. He said the attack erased any desire to keep the Chicken Shack going. He  died three years later at age 85.

Ballroom, Cotton Club, West Memphis, Arkansas >


Elvis Presley perform at the Cotton Club in West Memphis, Arkansas. The clubs across the  river in West Memphis were a daunting sight. They were located in small, ramshackle  buildings and had antiquated sound system. The bars were creaky and ill-stocked. The  crowds were abusive violent, and hard to please. Small radio stations that broadcast the  blues would urge people to come to these clubs.

Howlin' Wolf used to come straight from  labouring in the fields to do his show. A hulking man with a soft heart, he loved to see the  white boys playing the blues, and often picked up a great deal from them himself.

"I was singing with Clyde Leoppard's Snowy Ranch Boys at the Cotton Club in West Memphis",  said Barbara Pittman. "Elvis loved the way I sang "Cold, Cold Heart".

Warren Smith (left), Scotty Moore (middle), and Marcus Van Story (front). >

"I really learned my craft playing with the Snearly Ranch Boys", Marcus Van Story recalled.  "We played all types of music from bluegrass, country and blues...". Musicians like Marcus  Van Story and Stanley Kesler grew up with the blues. "It was natural for us to listen to  black music from childhood on up", Van Story commented.

The musicians in the Snearly  Ranch Boys either lived at Ma Snearly's Boarding House or hung out to jam. They included  Smokey Joe Bauch on piano, Paul Burlison on guitar, Clyde Leoppard on drums, Hank  Bowers on guitar-trumpet, Barbara Pittman on vocals, and Stanley Kesler on bass. "Elvis  Presley was around watching what we were doing", van Story remarked. "He was always so  nervous", Van Story continued, "but he was learning about the music, no doubt about  that".

Marcus Van Story played a number of small concerts with Elvis Presley in 1954-1955.  "Elvis Presley was friendly with everyone", Van Story remembered.


The Club Handy was an favourite hangout in Beale Street for musicians, inclusive Elvis Presley frequented. The club was a gathering place for rhythm and blues performers, and the manager, Andrew "Sunbeam" Mitchell, brought in young and untried acts. He made a nice profit by allowing exceptionally-talented musicians to perform at the Club Handy. They played for so little that a fraternal atmosphere was necessary to survive the lack to pay. The musicians slept in small rooms adjacent to the club, so it was tantamount to a boarding school. He watched intently as vocalists and musicians interwove the blues with oungent vocal styling.



The recordings are included because of interview with Andrew Mitchell.

Composer: - Kokomo Arnold
Publisher: - Leeds Music Incorporated Limited
Recorded: - Probably

02* - "THAT'S ALL RIGHT" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Crudup Music
Recorded: - Probably

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar (Martin Dreadnought 18)
Unknown musicians


Elvis Presley circa 1952/1953. >


Elvis Presley performed Club Handy an historical interlude. This is what happened on Beale  Street one winter evening on January 1954. The weather was cold, a wet, icy cold that  seeped right through the heaviest of coats and cut straight to the bone. The young man  loitering on 195 Hernando Street wasn't wearing a coat, and was obviously freezing. He  paced back and forth in front of a small doorway, swinging his gangly arms back and forth,  trying to ward off the cold.

He was wearing a bright pink suit that clashed terribly with his  pale blue complexion. The pink suit seemed two sizes too big, giving him the look of a  scarecrow. His belt and shows were white patent leather, and the shoes showed all the signs  of having spent many an evening walking the hard, unforgiving pavement of Beale Street.

The few other people on the street that particular evening stared openly at the pink suit,  even more intently when they realized that the young man in it was white, some kind of  jive asshole standing near the corner of Beale and Hernando, freezing his tail off, not even  wearing an overcoat.

His pacing was obsessive, faster and faster, in time with the wad of gum he was chewing. His  hair was slicked back, and a lock of the greased pompadour kept falling across his eyes. He  pushed it back in place without seeming to notice.

Finally, the small door opened and a caramel-coloured face peered out into the cold.  "Elvis", the black man said into the gathering dark. "Elvis, goddammit boy! Are you ready  or not? C'mon, boy". Elvis Presley quickly spat the gum into the gutter of Hernando Street  and hurried over to the black man at the door. He pushed the slicked hair back into place  for the umpteenth time, and his angular face broke into a wide grin.

"I'm sorry", said Elvis Presley. "I guess you caught me just dreamin' some, trying to keep  warm". He was earnest, apologetic. "You don't watch out, boy, you get both our butts in  the Memphis City Jail", the proprietor said. It was against the law for a white man to enter  a black entertainment establishment (and even more against the law for a black man to  enter a white entertainment establishment). Separate but equal was the byword, the way  go keep the black men away from the white women, god forbid, and vice versa. The  proprietor looked up and down the street, which was practically deserted in the evening
chill. "C'mon", he said, pushing Elvis Presley ahead of him up the narrow back staircase,  "C'mon in".

The two went up the back stairs, into the Club Handy through the emergency exit.  Although the night was still relatively young, the joint was already cooking, the steamy  heat of moving bodies absorbing the winter cold. The feature attraction that night was just  the house band, a group that usually fronted for local rhythm and blues singer Bill Harvey,  and they'd worked the crowd into a white heat.

Elvis Presley entered the club, and a ripple of indignation moved through the crowd.  There were special expressions, special masks, reserved for white people, and the  majority of the faces slipped automatically into those expressions - smooth brown masks,  neither frowning nor smiling, eyes that soon turned away. A few of the faces registered  resentment, disgust. Another white boy, the faces said, come here to our ground to look  and steal what he can, maybe leave tonight with a sleek brown woman on his elbow; ought  to keep his white ass off Beale Street. The other faces showed amusement; eyes met and  exchanged secret signals, totally lost on the young man in the pink suit. Look at him, the  eyes winked back and forth, poor little white boy who wants to be a nigger.

Elvis Presley blinked in the smokey room, licked his lips and cleared his throat. His body,  betraying his uneasiness, began moving to the music. The proprietor left his side and walked  over to the bandstand, where he corralled the bandleader between numbers. There was  much whispering between the two, with a few gestures and strange glances back at Elvis  Presley, who waited quietly by the rear door. Finally the bandleader laughed and motioned  for Elvis Presley to come over to the bandstand.

"Folks", the bandleader said to the attentive audience, "we got us a special treat tonight.  Mr. Elvis Presley here, who go to works for Mr. Sam Phillips over at Sun Records, is gonna  sing us a couple of songs. C'mon up here, boy!". Elvis Presley smiled and waved, and the  crowd responded with thunderous applause and laughter. "Thank you very much", Elvis  Presley said, turning to the band. "Let's sing some blues here. You boys know Sleepy John  Estes' "Milkcow Blues Boogie".

The bandleader snorted, and before Elvis Presley turned around, the band dug into a  hopped-up version of the blues standard. The band was puzzled. Elvis Presley wasn't  singing what they were playing, at least not the right way. The beat was not the same - he  was singing ahead of the jazzed-up blues beat, moving his body to punctuate the rhythm  in his head. The band shifted tempo a bit, but something was still wrong, strangely,  undefinable wrong.

The crowd sensed that the band and the singer were not together, but they were already  moving to the white boy's new rhythm. It was somehow more fierce and less worldly than  the dance music they were used to, more akin to the frantic honky-tonk blues than the  classy Club Handy. Elvis Presley finished up to a scattering of applause. He was flushed,  cocky, looking down from the stage into a sea of eyes and teeth. He pushed his hair back  from his sweating face and sneered at the audience.

"Thank you thank you", he said. "Let's do some Big Boy Crudup now. Boys", he said to the  band, "follow me now". The band fumbled around, blind men looking for the new beat. It  was almost as if he couldn't sing rhythm and blues. His body jerked as the song poured  out, leaner and meaner than anything Big Boy Crudup ever imagined. The crowd moved  with the new beat, hypnotized by the swaying figure in the pink suit, looking deep into a  pink crystal ball showing a pink vision of the future, a pink and white vision of the future.

The band stumbled again, reaching for the beat. The band members were consummate  professionals, veterans of a million hours in a million smokey clubs, but this music was  something different, so close to what they were used to playing that it made playing if  difficult. The fingers want the old familiar patterns.

The applause after the sone was uneasy, but Elvis Presley couldn't feel it. The music in his  head went round and round, and he knew in his heart and in his soul and in his guts that it  was the music of the future, if anybody would just listen to it. He would find a way to  make Mr. Sam Phillips understand if it took the rest of his life, because he knew he had the  power. He knew that he, a white nigger from Tupelo, Mississippi, had the beat. Just like  the crowd at Club Handy knew, down in their guts, that they'd just seen someone step on  their graves.

While frequenting Beale Street, Elvis Presley began listening late at night to Gene Nobles  and John "John R' Richbourg, who broadcast out of Nashville and played rhythm and blues  tunes.

B.B. King with Andrew ''Sunbeam Mitchell'', who owned many of the clubs on Beale Street in Memphis. >

ANDREW ''SUNBEAM'' MITCHELL - In 1985 photograph around the time he retired and sold  the Club Paradise. Mitchell, owner of the old Club Paradise (which opened in 1965) and  several nightclubs and businesses on Beale Street died in August 1989 at the age of 83.  For  four decades, Mitchell's clubs featured some of the biggest names in rhythm and blues. His  Club Paradise at 645 East Georgia was Memphis' biggest night spot, with room for 2,500. In  1946, he purchased a club he eventually renamed Club Handy.

It was originally named  Mitchell's Domino Lounge and was upstairs at Beale and Hernando over the old Pantaze Drug  Store.  Among performers who sat in on jam sessions was Elvis Presley. On any given night,  patrons at his clubs might see performers such as Ike and Tina Turner, Muddy Waters, Howlin'  Wolf, Fred Ford, Stan Kenton, Lou Rawls, Little Richard, Denise LaSalle, Joe Simon, Count  Basie, Albert King and Tyrone Davis. Several artists got their starts at his clubs, including  Bobby 'Blue' Bland, B.B. King, Little Junior Parker, Johnny Ace and others.

The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee

CLUB HANDY / PANTAZE DRUG STORE NO. 2 (JOYCE COBB'S CLUB) - ca. 1884. 209-211 Beale  Street. With its windows recessed slightly from the facade to simulate the appearance of  columns, this building used to have a cornice at the tops. Ita window heads are cast-iron.  From 1896 through the 1960s, it was a drug store, first of George H. Battier, then beginning  in 1929, the Pantaze Drug Store No. 2.  Abe Plough, who founded Plough Pharmaceuticals in 1908, became the proprietor of  Battier's Pharmacy around 1914. In 1920 he marketed the popular brand name St.  Joseph's Aspirin.

Battier's and the Pantaze remained open 24 hours to accommodate the  community. They also acted as an emergency room for victims of Beale Street's violence.

Around the corner at 195 Hernando Street was the entrance to the second and third  floors. For years it had been used as a rooming house until the late 1930s, when it became  the Coloured Citizens Association. In the mid-1940s, Andrew "Sunbeam" Mitchell opened a  hotel on the third floor and used the second floor as a lounge.

Mitchell helped entertainers, like Little Richard and Roy Brown, who were stranded in  Memphis from lack of work. Musicians stayed in the hotel and were charged a nominal fee  for a bowl of chili, a feast fondly remembered by Beale Street regulars. The second floor  lounge began as a place for jam sessions where local and out-of-town musicians played.

At one time it was called the Domino Lounge and after W.C. Handy died, renamed the Club  Handy. Jazz and blues performers, such as Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Boy  Williamson, and Little Walter, among many others, performed there. Bill Harvey, the guru  of Memphis musicians, led the house band in the late 1940s. B.B. King eventually took  over the band. B.B. had played in Mitchell's Lounge beginning in the early 1950s.


On Monday, January 4, 1954, Elvis Presley walked into Taylor's Cafe for a coke. Marcus Van  Story was sitting at the counter and they talked. Elvis Presley was going into Sam Phillips'  Memphis Recording Service to cut a vanity record. Van Story agreed to go with him. "I told  Elvis it would be fun to do a couple of songs", Van Story recalled. "To loosen Elvis up, I  remember him it was four dollars he was wasting to cut the song". Elvis Presley laughed at  Van Story's good-natured remark. As they entered the Sun Records building, Elvis Presley  remarked that there was an interesting sign on the studio wall. "I guess I'm in the right  place, Marcus", Elvis commented.

''I'll Never Stand In Your Way'' b/w "It Wouldn't Be The Same (Without You)",  January 1954 acetate. >

Elvis Presley visited the Memphis Recording Service again. This time, Sam Phillips had a change to meet and talk to him. Elvis recorded "It Wouldn't Be The Same Without You" and "I'll Never Stand In Your Way" on a ten-inch acetate disc for his own enjoyment, of possibly for a girlfriend. He paid his $3.98 (plus tax) and left.  Phillips made a note to contact Elvis if the need arose for a singer.

As Marcus Van Story hung around the recording studio, Elvis Presley, who was a little nervous, talked with Marion Keisker, Sam Phillips' secretary, which helped relieve his tension. Marcus Van Story also chatted with Keisker until Elvis Presley invited him into the recording booth, where Van Story added some gentle guitar licks to the tunes.




Composer: - Jimmy Wakely-Fred Rose
Publisher: - Acuff Rose Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - CPA5-5102   -  Not Originally Issued
10-inch acetate courtesy of Sean O'Neal
Recorded: - January 4, 1954 
Acetate recording mastered from acetate at BMG Recording Studios, 
1133 Avenue Of The Americas, New York, NY., 1994
Released: - February 5, 1999
First appearance: - RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 07863 67675 2-2-4 mono
Reissued:- October 19, 2010 RCA Sony Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 11826 2-13-4 mono

02 - "I'LL NEVER STAND IN YOUR WAY" - A.S.C.A.P. - 2:01
Composer: - Fred Rose-Walter Henry Heath - Written in 1953
Publisher: - Clint Horner Copyright 1941
Matrix number: - CPA5-5101  -  Not Originally Issued
10-inch acetate courtesy of Sean O'Neal
Recorded: - January 4, 1954 
Acetate recording mastered from acetate at BMG Recording Studios,
1133 Avenue Of The Americas, New York, NY., 1994.
Released: - June 17, 1997
First appearance: - July 14, 1997 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 07863 67469 2-1 mono
Reissued:  - February 5, 1999  RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 07863 67675 2-2-4 mono

It was January 4, 1954 when Elvis Presley went back to Sun Records. He'd cut his first demo record there the previous summer, and his return was almost certainly part of a strategy to remind Sun owner Sam Phillips of his existence. Rumour had it that he'd already been showed away from the other record company in town, Meteor Records, so if he was to get on record it would have to be at Sun. We can hear Elvis Presley apprehension but we can also hear hints of the bravura and confidence that would soon be his. Its almost impossible to reposition ourselves in time to listen to this recording through Sam Phillips' ears in 1954, but even then we'd be missing something. We'd need to see Elvis. There must have been something strangely compelling about him, and Phillips saw through the insecurity and hesitation to the promise.

"I'll Never Stand In Your Way" was Fred Rose's last hit. He wrote it with Hy Heath (his co-writer on "Take These Chains From My Heart"). Rose was a Nashville music publisher, and his close ties with MGM ensured that this song went simultaneously to country singer Ernie Lee and pop singer Joni James. Joni's version was a fleeting hit in the latter months of 1953, prompting Elvis Presley to record it.

(Name Or. Or. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar (Martin Dreadnought 18)
Marcus Van Story - Probably Some Guitar Licks

Van Story, who liked the recording, urged Elvis Presley to use some local musicians to strengthen his music. After the session, Elvis Presley hoped to meet Sam Phillips, but the Sun Records owner was too busy to talk. Unfortunately, Phillips was selling his records and searching for new talent, and had little time to talk with Elvis Presley. Listening quickly to Elvis Presley's vanity record, Sam Phillips wasn't convinced that Presley's music would fit into either the country-rockabilly market or the pop field. His talent was much different than the singers that Sun released. Despite these thoughts, Sam Phillips wrote a brief note to bring Presley back into the studio for an audition. Elvis immediately took home and play the record on the family's Sears-Roebuck record player.


Acetate receipt 0812A-0812B >

SEAN O'NEAL - Elvis collector. Sean O'Neal's wife, Tracy, was on vacation and looking through  an classified advertisement in an out-of-town newspaper that spotted: Elvis Presley  Collection, unreleased photos, records. She quickly telephoned long distance. The person on  the other end of the line said the collection included some 200 photos, the latest being  about 1961. The oldest photo in the collection had a pencilled notation on the back cover,  "Elvis at 7".

The collection also included the script for "G.I. Blues", complete with notes;  Elvis signed musicians union card, signed in 1956; 40 to 50 LPs, and some acetates. One of  the acetates reads on the label, Memphis Recording Service.

Amazed at contents of the collection, Sean O'Neal quickly called his wife in that town and  told her, "Whatever you do, buy it!". "I flew down and brought that acetate home with me  in my lap on the plane", he said. "I made an tape recording of this acetate with a handheld  recorder. It was obvious to me it was Elvis Presley. I knew RCA would be interested in  it".

He telephoned a media contact, within 20 minutes, Roger Semon of England, one of  RCA/BMB expert was on the line to Sean O'Neal. "I played him about 15 seconds of the  tape", O'Neal said. "He said, 'That's Elvis. Ernest Jorgensen and I are coming listen to it".  They flew in to listen to the second acetate Elvis Presley ever cut.

On October 1993, lots of negotiations have taken place between Sean O'Neal and RCA/BMG  since, but, he says, "at this point it looks out the window with RCA". However, its still  possible RCA will buy the acetate. The second acetate - at the moment the most desirable  record in the world! - will be among thousands of rock and roll, blues and rhythm and blues  items to be offered at Guernsey's remarkable four-day rock and roll action set on January  19-22, 1994 in new York City.

For years, all the Elvis experts have listen "It Wouldn't Be The Same Without You" on the Aside;  "Casual Love Affair" on the B-side. Not So! "I'll Never Stand In Your Way" is the flip  side of the acetate, which has typed-on the labels. "Most think with this acetate, all they  would have to do is walk into RCA and get a check for a million dollars", said O'Neal.  "That's not going to happen". O'Neal has offered, via the upcoming Guernsay's auction, the  union card, and an acetate of "Crawfish". He's saving the photos for himself with plans to  develop a photo book. In addition to O'Neal's acetates, Guernsey's will be offering nearly  400 other acetates used in the recording of Elvis' records.

Elvis' second acetate, Elvis paid 4 dollars to record at Memphis Recording Service, failed to  even draw an opening bid at Guernsey's rock and roll auction in New York. In the case of  the second acetate, opening bid was $10,000. Auctioneers had predicted it would sell for  $200,000 or more. Sean O'Neal, the acetate's owner, withdrew the collectible. "I'm  probably going to wait and try again with a more major auction, like Sotheby's or  Butterfield & Butterfield", said O'Neal. Later, RCA/BMG buy the acetate for worldwide  release.

Dixie Locke and Elvis Presley spring 1954 >


That night at Leonard's Drive-In, Elvis Presley presented his second acetate to a petite  blonde, sitting in a corner booth with three of her girlfriends. The girl blushed under Elvis'  steady gaze but didn't avert her eyes when the agreed to a date the following Saturday.  "Maybe I ought to have you autograph this now for when you get famous", the girl said. "You  don' need my name on a piece of paper - you got me", he said.


Fourteen-year-old Dixie Locke, a sophomore at South Side High School, notices Elvis Presley  at a church function and, making sure that he overhears, makes plans with a girlfriend to go  roller-skating Saturday night.


Elvis Presley, dressed in a black outfit with a bolero jacket, met Dixie Locke, at the Rainbow  Rollerdrome, Memphis roller-skating rink, located at 2879-81 Lamar Avenue in Memphis.  During the next few years, she would be one of Elvis' steadiest dates. They both attended  the First Assembly of God Church at 1085 McLemore Avenue. At South Side High School,  Dixie Locke was one of the most sought after girls and Elvis Presley, never confident with  women or relationships, felt reassured with her on his arm.

In February 1954, she agreed to  a "trial engagement". The Lockes, on the other hand, were one step up the social ladder  from the Presley's, and Dixie's parents warned their daughter that her two goals - love and  marriage - were not possible with Elvis Presley.

"I think Dixie was the one girl Elvis loved  most in his life", Aunt Lillian remarked. Elvis Presley ones commented: "She was kind of  small with long, dark hair that came down to her shoulders and the biggest smile that I've  ever seen anywhere". Problems between them developed when Dixie eventually complained  about spending too many nights at Sun Records after Elvis Presley made his second vanity  record for Sam Phillips in 1954. "There were so many nights we'd go over to the recording  studio", Dixie later recalled. Her recollections are notable because they challenge the notion  that Sam Phillips recorded Elvis Presley with little preparations. Like many Memphis singers,  Presley had caught Phillips' attention long before his first recording session. Locke married,  becoming Mrs. Dixie Semmons. Locke was loosely portrayed by Melody Anderson as a girl  named Bonnie in the 1979 TV movie "Elvis".

RAINBOW "ROLLERDROME" ROLLER SKATING RINK - Memphis roller-skating rink, located at  2879-81 Lamar Avenue in Memphis, which Elvis Presley enjoyed frequenting in the 1950s. The  managers was Joe and Doris Pieraccini, the family had two entertainment business on Lamar  Avenue:

Clearpool, which contained the Eagle's Nest, and Rainbow Lake, an amusement  complex that included the Rainbow Roller Skating Rink.

Before stardom, Elvis Presley  sometimes took Dixie Locke there on Friday nights in 1953 and 1954. At that time, although  the late Joe Pieraccini remembered Elvis Presley asking to play his acetate (the song is  unknown) in the skating rink jukebox.

It was there in 1958 that Red West first introduced Elvis Presley to his cousin Sonny West.  The Rainbow Rollerdrome was situated next to the Rainbow Lake swimming pool. In the  1950s it cost fifty cents to get in and twenty-five cents to rent skates. As a celebrity, Elvis  Presley rented the rink for the entertainment of him and his friends at about $70 a night.  Some of the games they played were "War" and "Crack The Whip", which at times got  pretty physical. After a while they, began to wear knee and elbow pads. Elvis Presley  rented the Rainbow Rollerdrome the night before he was inducted into the Army on March  23, 1958.

The Rainbow Rollerdrome (Roller-skating rink) .

Mrs. Doris Pieraccini, wife of Joe, remembers charging Elvis Presley just thirty-five dollars. She provided  rollerskates, food, and drink for everyone in his party and helped keep out those not invited. Sometimes a  crowd would bang on the windows and doors when it was known that Elvis Presley was skating.  Often, Elvis  arrived at the rink in a nondescript truck instead of one of his famous cars in order to keep his party a secret.

In  spite of all the chaos, Elvis remained a cheerful, pleasant guest. When a friend of Doris brought her daughter to  the rink, Elvis spent time skating with the child.

One employee of the rink, Will McDaniel, earned a name for himself by knocking Elvis Presley down. Because  McDaniel was wearing a shirt with the moniker "Bardahl" on the label, he has been known by that name ever  since. Occasionally, Elvis would tear his shirt or pants, and one of the entourage was sent to find a replacement.  After Elvis threw away the torn clothing, Doris would retrieve it from the trash. To this day, she has remnants  of two pairs of pant, as well as a shirt worn in Love Me Tender.

It was here that Elvis Presley first met T.G. Sheppard while rollerskating. Around 1995-98, the Rainbow Rollerdrome is part  of Pancho's Restaurant Corporation facility. The original colour-patterned concrete floor of the skating rink is  still intact. The building that housed the restaurant, which was once adjacent to the rink, is also still there,  though now is used as a storage room.

The night before Elvis Presley was inducted into the Army, Elvis rented out the Rainbow Rollerdrome. Elvis  Presley was drafted on December 19, 1957, but he requested a sixty day deferment. The night after his  mother's death in August 1958, Elvis Presley skated again, and marked the end of the skating parties. Doris  never saw him again after 1958.

Rainbow Rollerdrome, maybe that was the actual name of the roller-skating rink, but the entire complex on  Lamar Avenue  will forever be known as Rainbow Lake, which also included a huge outdoor swimming pool, fancy restaurant,  picnic grounds, and more.

Rainbow Lake was opened way back in 1936 by Joe Pieraccini, when that stretch of Lamar Avenue (at Dunn) was  on the outskirts of town. In the early years, it was mainly a place to swim; the skating rink wasn’t added until  1942. Memphis kids had a great time at Rainbow Lake over the years, but brother, the place was plagued by  trouble. In 1947, it made all the newspapers when more than two dozen sailors from the Naval Air Station at  Millington staged a bottle-throwing, drunk-punching, free-for-all with a group of civilians. It finally took a Naval  Court of Inquiry to sort out all the mess and clear most of the charges.

In 1957, a rock-and-roll dance party held in Rainbow’s famous Terrace Room, and hosted by two of the most  famous disk jockeys in Memphis history, Wink Martindale and Dewey Phillips, got out of hand when many of the  kids (some of them just 15 years old), got rip-roaring drunk. Rainbow lost its beer license after that.

Then there were fires, robberies, and even an accidental drowning in the big pool. Rainbow Lake could never  seem to get good press. In 1958, the owners announced they were turning the 14-acre complex into a private  resort, to be called Rainbow Lake Country Club. They planned to build a 40-unit luxury motel, and even add a  500,000-gallon indoor swimming pool. None of that ever happened.

In 1963, a department store called Big M announced it had leased the site and would tear down all the buildings  and fill in the swimming pool. For some reason, none of that ever happened either, and newspaper headlines  announced, ''Rainbow Lake To Stay Put''. Well, it did for six more years, anyway. Then the Memphis AFL-CIO  Building Association purchased the property for $700,000. They turned the Terrace Room, once billed as ''The  South's Finest'', into meeting space, and converted the old skating rink into offices. The swimming pool filled up  with trash and rainwater.

Then came more bad press. A fire in 1975 did $300,000 damage, and in 1979 the building association went  bankrupt. Finally, in December 1981, the Mexican food and restaurant chain Pancho's bought the site for its  headquarters and food-processing plant. But they moved out some years ago, and the site was a scruffy vacant  lot.  It was the end of the Rainbow.


Elvis calls up Dixie Locke, and they go to the movies.


Jud Phillips purchases Jim Bulleit's interest in Sun Records and sets up a new distribution  system unrelated to Bulleit's Delta and J-B labels. Sun registers the Hi-Lo Publishing  Company with B.M.I., to publish Sun copyrights.

Country recording artist Hardrock Gunter is put in touch with Sam Phillips when working  with Phillips' brother-in-law, Jim Connally, at radio WJLD in Birmingham, Alabama. Unable  to spare the time to get to Memphis, Gunter record two songs locally and ships them to  Phillips for release on Sun. The titles are "Gonna Dance All Night" and "Fallen Angel",  performed in a western-swing style. The A side has rock and roll overtones in the Bill Haley  mould.

Jud Phillips borrowed $1200 and bought Jim Bulleit out. Sun was now free from outside  interference, and Sam Phillips could negotiate his own business deals. This was an  important turning point for Phillips. During the year, Sam frantically recorded numerous  black acts. Jud Phillips helped sell the product by making a deal with a Shreveport,  Louisiana, distributor, Stan Lewis, who agreed to get Sun Records played on local radio.


Elvis Presley, Gene Smith, and Dixie Locke at the K's Drive-In, located at 166 Crump  Boulevard, Memphis. The couples would pile into Elvis' old Lincoln and head to K's for  cheeseburgers and milk shakes. Sometimes Elvis Presley would bring along his guitar and  entertain the group.

On Sundays Elvis and other mempbers of their Sunday school class sneak off from the  Assembly of God Church service to hear the preaching and singing at Reverent W. Herbert  Brewster's colored church on East Trigg, just a few blocks away. Brewster, a noted gospel  songwriter and civil rights activist, is a stirring orator, perhaps best known today for Mahalia  Jackson's version of his ''Move On Up A Little Higher'' and Clara Ward's ''How I Got Over''.

Krystal Restaurant, Summer Avenue, Memphis. >

K'S DRIVE-IN (KRYSTAL) (NOW K'S RESTAURANT) - K's Drive-In was a favorite hangout on  Summer Avenue in Memphis. It was the short of place where you could ease your care into  the parking slot with your date beside you and call your order into the intercom  conveniently located at window level. In a few minutes, a carhop would deliver your food,  securing the tray to your window. When Elvis Presley was a teenager, the restaurant did a  big business, employing twenty-one carhops at one time.

Its been years since K's stopped their drive-in business and renamed themselves K's  Restaurant. When the neighborhood began to decline, they shortened their hours, closing  at 2:00 each afternoon.  Still, the restaurant is operated by the same family and has kept  the menu the same, and it still serves some of the best home cooking in the city.

Elvis' first income tax return. >


Barely two weeks after their first meeting, Elvis brings Dixie Locke home to meet his  parents.


Elvis Presley and Dixie Locke attend the All-Night Gospel Singing at Ellis Auditorium together  for the first time. Elvis, Vernon, and Gladys are regulars at this monthly event, an all-star  gospel show put on by the Blackwood Brothers. 

The Blackwoods are Gladys' favorite group,  but Elvis prefers the more charismatic Stateman Brothers, whose flamboyant bass singer,  Jim Wetherington ("Big Chief"), and virtuosic lead singer, Jake Hess, he particularly admires.

MARCH 1954

Earl Peterson's "Boogie Blues" (SUN 197) is released at about this time, as is SUN 198  "Troublesome Waters" by Howard Seratt. Neither disc is successful commercially but they  represent an increasing commitment to country music on the part of Sun Records.

MAY 1954

Hardrock Gunter's "Gonna Dance All Night" (SUN 201) is released at about this time. Ernie  Chaffin, later to record for Sun Records, makes his first recordings this month in Nashville.


Elvis Presley and Dixie Locke attend the annual Minstrel Show at Humes High School.


Elvis Presley files his first federal income tax return. His job classification is checked off as  "semi-skilled", and his return shows income of $129.74 from M.B. Parker and $786.59 from  Precision Tool, with no deductions or exemptions.


Elvis Presley leaves Precision Tool, where he is not particularly happy with either the work  or the razzing he is forced to put up with because of the length of his hair.


With Dixie Locke, Elvis Presley returns to Humes High School for another talent show.


A Billboard article headlined "Teenagers Going for Music With a Beat" explores the increasing  fascination with rhythm and blues among white teenagers, as well as the inviting commercial  possibilities for record companies and record retailers. "The teen-age tide has swept down  the old barriers which kept this music restricted at a segment of the population", the New  York-based trade weekly declares, merely hinting at the social implications .


Dixie Locke has Easter dinner with Elvis Presley's family.

The Songfellows, Cecil Blackwood (center), Jimmy Hamil (to his left), ready for radio broadcast via KWEM, 1954. >


Elvis Presley begins work at Crown Electric Company located at  475 North Dunlap,  where he starts out driving a truck at  $1 an hour, delivering supplies to building sites. He is hoping for the chance to train to be an  electrician. The warmer weather, Elvis Presley and Dixie Locke often go to Riverside Park,  where Elvis plays his guitar and sings for Dixie and other friends.

Sometime during the spring  Elvis tries out for the Songfellows, the junior Blackwood group, and is crushed when  according to his recollection, he is told that he "can't sing" - though other members of the  group later insist that they meant he couldn't sing harmony.

(1) Mrs. Gladys Tipler points to place Elvis carved name while working for her husband. (2) The truck on 353 Poplar Avenue Elvis drove at the time ''That's All Right'' turned into a hit. (3) Mrs. Gladys Tipler of Crown Electric, Memphis,circa 1956. (4) After recording ''That's All Right'' Elvis earned a weekley paycheck, totalling $43,68, from Crown Electric until October of 1954. >

CROWN ELECTRIC COMPANY - Memphis electric contracting firm, located at 475 North Dunlap,  Memphis, Tennessee, for which Elvis Presley worked beginning November 1953. Crown Electric was owned  by Jim and Gladys Tipler. 

In early 1956 the firm moved from 475 North Dunlap to its 353 Poplar Avenue  location. Elvis Presley made a little over $1.25 an hour, which he gave to his mother. His job consisted of  driving either the company's Ford F-100 pickup truck or the blue Dodge panel truck and delivering supplies  to the men on job.

In addition, Elvis Presley worked in the warehouse. Elvis Presley claimed to have studied electricity in the  evening to learn more about the job, but where he attended classes has not yet been determined.

Elvis Presley still worked here when his rise to fame began a year later with the SUN 209 release "That's All  Right"/"Blue Moon Of Kentucky". Ironically, a few years before, singer Dorsey Burnette had driven a truck  for Crown Electric, with brother Johnny Burnette. Paul Burlison, an electrician with Crown and already a  member of Johnny Burnettes' Rock And Roll Trio, remembers that Elvis Presley returned for a visit not long  after he left Crown "He pulled up to the front door in that pink Cadillac and blowed his horn. 'Come out here  Gladys, I got something I want to show you. Look what that little ole guitar bought me", Burlison recalled.

Elvis Presley stopped by to visit the Tiplers on several other occasions, once bringing along  with actor Nick Adams, who was staying with him at Graceland. As for the truck that he  drove at Crown, the Tiplers sold it. Several years later, a man asked them if they'd be  interested in buying an old truck with a bad motor. Mr. Tipler recognized it immediately -  it was Elvis' old truck. The same dealer who bought it from Mr. Tipler had sold it to this  man. Mrs. Tipler always wished her husband had bought it back, though they knew by then  that Elvis Presley would never have occasion to drive it again.

After Elvis' employment, in 1956, Crown Electric Company was located near the intersection of  Poplar Avenue and Lauderdale Street, which is now Danny Thomas Boulevard.

It was a  short walk south of 462 Alabama Avenue and Lauderdale Courts. The Crown Electric  Company is no longer in business, B&H Hardware stands later at 353 Poplar Avenue, where  Crown Electric once stood. Today the building which housed the company has been  replaced in 1983 by the Exxon gasoline station. Two important locations are within  eyeshot of the Crown Electric site. Poplar Tunes is catty-corner to the site, and the  Presley's first Memphis apartment at 572 Poplar Avenue is also visible.

Elvis Presley was working for Jim and Gladys Tipler at Crown Electric Company. Here is the way Jim Tipler  told the story on tape before he passed away: "We had put in a call to Tennessee Employment for a truck  driver. We knew this lady up there and she began looking out for us. She called us one day and said she had a  real nice young boy who wanted a job; needed a job badly.  We told her to send him down to 474 North  Dunlap, where Crown was located at the time.

We interviewed and hired him. He started by driving a truck for us, taking electrical materials out on the jobs  for the electricians.  After a while, he started helping the electricians on the job, pulling wire, doing a bunch of odds and ends  things. That's where I think this story got started about him studying to become an electrician. Really, he was  never an electrician; he just helped the electricians every so often.

Other than his long hair, which we weren't used to, he looked like a typical young teenager. That made him a  little suspicious to us because at that time you weren't seeing many people with long hair. He'd go out on the  job and he'd really take care of that hair. Then he'd come back in and run to the mirror and start combing his  hair. He kept that hair real nice. After he had been working for us a while, and started getting to play in some  of the clubs around town, he would get my wife, Gladys, to make appointments for him and he started going  to the beauty shop, getting his hair fixed.

When he first started working for us, he didn't tell us of his interest in music, but after he had been with us  about a month, he commenced telling us all about it, about what he was doing. Also, he told us what he  would like to do if ever he made a hit or something. He told us he would like to buy his mother a home and  that made a big hit with us. Here was a young man making a statement that the first thing he wanted to do  was buy his mother a home. Of course, that's the first thing he did, on out Aubudon Drive, when he started  making some money.

Now and then he would bring his guitar to work and show us how to play it. Mostly, when he'd play some  place like the Bon Air, he'd tell us and we would gather up a crowd and go out there and hear him. We  thought that went over real good. Everybody would just get up from their tables, crowd the dance floor in  front of the band, and watch him sing and shake that leg.

Every once in a while, when he would come in, to work, and be messing around, combing that hair, Gladys  would tell him, 'You'd better put that guitar down. It'll be the ruination of you if you don't put that guitar  down'. Things turned out just the opposite. It's a good thing he didn't follow her advice. He was with us a  good seven or eights months before his records came out.

One day, after that first record, he said he needed some time off to go down and do a radio interview. He told  us he would put in a plug for Crown Electric on the air - that he worked there. And after that interview, the  phones started ringing. They were really ringing. I'm not sure it was because of the plug he gave us on the  air, but he thought it did''.

Delivery truck at Cown Electric's new location on 353 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, 1956. >

''Listening to him sing around work, at Clearpool, the Silver Slipper and Bon Air, places like that, I really   thought he was going to make it big. The way people at those clubs left their seats and gathered around him,   on stage, that was a good sign to me that everybody liked him and he would really make it. After Dewey   Phillips introduced that song on his show, we all got enthused, but we had no idea it was going to become the   hit it did''.

''I think he really began his gyrations at Clearpool. When he was there, he would really beat that guitar and   really shake that leg. Everybody would just get up and holler.

I think that's the kind of thing that really   kicked him off - shaking that leg. Of course, his singing was good, too. I had never before seen anyone   where people would get up from their seats and gather around the stage and just clap and holler for him like   that.

Years later, it was my wife's birthday and Elvis was getting ready to play Las Vegas. We flew out. I didn't   want Elvis to know we were there. I went to the maitre d' and told him I wanted a seat where Elvis couldn't   miss us. The maitre d' got us a seat so close we could lay our arms on the stage.

When Elvis came out, he went to the right and talked to those people. Then he came back by our table. We he   got near us and saw Gladys and me sitting there at the front table, he got down on his knees and started   shaking my hand, and he put his arm around Gladys and was hugging and kissing her. Then he asked what   we were doing there, and we told him it was Gladys' birthday and we had come out to celebrate it with him.   He thought that was real nice of us to come out there. He got up, from kneeling, and announced, 'These are  the people I used to drive a truck for Mr. and Mrs. Tipler'.

I asked him if we could visit backstage after the show and he told us to come on. There, we talked to him and   Mr. Vernon Presley about fifteen or twenty minutes. He never forgot old friends. I went down to his place   (Graceland) two or three times when he had those little movie stars there visiting. Different girls would be   sent there for two weeks to built up their publicity. Once, when I was head of the Electrical Contractors   Association, the group came to Memphis for its convention. They asked if I could arrange a group visit to  Graceland. I arranged it with Elvis. We took three buses down there. One of the bus drivers (seeing dollars   dance in his head) asked Elvis if he could begin bringing tours down there on the ground, and Elvis told him,   'No, sir. If it wasn't for Mr. Tipler, you wouldn't be in this yard now'.

He'd always do things like that for me if I asked. We thought as much of him as if he were our own son. I   don't think anyone else could have thought more of their own son than we thought of Elvis Presley", recalled Tipler.

Elvis Presley trimmed his hair at Blake's Coiffure, owned by Blake Johnson, at the suggestion of Gladys   Tipler, the wife of James Tipler, who owned Crown Electric, where Elvis Presley was working at the time.

Cotton Carnival king, queen greet crowd: Cotton Carnival royalty, King Howard Willey Jr. and Queen Julia Donelson, wave to the crowd on May 21, 1954. >


Elvis and Dixie Locke attend this day the annual Memphis Cotton Carnival where Elvis  Presley runs into Ronald Smith in a performance at the Hi-Hat Supper Club on Third Street in  Memphis. According to Smith, he introduced himself as an entrepreneur and arranged for  the gig before he had a band.

He "borrowed" Eddie Bond's Stompers, a local country outfit in  which Smith played guitar. After adding Ace Cannon on saxophone to give the combo a "pop"  sound, he brought in Elvis as the vocalist. Bond said that one of the songs they performed  was "Tryin' To Get To You", which Elvis Presley would later recorded.

Oral Roberts preaching at tent crusade, circa 1950s. >

MAY 9, 1954 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley and Dixie Locke attend the Oral Roberts Crusade in Memphis.  As one of the most well-known and controversial American religious leaders of the 20th century, Roberts's preaching emphasized seed-faith. His ministries reached millions of followers worldwide spanning a period of over six decades.

His healing ministry and bringing American Pentecostalism into the mainstream had the most impact, but he also pioneered TV evangelism and laid the foundations of the prosperity gospel and abundant life teachings. The breadth and style of his ministry, including his widely publicized funding appeals, made him a consistent subject of contention among critics and supporters.


Elvis Presley and Dixie Locke go to the Hi-Hat Club on South Third. Elvis is wearing his bolero  jacket with a pink shirt and accompanies himself on the guitar, singing two songs. The tryout  does not get him a job, and in later years Elvis will dramatize the rejection by saying that  Eddie Bond told him to go back to driving a truck.

Eddie Bond, flanked by Ronald Smith (left) and Johnny Fine at the Rooftop, Peabody Hotel, Memphis, Spring 1954. >

The owners of the Hi-Hat Club, Tom and Mary, were former Arthur dance instructors who  had invested their profits in the creation of a beautiful music club. They wanted a pop  music band, but most of the Memphis groups performed country or hillbilly music. Eddie  Bond and his group, a country artist and band that were decidedly un-pop, were  reorganized by Ronald Smith, who also urged the hiring of Elvis Presley as a guest vocalist.

Ronald and Eddie Bond, who were also performers on KWEK in West Memphis, gave away  tickets to the Hi-Hat's Saturday Night Show. "I asked Elvis Presley to bring Dixie Locke out  to the Hi-Hat", Smith recalled. "Elvis was nervous but I told him the band could play  anything". 

It was at this May 1954, club engagement that Elvis Presley was first introduced  to Eddie Bond. "I was outside and talked in my car", Bond remarked. "I had known Elvis  before, when he sang over at the Home For Incurables", said Bond. "My father sold paint to  the Home. I had met Elvis over there and knew he could sing anything. So, I asked Elvis if  he wanted to sing pop with Eddie Bond and The Stompers down at the Hi-Hat, and he  jumped at the chance. He came down and began singing with us. He sang three or four  weeks with us". "I was amazed by Elvis' knowledge of pop music, he knew all the songs on  that day".

Hi-Hat Club, Memphis, Tennessee. The building with the Sisco TV sign was the site of nightclubs including one with the name Hi-Hat. The Hi-Hat was located at Third Street (Highway 61) on the edge of town and featured country and western music.

When Ronald Smith took over Bond's Stompers for nightclub dates, he often brought in Ace   Cannon, so it happened that when Elvis Presley performed with the band, he was backed   by some of Memphis' best musicians. "Elvis loved the Hi-Hat Club and couldn't stop talking   about singing there", Ronald Smith remembered.

The music was pop and there was no   brawling. At the Hi-Hat, Mark Waters played drums, Dino Dainesworth played saxophone   and clarinet, Elvis Presley vocal, Ronald Smith played guitar, and Aubrey Meadows played  piano.

"Sitting right in front of the bandstand were a man and two woman. We called them the   Board of Directors. One of them owned the club. After they heard Elvis and saw Elvis, they   came to me and said, 'If you don't get rid of that greasy-haired redneck, we will get rid of   you!", said Eddie Bond.

"I was making fifteen hundred dollars a week at the time. Not long out of high school. That   was big money in those days. I wasn't about to give that up. What else could I do? So I fired   Elvis!'.

"I'm probably the only person in the world who can legitimately lay claim to having fired   Elvis". "Not long after that, Elvis recorded "That's All Right" at Sun, Elvis took off, headed   toward becoming a legend. The owner came to me then and said, 'We might let him back if   he wants to come back'".

"I went to Elvis and gave him the offer. He kind of laughed. said, sure, he would come back   to the Hi-Hat, but it would cost them twenty-five hundreds dollars a week''!

MAY 17, 1954 MONDAY

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that separate educational  facilities for blacks and whites "are inherently unequal". With that decision the Court  overturned the precedent of "separate but equal" set by the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case  and set the stage for the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION - On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown  v. Board Education that separate educational facilities for blacks and whites "are inherently  unequal". With that decision the Court overturned the precedent of "separate but equal" set  by the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case and set the stage for the civil rights movement in the  1960s.  The National Assoc iation for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) played a major  role in the instigation of the case, which centered around Linda Brown, a black child  denied admission to a Topeka, Kan., elementary school because of her race.

Brown  brought together five related cases from South Carolina, Delaware, Virginia, Kansas, and  the District of Columbia.  All of which challenged racial segregation as a violation of the  equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The arguments heard by the Court  centered on the intentions of the framers and ratifiers of that amendment.

In the briefs, unanimous opinion delivered by Chief Justice Earl Warren, the Court ruled  that the separate-but-equal doctrine, which held that racial segregation was permissible as  long as equal facilities were provided for both races, was in violation of the equalprotection  clause. The justices wrote that the segregation of white and black children in  public education "generates a feeling of inferiority" among the black children that could  have an irreversible detrimental effect on the rest of their lives. In the spring of 1955 the  Court heard arguments about how their Brown decision might be implemented. At the end  of these arguments the Court remanded the four cases back to the district court with the  order to take whatever steps were necessary to "admit to public schools on a racially  nondiscriminatory basis with all deliberate speed the parties in these cases".

The Brown decision and the Court's demand for swift integration did not bring about the  immediate desegregation of public schools. The only school boards legally bound by the  Brown decision were those named directly in the cases on which the Court ruled, and the  only laws held unconstitutional were those specific laws cited by the plaintiffs. Ordinarily,  rules of constitutional law decided by the Supreme Court are universally accepted and  implemented where they apply. Technically, however, compliance is voluntary, and there  was intense resistance to implementation of the controversial Brown decision. The  political branches of government were employed to speed integration. The threat by the  Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to  withhold federal education funds from school districts that persisted in segregation  policies was one such way of encouraging integration. May school districts began busing  students from one neighborhood to another in an effort to achieve integration. May  southern states sought to obstruct integration through "massive resistance", and in 1965  less than 10 percent of the South's black students were in integrated public schools.

The Brown doctrine, which said that segregated schools are illegal, was extended to apply  to other public facilities through separate court cases involving, for instance, the  segregation of beaches (in Maryland), golf courses (in Atlanta), and recreation facilities (in  Memphis). Probably the most famous case ever decided by the Supreme Court, Brown v.  Board of Education was the first step in major reform of not only public education but also  race laws and policies in almost all aspects of American life.

JUNE 1954

Doug Poindexter's "Now She Cares No More"/"My Kind Of Carying On" (SUN 202) is released.  This recording features Scotty Moore and Bill Black, who become Elvis Presley's backing  musicians.

JUNE 1954

Elvis Presley drove ten miles to Doc's Bar in Frayser, where he could get on stage any night  he wanted to and practice his craft in front of what seemed to be generally disinterested  audience. Patrons at Doc's never forgot Elvis Presley, however, and later showed up  regularly at his Memphis shows. It was during this period that Elvis Presley began  experimenting with an uptempo version of Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right".

At Doc's bar,  Elvis Presley sang five Crudup's songs. Few people recognized the songs when Elvis Presley  sang them, because they were performed in a very unique upbeat rockabilly style.




01* - "THAT'S ALL RIGHT" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Hill and Range Songs Incorporated - Crudup Music
Recorded: - Unknown

02* - "ROCK ME MAMA" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Crudup Music
Recorded: - Unknown

Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Crudup Music
Recorded: - Unknown

Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Crudup Music
Recorded: - Unknown

Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Crudup Music
Recorded: - Unknown

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar (Martin Dreadnought 18)


FRAYSER MEMPHIS - is a neighborhood in north , Memphis, Tennessee. Frayser developed in  the mid twentieth century as an industrial, working class suburb due to its proximity to the  industrial area of Memphis, including a large International Harvester plant. As the factories  in the area began to close, the population of Frayser began to markedly dwindle in the  1970s and 1980s, and it stands at just under 50,000 today. With a large minority of its  residents earning incomes below the poverty line, only 6% holding college degrees, and a  continued lack of business and industrial investment, the neighborhood is now one of the  most economically depressed & highest crime-rated areas of Memphis. Additionally, the  neighborhood faces environmental problems because of industrial waste runoff and  contamination at or near the sites of now abandoned factories, which has made some land in  Frayser virtually uninhabitable without cleanup.

The community is also the home of multi-award winning songwriter Gary Harrison. Among  his many hit songs is "the Wrong Side of Memphis", a number one record for Trisha  Yearwood It is an autobiographical song about leaving Frayser for Nashville.

Hip-hop artist, Frayser Boy, also hails from the Frayser community.




Session details unknown

June 9, 1954 receipt for a two-sided acetate. >

On page 133 of Sean O'Neal's 'Elvis Presley Memorabilia' is a June 9, 1954 receipt for a twosided  acetate from the "Memphis Recording Service''. The caption claims it's possibly for  "That's All Right''/''Blue Moon Of Kentucky", but that's impossible because Presley didn't cut  the tunes until a month later. Looking closely at this June, 1954 two-sided acetate receipt,  it is clear Elvis cut two sides (Master 0914-A and 0914-B) on Saturday, 6/5, and picked up his  acetate dub on Wednesday, 6/9.

This documentation is likely for a song like, perhaps,  ''Casual Love''. Especially if combining the receipt with Sean O'Neal's revealing interview  with 'Elvis Presley Memorabilia'is available on Sean O'Neal's The flipside is likely another slow country ballad with just Elvis  on guitar, i.e. not ''Without You'' since Elvis paid for the acetate.

The song ''Casual Love Affair'' was actually first listed as ''Casual Love'' by Jerry Hopkins,  the ''Affair'' part was added later for some unknown reason. The song could actually be  Careless Love.

The receipt is very similar to the one for ''I'll Never Stand In Your Way''/''It Wouldn't Be the  Same Without You'', but it hasn't been verified as being real, and must be fake, as the  price ($8.25) is wrong. It should be $4.00 for both sides, and not $4.00 for each side!

Name (Or. No Of Instruments)
Elvis Presloey - Vocal and Guitar
More Details Unknown


JUNE 1954

During the month, Sam Phillips, owner of Sun Records, received a demonstration record of a  song titled "Without You", sent by Peer Music, a Nashville music publisher. Phillips tried in  vain to locate the singer of the demo. Marion Keisker, Phillips' secretary, suggested that he  call Elvis Presley in to see if he could sing the song. Well, Elvis was called by Sam Phillips and  asked to drop by the studio to see if he could sing a new song that Phillips had discovered.

Virginia Wynette Pugh remembers her mother coming home from her job at University  Park Cleaners in Memphis telling how the boss', Carney Moore, brother Scotty and a couple  of friends had been rehearsing for a recording session in the hat-blocking room at the  cleaners. "Mother used to come home and tell us about the noise upstairs where those kids  were playing loud music every day", she said. "Mother remembers Elvis as a sweet, nice  kid, polite and kind of shy", said Pugh, who later became a big-time recording star on her  own... under the name of Tammy Wynette. Her father, William Hollis Pugh, who died when  she was an infant, was a well-known guitarist in northern Mississippi. As a result, she had  grown up in a home filled with musical instruments. Nearly forty years later, Tammy  Wynette would recall the experience with relish. "Oh, yes, I watched Scotty many times",  she says. "There was this old black guy who worked in the back and Scotty would go back  there with his guitar, and this old black man and him would talk back and forth about  guitar licks". As the summer of 1954 wore on, she was drawn inextricably to a series of  practice sessions held upstairs over the dry cleaners - and to the mystery of the boy  named Elvis.


Elvis Presley entered the Music Box Night Club (Hideaway) located at Commerce Street in Nashville,  looking for a job. Roy Hall, owner of the club recalls, "I was drunk that night, I didn't feel  like playing piano, so I told him to get up there and start doing whatever in hell it was that  he did. I fired him after just one song that night. He wasn't no damn good". 

It is an  interesting story but doubtful, since Elvis Presley was living and working in Memphis at the  time. It seems to be popular among rockers who didn't make it big to claim they fired Elvis  Presley from their acts or clubs. Singer Eddie Dean also claimed to have fired Elvis Presley.  There is one segment of Hall's story that might be credible - that he gave Jerry Lee Lewis a  job at his club in 1956, and it was there that Lewis first learned Hall's song "Whole Lotta  Shakin' Goin' On".

ROY HALL – Roy Hall was a character, for sure. A country musician from the Appalachians, he was   variously a bandleader, night club owner, road manager, show promoter, newspaper proprietor, and general   hustler. There was a time when he stayed drunk a lot and played up the legend of the two-fisted pianopounder   who wrote one of the anthems of rock and roll and recorded some of the rawest music ever to come   out of the piano cracks between blues, boogie, and honky tonk music.

Roy Hall would boast that he recorded   four million sellers, "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On", "See You Later Alligator", "All By Myself" and "Blue   Suede Shoes", omitting to mention that these songs were million sellers for Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley, Fats   Domino and Carl Perkins respectively.

It is typical for the man. He was something of a fantasist. Often there   was a lot of truth in his stories as well, but Hall succeeded in obscuring the truth in each of the few   interviews he gave over the years, so attempting a reliable biographical sketch is no easy task.

Born James K. Hall on May 7, 1922 in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, a town smaller than it sounds, some twenty   miles from Bristol. ''That's the town that straddles the Tennessee state line'', he said. ''I was born on the   Virginia side. To begin with, Nick Tosches (in his book "Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n' Roll") promoted the  legend that Roy learned piano from "an old coloured man", who not only taught him the blues and the   boogie, but also how to drink hard liquor. In reality Hall started to play the piano through his mother's   influence. He had two lessons from a professional teacher, but found out that he was better at learning by ear.   "I could just listen to a tune and play it right off", he told Martin Hawkins in 1974.

In 1930, Hall was living at 237 East Third Street with his mother, Florence, and her parents, the   McCormacks. His father, Ray F. Hall, a railroad clerk, was lodging in nearby Gladeville on census day, but   ten years on he and Florence were living together with eighteen year old James, for whom no occupation was   shown. Possibly he was already working in the shadowy economy of the budding musician. He said, ''When I   started to play, we would work at all little country dances and school halls and social events in little noaccount   hillbilly towns. We played music for dancing mostly. I learned the piano first but I also learned to   play the accordion 'cos that was what was used in a lot of folk music at that time, and it was easier to carry   round the piano! Later on, when I got into the honky tonks and joints and all, then there was always a piano  and I went back to that as my main instrument''. First, though Hall had to do his bit for the War effort. He   enlisted in the Army on December 12, 1942 and was released on August 16 the following year. It was not a   matter he ever wanted to discuss.

James K. became 'Roy' sometime around 1945 or 1946. ''About then'', Hall said, ''I worked some around   Roanoke, Virginia, with some other boys, and we were the Hall Brothers. That was my first professional   band really''. Hall started playing professionally as a sideman with Uncle Dave Mason from the Grand Ole  Opry. By 1949 he had organized his own band, the Cohutta Mountain Boys. Roy played mainly piano with   this five-piece outfit and he is not the singer on "Dirty Boogie" (Fortune, 1949) and "Mule Boogie" (Bullet,   1950), the two prototype rockers for which he is best known from this early period. The singer was the   group's fiddle player, Frankie Brumbalough, but the record labels had Roy Hall's name out front and the   songs are associated with him. These two songs are by no means typical of the recordings that Hall's band  made in 1949-1950. Most of these were pure country, with some western swing thrown in for good measure.

In 1951 Hall formed a new band, the Eagles, which recorded three singles for Detroit's Citation Records. The   next year Hall recorded two singles with piano instrumentals (inspired by the success of Del Wood's "Down   Yonder") for the Tennessee label in Nashville. None of these early records achieved sales of any significance.   Roy opened an after-hours joint in Nashville called the Hideaway where he played piano. Webb Pierce was a   loyal customer at Hall's club and hired Roy as his piano player, using him on most of his recordings in 1954- 1955. Roy also did session work for Marty Robbins, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Patsy Cline. Legend has it that   Elvis Presley came to Roy's club one night in 1954, looking for work, but that Hall fired him after just one   night. "He weren't no damn good." More reliable is the claim that Jerry Lee Lewis played at the Hideaway   for a few weeks in early 1955. According to Hall, that's where Lewis first heard "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin'   On". Hall claims to be the co-writer of this song (under the pseudonym Sunny David), with Dave "Curlee"  Williams. It was first recorded by Big Maybelle on OKeh in March 1955 and then by Hall himself on   September 15, 1955, after Webb Pierce had helped him to get a Decca record deal. However, a sample copy   of this record shows Williams as the sole writer, and Williams is currently recognized as the sole composer,  after legal action from his side. Still, most of the "experts" seem to give Hall some credit for the writing of   "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On".

Roy recorded four sessions for Decca in 1955-1956 and these yielded some superb rockabilly recordings,   like "Three Alley Cats", "Diggin' the Boogie", "Off-Beat Boogie" and "You Ruined My Blue Suede Shoes"   (the last two originally unissued). Produced by Paul Cohen, these Decca tracks featured some of Nashville's   finest session men, with a special mention for the guitar of Grady Martin.

After another single for the Fortune label in Detroit, Hall recorded two sessions for the Sun label in   December 1957. The four resulting songs were not bad at all, but Sam Phillips refused to release them and   they did not become available until decades later. His next stop was at Hi-Q Records in Detroit, a Fortune   subsidiary. Two singles were released, the first of which (1958) was particularly good. It coupled the   humorous talking blues "Bed Spring Motel" with a faster remake of "Three Alley Cats".

In 1960, Hall had a release on Pierce Records (Webb Pierce's label), "Flood Of Love"/"One Monkey Can't   Stop the Show" and that's where Hall's career as a singer came to a provisional end. For the next two decades   Roy would concentrate on production and promotional work.

None of his enterprises took off in a big way and Hall developed a drinking problem, but he quit alcohol in   1972. In the 1970s he published the "Nashville Enquirer" newspaper, which primarily dealt with the country   music scene. He relaunched the Judd label in 1974 and later recorded an album for Barrelhouse Records of   Chicago. He was still working on his big moment, confident that it would come, when he died on March 2,   1984 at the age of 61.

Roy Hall was no great vocalist, but he played a mean boogie piano and he wrote several songs that could   easily have made it. In the words of Martin Hawkins: "He was there when it counted, even before it counted.   Maybe there was a lot more to Roy Hall than we have been able to piece together, and maybe there was less.   He had a raffish charm and left some music that endured from the ruckus of his life''.

A crowd of 5000 attend one of a Blackwood Brothers Gospel Program at Ellis Auditorium, Memphis,  Tennessee, 1950s.

JUNE 18, 1954 FRIDAY

Elvis Presley attended at the Ellis Auditorium the Blackwoods' last Memphis appearance. Also  attended Governor Frank Clement in the audience.

JUNE 25, 1954 FRIDAY

Elvis Presley and Ronald Smith drove away to Poughkeepsie and Charry Valley, Arkansas, for  one-night performance at the White River Festival in Batesville, Arkansas, just before Elvis'  fateful July 5 recording date in 1954.

Ronald Smith got the invitation, to bring a band out to  Kennedy Veterans Hospital to entertain the wounded troops, some holdovers from World War  II, some from the Korean Conflict.


In May 8 1954 Sam Phillips received a demo-acetate that had been set aside for him by Red Wortham, the song publisher   from Peer Records, who had steered the Prisonaires to Sun Records. Sam listened to it when he got back to Memphis, after an recording session with the Prisonaires in Nashville. It was a plaintive ballad called   ''Without   You'', sung by an unknown singer in a quavering voice that sounded like a cross between the Ink Spots and a sentimental Irish tenor, Sam could never remember, he may never have known, whether it came from a prisoner, and it was not really an accomplished performance, but the song stayed with him. Sam Phillips   failed to locate the singer and to Marion Keisker Sam had begun to talk more and more about finding someone, and it had to be a white man, because the wall that he had run into with his recordings practically proved that in the present racial climate it couldn't be a black, who might be able to bridge the gap. ''Over and over I heard Sam say'', said Marion Keisker, ''If I could find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, I could make a billion dollars!''. And he would always laugh, Marion said, as if to underscore that money was never the point, it was the vision, it was what would come afterward.   (In a Goldmine interview, Phillips said that  although Jerry Hopkins has quoted him as saying it in his book, he never uttered those now  famous words).

And than j ust a week before Dixie Locke was scheduled to leave for Florida, Marion Keisker called   Elvis Presley around nine o'clock in the morning. "She said, 'Can you be here by three?", said   Elvis Presley in later years. "I was there by the time she hung up the phone". "I guess I must   have sat there at least three hours", Elvis Presley told Memphis Press-Scimitar reporter Bob   Johnson in 1956. "I sang everything I knew, pop stuff, spirituals, just a few words of I  remembered". 



This rehearsal was probably not recorded. Several songs were attempted without success,   but no other titles are known. It's not impossible that they tried ''Casual Love'', since this   much talked about song obviously wasn't the flipside of the second acetate.



On Saturday, June 26, 1954, Sam Phillips called Elvis' house. Gladys Presley answered the phone, and she was amazed when Sam Phillips asked her to send her son down to the studio. Elvis Presley was there in twenty minutes, and he went through half a dozen takes of "Without You". Something just wasn't right about Elvis Presley, but Sam Phillips couldn't put his finger on the problem. Presley's vocals were uneven and Sam Phillips asked Elvis Presley if he would like a coke. They talked at length about music, and Sam Phillips suggested that Elvis Presley try another song. "You try one of your favorites", Phillips urged. When Elvis Presley sang Dean Martin's hit "That's Amore", Phillips advised Elvis Presley that he wasn't looking for a pop crooner. He lectured Elvis Presley on the necessity of infusing emotion and raw feeling into his songs. When Sam Phillips asked Elvis Presley for a tune he was comfortable with, Presley settled on "Rag Mop", although not the Ames Brothers 1950 hit, which wasn't Elvis' favourite version. As Sam Phillips talked to Elvis Presley he realized that Presley had been influenced by Joe Lutcher's "Rag Mop". Sam Phillips was astounded that Presley knew about the Los Angeles-based Lutcher, and even more surprised that Elvis Presley had a working knowledge of artists on Modern Records. Phillips had leased material to Modern, and he was happy that Elvis Presley knew their type of music.

01* - "WITHOUT YOU" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Peer Southern Music
Peer does indeed have the song called "Without You" on file, but that song is an
English adaptation of a Spanish song called "Tres Palabras" that had been kicking
around since 1942.
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued - Tape Lost
Recorded: - Possible June 26, 1954

Peer Music, a Nashville publisher, sent a demo tape of a song called "Without You" to Sun Records. Written by a white inmate at the Nashville Maximum Security Prison, Sam Phillips had first encountered the song, in unpublished form, on May 8, 1954, visit to see the Prisonaires at the Nashville State Penitentiary. Their rendition of the tune had failed to interest Sam Phillips, however. Eventually, a black singer was used by Peer Music to cut an acetate test pressing. In a cover letter, Peer pushed the tune as a natural for almost any Sun blues artist. It was common for music publishers to hire demo singers to make recorded samples of their songs, and because Peer executives realized that Sam Phillips had a stable of excellent blues singers, they neglected to identify the black singer that did the demo. After listening to the song, however, Phillips couldn't think of a Memphis artist to record it. Executives at Peer were surprised, then, when Phillips requested the singer's name, a singer who bore a striking resemblance to Roy Hamilton. Peer Music, however, had no record of the vocalist.

For a week, Sam Phillips pondered the question of who could effectively provide the vocal on "Without You". Sam Phillips constantly read the Billboard, Record World, and Cash Box chart. This encouraged Sam Phillips because it showed that white record buyers were eager to spend their money on black music, something which had not previously been the case.

After spending considerable time trying to find the right black artist, Sam Phillips instead began looking for a white artist to record black music. It was Marion Keisker's continued urgings that finally prompted Sam Phillips to consider Elvis Presley. Sam Phillips realized that Elvis Presley, more than any other white singer he knew, sounded a lot like the black singers. Still, it took Sam Phillips a month to bring Elvis Presley into the Sun studio; the groundwork was carefully laid for Elvis Presley's recording debut.

At that session, which probably took place in late May or June 1954, Elvis ran through several other songs he knew. Phillips took note that Elvis had talent and a few weeks later had Scotty Moore and Bill Black meet with him for rehearsals that led to Elvis' first commercial recording session on July 5, 1954. At Memphis State University located on Central Avenue in Memphis, on August 16, 1979, Jud Phillips played the Sun tape of Elvis Presley singing "Without You".

"I brought that record from the maximum security prison in Nashville", recalled Sam Phillips. "I had recorded The Prisonaires and I had "Just Walking In The Rain" out by 'em which was a big record, later covered by Johnny Ray. Anyway, I couldn't get The Prisonaires out anymore, they were all longtermers, black people, and I could not get 'em out. The Governor Frank Clement, was a little afraid as he'd already gotten a little flak about them coming to Memphis, even though I paid for the transportation, for the guards, the gas - so much a mile for  the vehicle that they came in and ... well, they came in two vehicles actually! So I went over there to record them inside the prison and I had heard from a guy over there by the name of Red Wortham, his uncle worked as a guard in the prison and Wortham, whom I really didn't know at the time but he knew of what I was doin' over here and he was after getting things recorded, he told me there was these people over there in prison and all they had was time on their hands and he said there should be a wealth of material and stuff and maybe even talent".

"So I got over there and Red had gone out to the prison and recorded this on a little old portable acetate recorder and, believe me, it was sometin' like Jimmie Rodgers recorded in 1929! But the song sounded good and at that time I was thinking... because actually the only two things I heard Elvis do when he came in was "My Happiness" and this Ink Spot thing "That's When Your Heartaches Begin". So I thought about him doin' this song that Red played me, "Without You".

"Presley came in, I was workin' on some tapes in the control room, listenin' to them by myself, Marion was up front... this was before I'd heard "Without You", this was when Presley first came in... I'm backtracking a little here... But I wrote his name down, how to get hold of him, and put it on the little old spindle up front as we were goin' out the door. And Marion was standing there, Elvis and I were talkin' and I told him I was goin' to the maximum security prison to see if I could find some songs and if I did I'd give him a call".

"So when I got back from seein' Red, that's when I called Elvis and he came over. I got Scotty Moore and Bill Black and they came to the studio and I played the song to 'em and tried to do it on the spot. I saw we were getting nowhere with it.. It was a ballad, and so I gave them the record If I recall correctly, I may have made a dub on that, I don't recall... Anyway, they had the record, took it with 'em and I said, 'Y'all go home and woodshed this thing and let's see what we can come up with'".

"So they went home and spent a couple of days - they all worked and had to do it after work in the evening. They came back and we really tried to do this thing, but it just never came off. So I set 'em free to work on anything, tellin' 'em the main thing was to get familiar with themselves. Elvis had never played with anybody in his life at all. I don't know, this went on for three or four months and we just couldn't seem to come up with that groove that I just really felt I could get outta' this guy".

"Finally, I just decided... we were getting ready to rack it up and go home... and I told 'em 'Let's try it again'. Now, keep in mind I heard sometin' in Presley that  intrigued the hell outta' me and it wasn't 'the most beautiful voice in the world', although he did have a beautiful voice, but I wasn't carin' about that. You had Eddie Fisher, Perry Como, Dean Martin, Patti Page, Doris Day... I wasn't interested in that, I couldn't do anything with it. I couldn't approach anything that I had in mind to do between black southern music and white southern music, the thing that I grew up on, and white and black southern religious music".

"I was looking for these things and the kinship there. I don't know exactly how I expected it to take place, I really do not, I guess it's just like a scientist in a lab with some test-tubes and a little acid here and whatever else. That's exactly what I consider my studio that y'all have been in: 706 Union was my lab of communicating with people - most especially the younger people. I'll tell you one other thing that is very important on this: I did not go into that studio one time thinkin' I was gonna make a hit record and be rich. I knew that I had to keep the  doors open because I had two small children, gosh, one of 'em was about eight- years-old, the other was about five by the time Elvis came along - one of 'em was five and the other two when I opened the doors, so I had to make a living".

"But I remember very well the day Presley first came in there - I was busy that day and it's a wonder I even accepted him and didn't tell Marion to have him come back later, because I had gotten where I wasn't doin' any personal recording much, I didn't have the time".

02 - "THAT'S AMORE" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Harry Warren-Jack Brooks
Publisher: - Chappell Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - Possible June 26, 1954

03 - "RAG MOP" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Johnny Lee Wills-Deacan Anderson
Publisher: - Unknown
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - Possible June 26, 1954

Its been reported that Elvis Presley recorded "Rag Mop" at Sun Records later in 1954, but no copy of the recording has ever surfaced. Sam Phillips was sufficiently impressed to call Scotty Moore, who had been working with Phillips to develop local talent. (Moore had been a frequent visitor at Sun Records, and he hung around Miss Taylor's cafe, next door to the Sun Studios).

Sam Phillips watched Elvis Presley intently through the glass of the control room window, and was no longer taping him, and in almost every respect this session had to be accounted a dismal failure, but still there was something... Sam Phillips just nodded and spoke in that smooth, reassuring voice: "You're doing just fine. Now just relax. Let me hear something that really means something to you now". When it is over, Elvis Presley was exhausted, he felt limp but strangely elated. "I was an overnight sensation. A year after they heard me the first time, they called me back!", he always told interviewers in later years.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar
(Martin Dreadnought 18)


The Blackwood Brothers Quartet gospel music group was set to perform at Chilton County’s Annual Peach Festival in Canton, Alabama, 1954. >

JUNE 27, 1954 SUNDAY

After the session of June 26, 1954, Sam Phillips called upon Scotty Moore, asking Moore to  also arrange for Bill Black to be there. Sam Phillips respected Scotty Moore's intuitive feeling  about musical talent, and Sam Phillips urged Scotty Moore to set up an occasion a few days  prior to the session where he could get to know Elvis Presley.

Scotty Moore recalls his first  meeting with Elvis Presley: "Well my first meeting was naturally a couple of weeks before, or  rather, no, it wasn't a couple of weeks before, it was a few days before our first actual  session''.

''I had been working with Sam Phillips for several months trying to come up with a  record, an artist, a song, anything we could make a buck with and during this process Elvis'  name came up and Sam Phillips gave me his number and I called him to come over to my  house". What Moore failed to note or remember was that it was Sam Phillips who had  instructed him to get to know Elvis Presley before the first recording session, and not  something Scotty Moore had done just for the sake of making Elvis' acquaintance.

JUNE 28, 1954 MONDAY

Elvis showed up at Leonard's Drive-In. Instead of being full of stories about his session, he  was subdued and reluctant to talk about what happened until pressed. "I don't know why but  it was jus' awful. I was jus' awful. It was a pretty 'nough song but I couldn't get 'hold of it. Mr.  Phillips made me sing it over and over, with a band, without a band... He tried being' nice  but he hated the way I sang it, everyone could tell. Nobody would look me in the eye. It was  so humiliatin'. I wanted to run outa there and not look back".

Elvis Presley let out a trembling sigh and looked up with puppy-soft eyes, his vulnerability  apparent enough to break your heart. "I couldn't believe it when he tol' me to come back the  next afternoon 'cause he wanted me to try somethin' else. I'da never let me back in the  door".


R.W. Blackwood (baritone) and Bill Lyles (bass) of the Blackwood Brother's Quartet were  killed in a light plane crash outside Clanton, Alabama, following the Chilton County Peach  gospel show and after a concert in Gulfport, Mississippi. R.W.'s youngster brother, Cecil, was  Elvis' classmate at the Assembly of God Sunday school.

JULY 1954

"The Great Medical Menagerist" (SUN 205) by Harmonica Frank is released.

Johnny Cash leaves the Armed Services and returns to Memphis. His brother introduces  him to the Tennessee Three: Luther Perkins, Marshall Grant and Red Kernodle.


Elvis Presley came straight from his work to Dixie Locke's house, he didn't even bother to  change. It was obvious from his tear-streaked face that he knew what had happened with  the Blackwood Brothers. They went to Gaston Riverside Park that night and sipped on milk  shakes and cried.

The Blackwood Brothers lineup of Bill Shaw, James Blackwood, R.W. Blackwood, Bill Lyles and Jackie Marshall were set to perform at the 1954 Chilton County Peach Festival, Canton, Alabama. >


A funeral was held at the Ellis Auditorium for the two members of the Blackwood Brothers.  Elvis Presley reportedly was so upset that he and Dixie Locke grieved all night on a bench in  Riverside Park by McKeller Lake.

It was the first time that a funeral service had ever been  conducted at Ellis Auditorium. The Statesmen sang, and so did the Speers and five other  quartets. Governor Frank Clement, who had been present at the Blackwoods' last Memphis  concert, delivered a sincere and emotional eulogy. 

There were close to five thousand people  present, included Elvis Presley, they opened up the North Hall when the South Hall was  filled. "A number of negroes called the Auditorium asking if they could attend the funeral,  and the galleries were reserved for negroes", Chauncey Barbour, Auditorium manager, said.  The Reverend Hamill preached the sermon, and Dr. Robert G. Lee of Bellevue Baptist Church  delivered the prayer.

RIVERSIDE PARK/MCKELLER LAKE - McKeller Lake is actually an old channell bed of the  Mississippi River located southwest of downtown Memphis. The Corps of Engineers dredged  and shaped the channel bed to create the new Port of Memphis. The new lake was named  in honor of Senator McKeller, who supported the harbor project. The surrounding dock  facilities and industrial sites make this an unusual place for water recreation. Elvis Presley  was no stranger to this small recreational area by Riverside Park. Bob Neal and his family  liked to boat here, and Elvis often joined them in the 1954 through 1955. Riverside Park is  one of the places where Elvis courted Dixie Locke in the summer of 1953 and 1954.

Cecil Blackwood >


Less than two weeks later, Cecil Blackwood was chosen to join the quartet, and he asked  Elvis to fill his vacancy in the Songfellows and was formed by Jim Hamil and Cecil  Blackwood, a nephew of James Blackwood, a subsidiary of the Blackwood Brothers. Elvis  Presley knew both, and asked for an audition. "Elvis wanted to fill the opening that was left  in the Songfellows, which was a local quartet", said R.W. Blackwood.

"The Songfellows were  managed by my uncle Cecil who was the lead singer, and my father's younger brother who  moved from that group to the Blackwood Brothers. Elvis decided to try out for the  Songfellows.

We were quite busy and did a lot of singing, however, after some awkwardness,  the group turned him down". "I remember he was very upset about that.

Hamill recalled years later: "I did not tell Elvis he couldn't sing. I told him he couldn't hear  harmony. And he couldn't. As long as he was singing lead, he was fine, but when the  baritone or the tenor took the lead, someone had to sing harmony, and he could not  harmony. He'd sing baritone a line or two, then switch off to tenor for a couple of lines,  and wind up singing the lead part. That was the reason we didn't take him into the quartet  with us".

Elvis Presley listened, continued to improve, and a few months later on July 2, 1954, the  Songfellows gave him a second shot when Cecil moved up to the regular Blackwoods  Brothers. "When he learned to sing harmony, he had already signed that contract with Sun  Records. Me and Cecil went to him and tried to get him to break his contract and sing in  the quartet with us - but he wouldn't. Or couldn't". By then, Elvis Presley had a contract  "TO SING THE BLUES".

Cecil Blackwood died on November 12, 2000 at Baptist Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

James Blackwood >

James Blackwood picks up the story from here. "Elvis and Cecil were in the same Sunday  School class at First Assembly Of God Church", said James Blackwood. Cecil, young James  Hamill (the preacher's son) and a couple of others had a gospel group, the Songfellows. Elvis  would sing (in rehearsal) a lot with them. One of the guys was supposed to leave and Elvis  was set to take his place, but the guy changed his mind. Later, another said he was leaving  and Elvis was going to take his place, but he, too, changed his mind.

"Then, Sun Records came along and his whole life took a change. I've seen stories that said  Elvis tried out for the Songfellows and the Blackwood Brothers and didn't make it. 

That's  just not the way it happened. When Elvis was living in Lauderdale Courts and we had those  big gospel conventions at Ellis Auditorium, I would take Elvis backstage with me", said  Blackwood. "One time I didn't see him and he went to the front door. People there didn't  know who he was, so he had to buy a ticket. When I found out about this, I wrote him a  letter and enclosed a check - I think it was for $1.25 - and sent it to him to refund his  money. That was about 1954. I heard they still have that check down at Graceland".

"That finished it, and I think Elvis was disappointed, but he still sang with the boys from  time to time during rehearsals". Elvis Presley continued to come to the All-Night Sings.  Later he would sing an occasional solo with the Blackwoods backing him up. James  Blackwood recalls, "He often kept his eyes shut as he sang. Some dreams died hard". "He  always came to the gospel conventions and, when Bob Neal was his manager, we would  introduce him and he would come on stage and sing a couple of gospel songs. We and the  Statesmen would sing harmony behind him. Then, after Colonel Tom Parker took over, he  put a stop to Elvis singing on stage. Still, he would come, but we only introduce him".


On the afternoon of this date, Scotty Moore, then twenty-two, stopped by Memphis  Recording Service to chat with Sam Phillips. It had been two months since the release of "My  Kind Of Carrying On". On that July 3 the heat was suffocating. Since it was Saturday, many  people sought refuge in the air-conditioned movie theaters.   On that particular day, you  could see Gary Cooper and Susan Hayward in Garden of Evil, Elizabeth Taylor and Dana  Andrews in Elephant Walk, or if you taste were more exotic, Lana Turner in Flame and the  Flesh.

The hottest movie in town would not be shown until after dark, when the Sunset  Drive-In ran the steamy Naughty New Orleans, an uncensored look at New Orleans strippers.

When Scotty Moore arrived at the studio, there were no customers, so Marion Keisker and  Sam Phillips went with Scotty to Taylor's cafe for a cup of coffee. Scotty got right to the  point. "You called that boy yet?", he asked. Finally, Sam Phillips gave in. He told Marion  Keisker to dig out the boy's name and phone number and give it to Scotty Moore. Later,  when she gave Scotty his name, he was taken aback. "What kind of a name is this?", Scotty  asked. He read the name over a second time - Elvis Presley.

"I don't know", answered Sam Phillips. "It's his name. Give him a call. Ask him to come over  to your house and see what you think". By the time Scotty Moore got home it was late in  the afternoon. He called Elvis Presley that evening after dinner. Gladys Presley, his  mother, said that he had gone to a movie. Scotty said he represented Sun Records and  wanted to talk to Elvis about an audition. Gladys said she would make sure Elvis returned  his call.

Scotty Moore's wife, Bobbie, had just cleared away the dinner dishes when the phone  rang. The call said his name was Elvis Presley. He said he was returning Scotty's call. Scotty  explained that he was working for Sam Phillips, helping him look for talent for Sun  Records. Would Elvis be interested in coming over to the house for an informal audition?

"Well, I guess so", said Elvis. "How about tomorrow?", asked Scotty. "All right", said Elvis.  Scotty gave him directions to the house, They agreed to meet sometime after lunch.

Johnny Cash left after duty for four years the U.S. Air Force.


Memphis sizzled. The temperature peaked at 100 degrees at 3:20 p.m. and didn't dip below  90 until 8 p.m. The humidity hung fast at 92 percent. The Fairground Amusement Park  opened at 2 p.m., offering cold watermelon and a concert by Slim Rhodes. There would be  no fireworks on the Fourth that year, it would be sacrilegious to do that on Sunday, but the  following day the skies over the fairgrounds would be ablaze with rockets' red glare. Elvis  Presley arrived shortly after noon at Scotty Moore's house. He had on a white lacy shirt, pink  pants with a black stripe down the legs, and white buck shoes. He was carrying a guitar.

"Is this the right place", he said when Bobbie Moore answered the door. "Yeah, it's the right  place. Come on in". Scotty's wife left Elvis in the living room and went into the bedroom to  tell Scotty. "That's guy's here", she said. "What guy?", asked Scotty. "You know, the guy you  invited over", she said. "They sat around for a while talking", recalls Bobbie Moore. "Then  they started playing. Scotty asked me to go and ask Bill Black to come down and I did".  Bill's bass was already there, propped in the corner of the living room. He kept it at  Scotty's house because, with two children, he didn't have room for it at his own place.

As Scotty Moore and Elvis Presley went through Elvis' song list, Bill came over and sat  down to listen. An hour or two later, Bobbie returned. "He had his audience then", she  recalls. "He was doing o lot of slow ballads. Everything had the word 'because' in it,  "Because Of You", "I Love You Because", "Because You Think You're So Pretty", I don't think  anyone was real impressed. He had a good voice and he could sing, but the type of stuff he  was singing, he was just like everybody else".


Based on Scotty Moore's recommendation, Sam Phillips called Elvis Presley at night and set   up an audition for Monday night at the studio.

Scotty Moore's apartment with sidewalk construction, 983 Belz Street, Memphis, Tennessee. Photo taken in October 2010. >


Sunday, July 4, 1954, Elvis Presley went to Moore's apartment on 983 Belz Street, with Bill Black arriving later that afternoon. Elvis Presley was dressed in a pink shirt, pink pants with a white stripe down the legs, and white shoes. Scotty recalled that he had "lots of hair". Some of the songs the three rehearsed were here.

Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black practised a couple of songs in Moore's living room as Memphis prepared for its July 4 celebration. The fireworks made the evening celebration a festive. Beale Street was crowded with tourists and the music blared from the clubs.

The Bel-Air, Bon Air and Eagle's Nest were alive with country music, and the streets were filled with paetygoers, a fitting setting for the night before Elvis Presley's debut recording session. Repertoire based on interviews with Scotty and Bobbie Moore, Evelyn Black en Johnny Black, brother of Bill Black.



01* - "IF I DIDN'T CARE" - A.S.C.A.P.
Composer: - Jack Lawrence
Publisher: - Chappell & Corporation
Matrix number: - None - Unissued
Recorded: - July 4, 1954

Composer: - Sam Coslow-Wilhelm "Will" Grosz - Written in 1939
Publisher: - Bourne Music Company
Matrix number: - None - Unissued
Recorded: - July 4, 1954

Composer: - Don Robertson-Jack Rollins
Publisher: - Unknown
Matrix number: - None - Unissued
Recorded: - July 4, 1954

Elvis is reported to have recorded "I Don't Hurt Anymore" while at Sun Records, but no evidence has surfaced.

04* - "I APOLOGIZE" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Al Hoffman-Al Goodhart-Ed Nelson - Written in 1930
Publisher: - Unknown
Matrix number: - None- Unissued
Recorded: - July 4, 1954

Composer: - Don Robertson-Howard Barness
Publisher: - Hill and Range Songs Incorporated - Carlin Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Unissued
Recorded: - July 4, 1954

Composer: - Ray Gilbert-Augustin Lara
Publisher: - Latin American Music Ltd.
Matrix number: - None - Unissued
Recorded: - July 4, 1954

Composer: - Leon Payne
Publisher: - Bourne Music Incorporated - Acuff Rose Music Publishing Company Limited
Matrix number: - None - Unissued
Recorded: - July 4, 1954

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)

When Scotty Moore later described the June 27 practice session, he remembered how wildly Presley had dressed that Sunday afternoon. "I thought my wife was going out the back door", Moore recalled. Once the shock over Elvis' clothes subsided, they practised for awhile doing two country songs and one ballad. This combination of country and ballad tunes, Bill Black reasoned, was enough to guarantee Elvis Presley some success. There was another side to Presley's music that neither Scotty nor Bill witnessed that afternoon, however. Since Elvis Presley wasn't able to perform an uptempo song, they didn't realize his potential as a rockabilly singer.

"And one day, Marion Keisker was in the studio with us and I don't think Sam mentioned Elvis by name", recalled Scotty Moore, "but he said, 'Have we still git that boy's name and phone number that was in about a year ago?'. He said, 'The best I remember he had a pretty good voice'. Marion told him yeah and Sam said, 'Let me get a hold of him and bring him in for an audition'. So, of course, I picket up on that and then for about the next two weeks or so I'd say, 'Did you call this guy yet? Did you get in touch with him?' And he finally told me to give him a call and get him to come over to my house and just kinda do a preliminary thing - see what I thought. So I called him... I think this was on a Saturday... or Sunday... told him who I was, told him I was workin' with Sam Phillips and Sun Records and that we were basically lookin' for some talent, was he interested and would he come on over.

"He said yeah. So the next day he came over to my house and at that time, Bill Black just lived a few doors down the street from me and he came down while we were there. I told Elvis to just sing some songs like he normally did. He ran the whole gamut - everything from rhythm and blues to country, pop, Eddy Arnold, Ray Charles - just a little bit of everything".

"After he left I called Sam and told him, I said, 'The guy's got a good voice, it'll just be a matter of probably gettin' the right style, the right song or somethin' of that nature'".

"Sam said, 'Fine, I'll cal him and we'll set up an audition - see what he sounds like on tape'. He said, 'Why don't you and Bill come in and do a little background music - don't need the whole band'. So, basically, that's what happened; we went in and started goin' through different songs... "Blue Moon" was one of the ones we ran through and was on tape before we ever got to "That's All Right"?

Before too long, Moore's wife Bobby, stopped the festivities and reminded everyone that, although the music impressed her, it was a holiday. No matter, as after they had gone through two or three different songs, Scotty Moore decided that Elvis Presley left and Scotty and Bill talked about Elvis' performance. "The boy sings pretty good", Scotty remarked, "but he didn't knockrai me out". He then called Sam Phillips and stated that Elvis Presley was ready to record. A week later, on July 5, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black recorded "That's All Right" at the Sun Studio. The full sound they created was so good that Sam Phillips didn't bother to add any additional instrumentation.


SCOTTY MOORE - Musician, producer, and guitar-player, born Winfield Scott Moore III on December 27,  1931 in Crockett County about five miles from Gadsden and five miles from Humboldt, Tennessee. His  father, Winfield Scott Moore, and three older brothers, Carney, Edwin, and Ralph, played in a country band  and this in turn prompted Scotty to take an interest in music. He got his first guitar when he was 8 years old,  from a neighbour, and old man named Rip Brown. Scotty Moore started school at the age of five at a oneroom  schoolhouse in Coxville.

Before the year was out, he was transferred to a larger school in Humboldt. On one Christmas day, Scotty  play as a child with an received BB gun. As he was shooting the gun, one of the BBs rococheted back into  his facem striking him in his left eye. Ever since the accident, Scotty has been legally blind in one eye. By  January 1948, Scotty Moore would join the navy and see the world.

Scotty Moore played lead guitar for Elvis Presley from his first recording session in July 1954, through June  1968. Moore first formed a band while he was in the U.S. Navy in the late 1940s, played with a group of  musicians who broadcast over station KBRO in Washington, D.C. On discharge from the service, Scotty  moved to Memphis where two of his brothers owned a laundry and dry cleaners.

Whilst working as a hatter, he put together in 1954 a country outfit, along with Bill Black, called The  Starlite Wranglers, a group fronted by singer Doug Poindexter. The rest of the band consisted of Clyde Rush  (rhythm guitar), Milard Yow (steel guitar), Tommy Deals (fiddle) and Bill Black (bass), and on May 25,  1954, this line-up recorded a solitary release for Sun Records, "My Kind Of Carryin' On"/"Now She Cares  No More For Me" (SUN 202), both numbers written by Scotty Moore.

While with that group, Moore was asked by Sam Phillips to invite Elvis Presley over to Moore's apartment  to rehearse a few songs. On Sunday, June 27, 1954, Elvis Presley went to Moore's apartment, with Bill  Black arriving later that afternoon. Some of the songs the three rehearsed were: "I Don't Hurt Anymore", I  Apologize", and "I Really Don't Want To Know". A week later, on July 5, Elvis, Scotty, and Bill recorded  "That's All Right" at the Sun Studio. The full sound they created was so good that Sam Phillips didn't bother  to add any additional instrumentation.

On July 12, 1954, a week after the first Sun recording session, Moore became Elvis' first manager. He and  Elvis signed a one-page contract giving Moore a ten percent commission on all of the bookings he made.  Elvis' parents also signed the document because their son was not yet twenty-one. When Moore discovered  that he could not be both musician and manager, he allowed Elvis to void the contract, this allowing him to  sign with Bob Neal. For a brief time, on the "Louisiana Hayride" and while touring in the South in 1955,  Elvis, Scotty, and Bill were known as the Blue Moon Boys. In September 1957 Moore and Black split with  Elvis because they didn't like the salary they were receiving (they got a flat - no royalties). Both came back  to record with Elvis until he went into the Army. Bill Black never recorded with Elvis again. Moore did go  back to Elvis in 1960, staying with him until 1968. During his two-year hiatus, Moore produced and played  on some Jerry Lee Lewis recording sessions, with songs that included: "Sweet Little Sixteen" (SUN 379),  "Good Rockin' Tonight" (SUN 1265), "Hello Josephine" (SUN 1265), and "Be-Bop-a-Lula" (SUN 1265).  He recorded for CBS the 1964 album "The Guitar That Changed The World" on Epic Records.

Moore's last work with Elvis Presley was for the 1968 NBC-TV special, on which Elvis asked him to  appear. It was also the last time that Moore would see Elvis. Although Sam Phillips is given credit for  developing Elvis' talents in the early years (and rightly so!), Moore hasn't gotten much acknowledgment.  Moore, perhaps more than anyone, must be given credit for creating the driving guitar sound on his Gibson  guitar that became known as the "Elvis Presley Sound". Singer Elton John once said of Moore, "It was  Scotty Moore's guitar riff when he was doing "The Steve Allen Show" that got me into rock music". Moore  was portrayed by Emory Smith in the 1981 movie "This Is Elvis".

The Guitar That Changed The World - the title of Scotty Moore's 1964 Epic album of Elvis songs which has  seen many reissues over the years - said it all. Scotty's distinctive and highly original guitar sound was the  bedrock of the early Presley releases, creating licks and solos that have been much copied, but never  bettered, down through the years. He worked with Elvis Presley for the best part of 14 years, playing lead  guitar on virtually all of his pre-Army recordings and continuing throughout the best part of the 1960s to  the 1970s primarily as rhythm guitarist.

In 1992, Moore returned to Memphis, where he recorded an album with Carl Perkins called ''706 ReUnion:  A Sentimental Journey''. In 1994, he recorded an album with Sonny Burgess that was produced by  Garry Tallent of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. Three years later, he and D.J. Fontana reunited for an  album entitled ''All The King's Men'' that featured all-star backing by acolytes of the two Presley sideman,  including Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, Ron Wood and Levon Helm.

Scotty Moore has continued to tour and record into the 21st Century. In April 1999, he toured the  United Kingdom, where he met George Harrison and Robert Plant. Four years later, in April 2003, he  recorded an album with Alvin Lee of Ten Years After. And in 2007, he released two CDs, ''The Mighty  Handful, Volumes I and II''. In 2002, Scotty Moore won the Orville H. Gibson Lifetime Achievement  Award, and Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at Number 44 on its list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of  All Time.

At the age of 84, Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley's longtime guitarist and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame  inductee, died on Tuesday June 28, 2016 at his home in Nashville, Tennessee. No cause of death was  provided, but More had been in poor health in recent months.

Bill Black, circa 1960. >

BILL BLACK - (1926-1965) Bass player, nicknamed "Blackie", who backed Elvis Presley on  many of his 1950s recordings. William Patton Black was born in Memphis on September 17, 1926,  to a poor family. He had two brothers, Johnny ("Jack"), a musician, and Kenny. At one time,  he and his brothers and mother, Ruth Black, lived in the same Memphis apartment complex  as the Presley family (Lauderdale Courts). Prior to joining Elvis, Black played with the  Starlite Wranglers, a Doug Poindexter group that included Scotty Moore on guitar.

It has  often been says that Sam Phillips introduced Elvis Presley to Scotty Moore and Bill Black. But  Elvis may have already known Bill and "jammed" with him and his brother Johnny, since they  were neighbours at the Lauderdale Courts and their mothers were friends.

(In an interview  with Jay Thompson in 1956, Elvis stated that he never knew Scotty or Bill before they  recorded together; however, Elvis unintentionally gave misinformation in some of his  interviews). Bill Black, Scotty Moore, and Elvis were briefly known as the Blue Moon Boys in  1955. They performed together on the "Louisiana Hayride" show and in many one-night  stands throughout the South. Black added some fun to the performances when he would ride  his big bass across the stage, slapping it like some racehorse that was just inches from the  tape and that pot of gold! Some of the early live recordings on tour give examples of Black at  work, messing up songs intros and screaming in the background. Black played Eddy the bass  player in the 1957 movie "Loving You".

Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis' manager, told Bill Black to tone it down and just play the bass;  that people wanted to see "my boy", not him acting the fool. This would probably be one  of the many reasons there was little love lost between Bill Black and Tom Parker. There  was also the oft-mentioned case of Elvis' tune "Baby I Don't Care" where Black couldn't get  the famous and distinctive intro right ob his new electric bass and stormed off the studio.  This left Elvis Presley to play the intro.

After Black and Moore left Elvis on September 21, 1957, because of a salary dispute (Elvis  was making millions, while Moore and Black were making paltry $100-a-week salaries).  Black formed the Bill Black Combo, Black did play on three more recording sessions with  Elvis (January 15-16, January 23, and February 1, 1958). He was replaced by Bob Moore.  The Bill Black Combo recorded a number of hit records for another Memphis company, Hi  Records founded by Joe Coughi. Their hits included the instrumental "Smokie Part 2" (Hi
2018), and "White Silver Sands" (Hi 2021), both released in 1960. Black also recorded a  version of "Don't Be Cruel" (Hi 2026). The Bill Black Combo appeared in the 1961 movie  "Teen-Age Millionaire". Carl McAvoy, an original member of Bill Black's Combo, is a cousin  of Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, and evangelist Jimmy Swaggart. Black once owned a  recording studio across the street from American Sound Studios in the North Main section  of Memphis. Billboard magazine gave the Bill Black Combo its "Most Played Instrumental  Group" award three times during the early 1960s.

In 1965 Black was hospitalized at the Baptist Memorial Hospital three times, from June to  October 8 (when he went into a coma). On October 21, 1965, Bill Black died of a brain  tumour during surgery. Vernon Presley attended the funeral, but Elvis did not. Elvis and  his further wife Priscilla did visit the Black family not long after.

Black was survived by his wife, Evelyn, and three daughters. The stand-up bass that Black  used on his recordings with Elvis is today owned by Paul McCartney, a bass player himself.  (On Wings 1979 album "Back To The Eggs", McCartney played the bass, which still had the  name Bill on the lower left, on the song "Baby's Request", which Paul had originally  composed for the Mills Brothers).

Bill Black is buried at Forrest Hill Cemetery at 1661 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis,  included Packy Axton of the Mar-Keys, and the original grave sites of Elvis Presley and Gladys  Presley, often marred by graffiti.

JOHNNY BLACK - Brother of musician Bill Black who also played stand-up bass. According  to several sources, Elvis and Johnny buddied around together in the early 1950s and  appeared with Johnny and Dorsey Burnette at various places in Memphis, usually on  Saturday nights. According to Paul Burlison in an article in Goldmine magazine, it was  Johnny Black whom Sam Phillips wanted to play bass behind Elvis in 1954, but Bill  volunteered because his brother was away in Texas. Johnny Black can be seen playing bass  for the Johnny Burnette Trio in the 1957 movie "Rock, Rock, Rock.

(The Burnette Trio  disbanded soon after the movie, and brothers Johnny and Dorsey Burnette each had  successful solo careers). Johnny Black played bass for Dean Bernard at Sun Records in  1956.


Sun Recording Studio, circa mid-1980s. >


Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black, arrived at the small studios of Sun Records on 706  Union Avenue in Memphis about 8:00 p.m. on July 5, 1954. During the evening, they  recorded several songs including "That's All Right". Over the next evening or two, they  recorded "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", and Elvis Presley had both sides of his first Sun Records  release.

The record was played over several local radio stations the following Saturday  evening, July 10, and it was an instant success in Memphis. The resulting clamour led to  immediate bookings for the trio as the intermission relief act for the Poindexter's weekend  dates.

At first nothing seemed to go right. The first couple of songs they tried were ballads,   naturally (a touchingly revealing "I Love You Because" remains intact from that session and   was released later on Elvis' first RCA album), and the musicians seemed to be casting about   for a direction, trying out snatches of one song, then another, without ever really hitting   on, or even knowing, what it was they were looking for. But Sam Phillips was nothing if not   patient, "In a personality not really given to patience", said Marion Keisker, "he showed  unbelievable empathy and understanding", and he gave no indication he was growing   discouraged in any way or was concerned about the time. Then, as the musicians took a   break and were sipping on Cokes, "all of a sudden", said Scotty, "Elvis just started singing   this song and acting the fool, and then Bill picked up his bass and he started acting the   fool, too, and I started playing with them. Sam, I think, had the door to the control booth   open, and he stuck his head out and said, "What are you doing?". And we said, "We don't   know". "Well, back up", he said, "try to find a place to start, and dot it again". This song   was "That's All Right", an old blues by Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, and nothing could have   surprised Sam Phillips more than that this boy should even know, let alone perform with   such freshness and verve, the music for which Sam had crusaded all these years, music of   which he would later say with deep-seated satisfaction, "This is where the soul of man   never dies". And while he had never anticipated, he could never have dreamt of this turn   of events, it was one that he seized upon instantly, as he had Elvis and Scotty and Bill run  through "That's All Right" until they got it right and, in the next few nights, watched them   hit upon their transformation of Bill Monroe's bluegrass classic, "Blue Moon Of Kentucky",   in similar fashion. "We thought it was exciting", said Scotty, "but what was it? It was just so   completely different. But it just really flipped Sam - he felt it really had something. We   just sort of shook our heads and said, "Well, that's fine, but good God, they'll run us out of   town!".

That in a way was the story of Elvis Presley's Sun recordings: it represented, in a sense,  the peeling away of layers, psychological as well as musical, the uncovering of depths  which, if not hitherto unsuspected, had hitherto lain unplumbed. As he had already done  with the blues singers for whom he had opened his studio, and as he would with each of  the so-called "rockabilly" artists who followed (Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison,  Charlie Rich, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sonny Burgess and many others), Sam Phillips saw it as his  mission to "open up an area of freedom within the artist himself, to help him to express  what he believed his message to be".

With Elvis Presley he was astonished to discover an  individual with a musical curiosity as omnivorous as his own ("It seemed like he had a  photographic memory for every damn song he ever heard, and he had the most intuitive  ability to hear songs without ever having to classify them, or himself"). In the studio his  aim was to bring out that curiosity, to encourage that area of creative difference, to stifle  not even the smallest element of exploration. "I had a mental picture of what I wanted to  hear. Not note for note certainly, but in its essence: I wanted simpliciter, where we could  look at what we were hearing and say, "This guy has just got it".

That was why Sam was so taken with the trio format, with trying out different ways of  mixing the bass so that it would sound natural and creating a "total rhythm feel" that could  move fluidly in any given direction. Sam Phillips prided himself on his engineering skills,  which had been honed by over ten years in radio (much of it big band broadcasts), and he  worked assiduously to create a distinctive and individual sound for each recording,  combining clarity, presence, and a kind of adjustable reverb that he dubbed "slapback".  When he introduced drums for the first time on the fourth Sun single, it was the idea of  getting a very specific sound. But if it came down to a choice between sound and feel,  there was never any question which Sam Phillips, or Elvis Presley, would choose. Sam  believed totally in the accidental, the unexpected, the unique; he placed his full faith in  the spontaneity of the moment, whether or not it might include formal mistakes. And that  is exactly how Elvis Presley's records were made. The Sun sides still have a freshness  about them that is almost uncanny. They are timeless in a way that virtually defies logic at  a moment in history when last year's pop trends sound dated. And yet each one is  different, the sound and feel and mood of each is distinctively its own, each one very  much reflects the individual circumstances of its making. If you are looking for an  evolutionary pattern, it would come solely in the realm of rhythm, for rhythm was at the  heart of Sam Phillips' aesthetic.

With Elvis he continued to record the ballads that had first caught his attention, and there  is no question that he continued to appreciate them as well. But he released only the  rhythm numbers - in a sense every session was a matter of waiting the musicians out,  going wherever it was that chance, or whim, or natural symbiosis might take them, and  then, as at that very first session, "turning the light on" when he finally spotted the  possum. With Bill Black it was very much a question of appreciating Bill's good qualities as  a bass player while overlooking the bad ("Bill was the worst bass player in the world,
technically, but, man, could he slap that bass!"). And with Scotty, who had started out as  the closest thing to a collaborator that Sam Phillips would ever entertain, Sam kept playing  records by Little Junior Parker, John Lee Hooker, Floyd Murphy or Pat Hare or one of the  many other distinctive Memphis blues guitarists that he had himself recorded. Scotty's  hero was Chet Atkins, and Sam appreciated Chet Atkins' pretty thumb-picking, too, he  appreciated it very much - but he was always on Scotty to emphasize the rhythm. "I told  him, "We don't want none of that soft bullshit. We want some biting bullshit!". "Everything  had to be a stinger - and it had to have great rhythm".


In a number of interviews, Scotty Moore has suggested that the session planned for, July 5, was really Elvis Presley's first audition, an unrehearsed event that lead immediately to Elvis' emergence as an "undiscovered"talent. Either Moore was unaware of how much Sam Phillips had observed, talked to, and worked with Elvis Presley prior to that time, or he was attempting to perpetuate the legend that Elvis Presley was an overnight sensation.

The following year, Scotty Moore began to tell the revised story of how he first met and recorded with Elvis Presley. This version, which surfaced in December 1955, bears the unmistakable influence of Colonel Tom Parker.

The Colonel intended to preserve and perpetuate the myth that Elvis Presley was an original talent who simply walked into Sun Records off the street, and that is not true. A more plausible explanation is that Scotty Moore and Bill Black were brought into the studio to back Elvis Presley because he was finally ready to record a commercially acceptable record, and that there was nothing accidental about Elvis' first recording session. Sam Phillips' goal was to achieve a regional hit record, a tactic he had used with many other artists, and the direction from which, its safe to assume, he initially approached Elvis Presley. This first session began on the 5th, and took at least three maybe four nights. There are probably unreleased songs from this sessions.



On Monday night, July 5, 1954, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black showed up at the Sun studio around seven o'clock. Scotty had offered to bring the entire band, but Sam Phillips didn't want to make a big deal out of it. The idea was to see what Elvis Presley could do, not to make a record. Scotty on guitar and Bill on bass would be enough. Sam wanted to keep it as simple as possible. Elvis Presley reported to Sun for his first recording session, arriving about seven, Elvis Presley was nervous, so Sam Phillips suggested that they begin the session with an old standard, although not a favorites' of Sam Phillips.

First came the small talk. Complaints about the heat (the temperature was still hovering around 90 degrees). Then the inevitable, what songs do you know? Then, what songs do you know that I know? Finally, for starters, they picked "Harbor Lights". Then they did one of Elvis' "because" numbers. They did one ballad after another.

01(1) - "HARBOR LIGHTS" - A.S.C.A.P. - 0:33
Composer: - Jimmy Kennedy-Hugh Williams
Publisher: - Chappell & Company Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – FS Take 1 – FS Take 2 – Breakdown – Tape Box 15
Recorded: - July 5, 1954
Released: - August 3, 2012
First appearance: - FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-1 mono
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-2-1 mono

01(2) - "HARBOR LIGHTS" - A.S.C.A.P. - 2:52
Composer: - Jimmy Kennedy-Hugh Williams
Publisher: - Chappell & Company Incorporated
Matrix number: - EPA3-2742 - Take 3 Master
Recorded: - July 5, 1954
Released: - January, 1976
First appearance: - RCA Victor (LP) 33rpm CPL1-1349 mono
Reissued: August 3 FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-2 mono

01(3) - "HARBOR LIGHTS" - A.S.C.A.P. - 2:37
Composer: - Jimmy Kennedy-Hugh Williams
Publisher: - Chappell & Company Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – Complete Take 4 – Tape Box 15
Listen as Take 3 on Golden Celebration
Recorded: - July 5, 1954
Released: - August 1984
First appearance: BMG Music (LP) 33rpm CPM6-5172 mono
Reissued: August 3 FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-3 mono

01(4) - "HARBOR LIGHTS" - A.S.C.A.P. - 1:22
Composer: - Jimmy Kennedy-Hugh Williams
Publisher: - Chappell & Company Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – FS Take 5 – LFS Take 6 – Tape Box 15
Recorded: - July 5, 1954
Released: - August 3, 2012
First appearance: - FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-4 mono
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-2-2 mono

01(5) - "HARBOR LIGHTS" - A.S.C.A.P. - 2:24
Composer: - Jimmy Kennedy-Hugh Williams
Publisher: - Chappell & Company Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – Complete Take 7 – Tape Box 15
Recorded: - July 5, 1954
Released: - August 3, 2012
First appearance: - FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-5 mono
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-2-2 mono

01(6) - "HARBOR LIGHTS" - A.S.C.A.P. - 0:25
Composer: - Jimmy Kennedy-Hugh Williams
Publisher: - Chappell & Company Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – LFS Take 8 – Breakdown – Tape Box 15
Recorded: - July 5, 1954
Released: - August 3, 2012
First appearance: - FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-6 mono
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-2-2 mono

Elvis Presley's version of "Harbor Lights" was inspired by Harry Owens and His Royal Hawaiians. The song contained guitar riffs similar to those used by Hank Garland, whose guitar style helped to develop a part of the early rock and roll sound. There were five cuts of "Harbor Lights" completed during this session. The first cut was an instrumental to calm Elvis Presley down and acquaint Scotty Moore and Bill Black with the musical direction that Sam Phillips wanted. Only two of the cuts of "Harbor Lights" were strong enough to consider for commercial release. Eventually, Elvis' two-minute and thirty-five-second version would appear on RCA's Elvis A Legendary Performer, Volume 2 in 1976. This cut featured a whistling bridge.

There was also an alternate cut of "Harbor Lights" with a soft guitar bridge. After listening to these versions, Ronald Smith concluded that Elvis Presley had even then crossed over into the pop market, a result of the fact that Sam Phillips recognized that Scotty Moore's guitar licks were a sophisticated mix of Chet Atkins' country guitar and Les Paul's electric city sound, a mix that was decidedly crossover.

"Harbor Lights" was written by Jimmy Kennedy and Hugh Williams (real name: Wilhelm "Will" Grosz) in 1937 and popularized in recordings that year by Frances Langford (Decca 1441) and Claude Thornhill and His Orchestra, with vocal by Jimmy Farrell (Vocalion 3595). The song was revived in 1950 by several artists, the most successful being Sammy Kaye, who had a number one recording (Columbia 38963). Over a million copies of sheet music were sold for "Harbor Lights" in 1950. The song was performed a record 29 times on "Your Hit Parade". "Harbor Lights" was used as the recurring theme song of the 1940 John Ford- directed movie "The Long Voyage Home", starring John Wayne. Elvis Presley recorded "Harbor Lights" on July 5, 1954 - his first commercial recording session. It was probably the first song put on tape. Sam Phillips of Sun Records considered the recording to be not worthy of release. In 1976 RCA released the master (Take 3) on the album "Elvis - A Legendary Performer Volume 2". In 1980, the National Enquirer an unidentified copy of Elvis' "Harbor Lights" to recording studios in Nashville and New York City. The recording was rejected by almost all of the companies?

Steve Sholes Sessions Notes

Scotch Magnetic Tape 
Master Tapes Acquired

Box 12
01 I'll Never Let You Go Take 1 F2WB-81161
02 I'll Never Let You Go Take 2
03 Satisfied Take 1 1:15
04 I'll Never Let You Go Take 3
05 I'll Never Let You Go Take 4
06 I'll Never Let You Go Take 5
07 I'll Never Let You Go Take 6

Box 13
01 I Love You Because Take 1 G2WB-1086 3:27
02 I Love You Because Take 2 3:28
03 I Love You Because Take 3 Breakdown
04 I Love You Because Take 4 3:23 V
05 I Love You Because Take 5 3:25
06 That's All Right Take 1 F2WB-8040 N.G. 1:52

Steve Sholes from RCA, mixing later two ferry good takes to one track, take 3 and take 5 (time 2:39). Mixingdate January 20, 1956 in the RCA studios in Nashville, Tennessee.

Box 14
01 Blue Moon Of Kentucky Take 1 F2WB-80412:02
02 Blue Moon Of Kentucky Take 2 2:02
03 Blue Moon Of Kentucky Take 3 Breakdown
04 Blue Moon Of Kentucky Take 4 Last Part N.G.

Box 15
01 Harbor Lights Take 1 Breakdown EPA3-2742
02 Harbor Lights Take 2 2:35
03 Harbor Lights Take 3 2:27
04 Harbor Lights Take 4 Breakdown
05 Harbor Lights Take 5 2:20 N.G.
06 Harbor Lights Take 6 Breakdown

The Ampex 350 Tape Recorder >

Elvis Presley remarked that he loved Eddie Fisher's pop version of "I Love You Because". The 1950 Fisher hit was one of Presley's favorites. Elvis Presley told Sam Phillips that he'd love to record it, but Sam Phillips initially rejected this suggestion because he wanted Elvis Presley to attempt an upbeat, rockabilly number. But Elvis Presley prevailed, persuading Phillips that it would be best to record a tune that he knew by heart.

Sam Phillips and Scotty Moore have both indicated that the Elvis' first recording session was a difficult one, primarily because of Presley's perfectionist nature.  Although he was not in a position to make many demands during this first session, Elvis Presley was not only critical of his own performance, but from the first moments in the studio he demanded excellence from Scotty Moore and Bill Black. There were amazed by Elvis' professional manner, which was quick and self-assured.

This tendency toward musical perfection was demonstrated on Elvis' "I Love You Because". Leon Payne, a blind composer who often appeared in concert with Bob Wills And The Texas Playboys, was too country for Elvis Presley, but Sam Phillips at first pressured Elvis Presley to record the tune in Payne's mould. It was  only after Elvis Presley pointed out that he could cut a Fisher-type version that the song was completed. After five different takes, however, Sam Phillips abandoned the tunes as commercially inviable. In 1956, Steve Sholes blended two of the cuts together into a master take, a strange mixture of Leon Payne's country version and Eddie Fisher's pop rendition. Elvis Presley told Eddie Bond that he preferred the Fisher version precisely because it was pop. "Elvis loved those pop songs and knew them by heart", Eddie Bond remembered. It is therefore surprising that Elvis Presley had difficulty recording the tune, which he had performed many time.

"I'm not for sure, "I Love You Because" one of the first things", recalled Scotty Moore, "I know for sure was … there was two or three there. "Harbor Light", I think, was one. And you can tell there's no style or anything - he's just groping in the dark, practically... And then of course the story on "That's All Right". "I Love You Because" was written and recorded by blind performer Leon Payne in late 1949. Elvis recorded "I Love You Because" during his first commercial recording session at Sun Records. Apparently, five takes were taped by Sam Phillips, but none deemed worthy of commercial release. However, after Elvis had skyrocketed to fame in 1956, RCA released a single of "I Love You Because" in September 1956, using previously appeased on the "Elvis Presley" LP. Take number 2 surfaced in 1974 on the LP "Elvis - A Legendary Performer Volume 1", and all five takes appeared on the 1987 LP "The Complete Sun Sessions". Before the release of "The Complete Sun Sessions", it had been understood that the master was a splice of takes number 2 and number 4 and that take number 1 appeared on "Elvis - A Legendary Performer Volume 1". Elvis is known to have sung "I Love You Because" on the Louisiana Hayride" in 1954 and 1955. A historical note: After the five takes of "I Love You Because", Elvis, Scotty and Bill started cutting up with "That's All Right" during a break.

02(1) - "I LOVE YOU BECAUSE" - B.M.I. - 0:23
Composer: - Leon Payne
Publisher: - Bourne Music Incorporated - Acuff Rose Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None – FS Take 1 – Tape Box 13 – Guitar Intro
Recorded: - July 5, 1954
Released: – August 3, 2012
First appearance: – FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-7 mono
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-2-3 mono

02(2) - "I LOVE YOU BECAUSE" - B.M.I. - 3:27
Composer: - Leon Payne
Publisher: - Bourne Music Incorporated - Acuff Rose Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None – Complete Take 2 – Tape Box 13 – Guitar Intro
Recorded: - July 5, 1954
Released: – June 1987
First appearance: - RCA BMG (LP) 33rpm 6414-1-R mono
Reissued: - August 3, 2012 FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-8 mono

02(3) - "I LOVE YOU BECAUSE" - B.M.I. - 3:35
Composer: - Leon Payne
Publisher: - Bourne Music Incorporated - Acuff Rose Music Publishing
Matrix number: - SPA1-4278 – Complete Take 3 – Master – Tape Box 13 – Whistling Intro
Used for Spliced RCA Master
Recorded: - July 5, 1954
Released: – June 1987
First appearance: - RCA BMG (LP) 33rpm 6414-1-R mono
Reissued: - August 3, 2012 FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-9 mono

02(4) - "I LOVE YOU BECAUSE" - B.M.I. - 0:40
Composer: - Leon Payne
Publisher: - Bourne Music Incorporated - Acuff Rose Music Publishing
Matrix number: - SPA1-4279 – FS Take 4 – Master – Tape Box 13 – Whistling Intro
Recorded: - July 5, 1954
Released: – June 1987
First appearance: - RCA BMG (LP) 33rpm 6414-1-R mono
Reissued: - August 3, 2012 FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-10 mono

02(5) - "I LOVE YOU BECAUSE" - B.M.I. - 3:27
Composer: - Leon Payne
Publisher: - Bourne Music Incorporated - Acuff Rose Music Publishing
Matrix number: - SPA1-4280 – Complete Take 5 – Master – Tape Box 13 – Whistling Intro
Used for Spliced RCA Master
Recorded: - July 5, 1954
Released: – June 1987
First appearance: - RCA BMG (LP) 33rpm 6414-1-R mono
Reissued: - August 3, 2012 FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-10 mono

02(6) - "I LOVE YOU BECAUSE" - B.M.I. - 2:42
Composer: - Leon Payne
Publisher: - Bourne Music Incorporated - Acuff Rose Music Publishing
Matrix number: - G2WB-1086 – Tape Box 13
Master Spliced From Take 3 and Take 5 and omits the spoken part.
Recorded: - July 5, 1954
Released: March 23, 1956
First appearance: - RCA Victor (LP) 33rpm LPM-1254 mono
Reissued: - August 3, 2012 FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-1-6 mono

The next song Elvis Presley tried was the one that was to thrust him into regional musical prominence, and turn Elvis Presley's very first recording session into a hit-producing one. Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right" was originally recorded on September 6, 1947, for RCA Victor's Chicago-based Bluebird label. Elvis Presley, again, had some difficulty recording Crudup's tune. Whereas most of the songs he sang tended to follow the same phrasing as the original performer or demo singer, his interpretation of Crudup's country blues song bore little relationship to the original. So, it was a moment of great creativity as Elvis Presley interpreted "That's All Right" in his own unique manner.

The trouble with the song developed as a result of the fact that Sam Phillips offered Elvis Presley more freedom than he would. At this stage, although practiced and professional when it came to songs for which he had an original basis - a "model", as it were - Elvis Presley wasn't sure how to fully use a situation which gave him total freedom and creativity. As a result of this inexperience, Elvis' vocal on the first take of "That's All Right" was laboured. It was not until later, when they were all tired and had taken a short break during which Elvis Presley began clowning around, that he broke into a faster version of the song that electrified Sam Phillips, who in turn hollered for Scotty Moore and Bill Black to join in.

03(1) - "THAT'S ALL RIGHT" - B.M.I. - 0:20
Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Wabash Music Corporation - Crudup Music
Matrix number: – OPA1-4849 – FS Take 1 – FS Take 2 – Tape Box 13 - Breakdown
Recorded: - July 5, 1954
Released: - October 1984
First appearance: - RCA (LP) 33rpm CPM6-5172-1 mono
Reissued: - August 3, 2012 FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-12 mono

03(2) - "THAT'S ALL RIGHT" - B.M.I. - 1:57
Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Wabash Music Corporation - Crudup Music
Matrix number: – OPA1-4849 – Complete Take 3 – Tape Box 13 - Breakdown
Recorded: - July 5, 1954
Released: - October 1984
First appearance: - RCA (LP) 33rpm CPM6-5172-1 mono
Reissued: - August 3, 2012 FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-13 mono

"All of a sudden", said Scotty Moore, "Elvis just started singing this song, jumping around and acting the fool, and then Bill picked up his bass, and he started acting the fool, too, and I started playing with them. Sam, I think, had the door to the control booth open, I don't know, he was either editing some tape, or doing something, and he stuck his head out and said, 'What are you doing? And we said, 'We don't know'. 'Well back up', he said, 'try to find a place to start, and do it again". "So we stopped, we talked a few minutes about what we were doin', I tried to figure some kind of turnaround or instrumental part on it, we ran through it probably two or three times, and that was it".

Steve Sholes Session Notes

Box 13
That's All Right Take 1 Breakdown
That's All Right Take 2 Breakdown
That's All Right Take 3 Complete Slow Alternate Take
That's All Right Take 4 Complete

03(3) - "THAT'S ALL RIGHT" - B.M.I. - 1:55
Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Wabash Music Corporation- Crudup Music
Matrix number: - U-128 - Single Master Take 3 – Tape Box 13 - F2WB-8040
Recorded: - July 5, 1954
The lyrics "my mama she done told me, papa done told me too" came from
Arthur Crudup's old blues song "Mean Old Frisco Blues", recorded April 15, 1942.
Released: - July 19, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 209-A mono
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-3-11 mono

When Elvis Presley transferred to RCA, the company received a tape referred to in Steve Shole's notes as "That's All Right, plus two other selections"; it is unclear whether these "other selections" were Presley recordings.

Original Scotch Magnetic tape box of ''I Love You Because'' and ''That's All Right''. >

Delighted with Elvis Presley's uptempo performance of "That's All Right", Sam Phillips suggested they continue the session. Two of the takes of "That's All Right" were strong enough to release into the growing rock and roll market; now Phillips had to come up with a b-side for Presley's record. This song had to be a country one, Sam Phillips reasoned, to carry Presley's music in the Memphis market. A quick decision was needed, and Sam Phillips urged Elvis Presley to consider recording a song by a well-known country artist. 

As a result, Bill Monroe's 1946 country hit "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was selected as the ideal companion tune to "That's All Right". Elvis Presley didn't feel comfortable recording the song, however, so he asked Sam Phillips to wait until the next recording session to do it.

One in particular, "I Don't Know It", became the model for Elvis Presley's version of "That's All Right". Original recorded in Chicago on April 9, 1947, "I Don't Know It" was the first song Crudup recorded after "That's All Right". Elvis Presley simply copied the arrangement and musical direction of "I Don't Know It". It was Crudup's backup musicians, Ranson Knowling on bass and either Jump Jackson or Judge Riley on drums, who most caught Elvis Presley's attention.

"The first time Sam played it back, we couldn't believe it was us", said Bill Black. "It just sounded sort of raw and ragged", said Scotty Moore. "We thought it was exciting, but what was it? It was just so completely different. But it just really flipped Sam, he felt it really had something. We just sort of shook our heads and  said, 'Well, that's fine, but good God, they'll run us out of town!".

Elvis Presley's first two singles featured only "Scotty and Bill" (as labels read), but later Sun recordings often included drums (on the 'country' sides more frequently than on the 'rhythm' sides, interestingly enough. The was Johnny Bernero, leader of a local show band (see Malcolm Yelvington/Johnny Bernero, Memphis Rockin' Country, P-Vine 330, Japan), though forget the title for Bernero's side; Bernero soon vanished into oblivion, where he is no doubt trading tales of what might have been with Jimmy Nicol, who replaced an ailing Ringo Starr when the Beatles toured Australia in 1964.

04* - "TIGER MAN" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Joe Hill Lewis-Sam Burns (pseudonym Sam Phillips)
Burns is the maiden name of Phillips' wife, Becky (Rebecca)
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Probably Tape Lost
Recorded: - July 5, 1954
Released: - Sun Unissued

(*) In 1968 when Elvis Presley filmed his comeback 68' TV Special ''Elvis'', he revived ''Tiger Man'', replicating Joe Hill Louis's guitar licks as closely he could. It was dropped from the show and the accompanying LP, but soon appeared on a budget LP. The likeliest scenario is that Phillips had given to to him in 1954 or 1955, suggesting that he might like to cover it for Sun. Introducing the song on-stage in 1970, Elvis said, ''This was my second record, 'cept no one got to hear it''. Joe Hill Louis would have benefitted if Elvis had revived it in 1954 (he might even have made enough for the tetanus shot that would have saved his life), but he wasn't around to collect his share of the 1970s bounty.

"Maybe it was something we might have run through a few times.. because that was from Rufus", recalled Scotty Moore. "That's where Elvis got it from. We didn't record it - if we did then it got erased. I guess Sam didn't want to spend that money on tape".  Eventually, though, they came up with a song even more improbable than "That's All Right", and just as promising.

Composer: - Jimmy Wakely
Publisher: - Elvis Presley Music Incorporated - Sundance Music
Matrix number: - None - Tape Box 12
Recorded: - July 5, 1954 - Probably Uncompleted Alternate Take
Released: - Sun Unissued

The July 5 session continued for yet another two hours, however. There were two attempts to record "I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')". Between these two cuts Elvis Presley sang a minute-long version of the gospel song "Satisfied". By this time, though, Elvis Presley was tired, and these final cuts were also laboured ones. Sam Phillips set up another recording session for the following night to cut the songs that Elvis Presley hadn't completed.

No permanent written record of this sessions exists. Not only did Sam Phillips not keep precise records, but he was very casual about dating his sessions. When Sam Phillips collected the evening's recordings, he placed them in Scotch magnetic tape boxes. There were no numbers on the boxes, and they were simply stacked next to the production board. After Sam Phillips shipped the tapes to RCA in November 1955, it was Steve Sholes who numbered the boxes; the songs from this session are probably from boxes 2, 12, 13, and 15.

06* - "SATISFIED" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Martha Lou Carson
Publisher: - Copyright Martha Carson
Matrix number: - None - Tape Box 12 -  Probably Tape Lost
Recorded: - July 5, 1954 - Fragmented - Probably Uncompleted Rehearsal Version
Released: - Sun Unissued

Composer: - Jimmy Wakely
Publisher: - Elvis Presley Music Incorporated - Sundance Music
Matrix number: - None - Tape Box 12 -  Probably Tape Lost
Recorded: - July 5, 1954 - Probably Uncompleted Rehearsal Version
Released: - Sun Unissued

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)


ARTHUR WILLIAM CRUDUP - Also known as "Big Boy, Percy Lee Crudup, Art Crudux, Arthur  Crump, Elmer James, but The Father of Rock And Roll was a Delta blues musician, Crudup  recorded for RCA's Bluebird label. In 1944, "Rock Me Mama" set the standard for postwar  blues tunes. It started back on the farm where he was born on August 24, 1905, about a  mile from Forest, Scott County, Mississippi. His mother, Minnie Crudup was a musician.  Crudup was interested in music at the early age and sang in gospel choirs and gospel  quartets at the age of 10.

Crudup grew up there with his mother parents. Arthur Crudup, his mother, and sister  moved to Indianapolis in 1916. When his mother became ill shortly thereafter, he left  school to go to work.

At thirteen he was dumping molds in a foundry; at fourteen he was  carrying iron. In 1916 the family moved back to Forest to around 1926, and Crudup started  farming and got married. Then he and his wife separated and he began in 1926 to circa  1935 "running up and down the highway". Crudup hit the juke houses in the little  Mississippi towns: Belzoni, Drew, Indianola, Sunflower, Yazoo City. Arthur Crudup heard  musicians like Charlie Patton, drank moonshine whisky for thirty-five cents a half-pint, ate  barbecue sandwiches, and danced till daylight. In 1939, Crudup worked on local parties in  the Clarksdale area.

Later Crudup packet his clothes in a cardboard box and caught a midnight train to Chicago  to join his girl friend. He joined the Harmonizing Four Gospel Quartet and worked at  churches in Chicago, Illinois in 1940. Frequently, Crudup worked outside music with the  street and house party gigs in Chicago from 1940.

Crudup was on the corner at Forty-third and Hawthorne when he first met Lester Melrose,  who recruited talent for Vocalion, Brunswick-Balke-Collender's race recording label, as well  as for RCA Victor's Bluebird. Three days later, he recorded his first four sides, "That's All  Right" (Victor 20-2205, September 6, 1946), "Who Been Fooling You", "Death Valley Blues", and "If I'd Git Lucky" with Judge Riley on drums and Ranson Knowling on bass, in 1940 after  his discovery by talent hunter Lester Melrose on a Chicago street corner, Crudup worked at  various times in Chicago as a thirty-six-old delivery boy, as a tire capper at Firestone, and as  a night cook in a restaurant on the tough South Side in Chicago.

Arthur Crudup frequently returned to work outside music in Forest, Mississippi from circa  1942; recorded US Armed Forces Radio Service transcription (AFRS) in early 1940s. In  1945, Arthur Crudup recorded for the Bluebird label in Chicago, Illinois and than returned  to Mississippi, went back to his wife, and started farming again, making only occasional  trips to record with Melrose in Chicago. Worked at the Indiana Theater in Chicago in 1945  and recorded for the Victor label in Chicago, Illinois. Crudup moved his family back to  Forest. He worked for the city, farmed some, played Saturday night dances - anything to  take care of his wife and 2 children.

Arthur Crudup also appeared on the King Biscuit Time for KFFA-radio in Helena, Arkansas  in the mid-1940s and frequently worked outside music with local gigs with Sonny Boy  Williamson II (Alex Miller) and worked with Elmore James in small juke joints in the South  in the late 1940s. In 1952 Arthur Crudup recorded for the Victor label in Atlanta, Georgia  and recorded for the Trumpet/Checker labels in Jackson, Mississippi in 1952; for the  Champion label in Jackson, Mississippi in 1952; and for the Ace label in Jackson,  Mississippi in 1953; recorded for the Groove/Victor labels in Atlanta in 1953-1954.

In 1954 That's All Right" became the first of the blue-suede-blues hits for Elvis Presley,  who later came out with Crudup's "My Baby Left Me" (Victor 130-284, November 8, 1950),  and "So Glad You're Mine", accompanying himself on guitar with Armand Jackson on drums  (Victor 20-1949, February 22, 1946) were Crudup tunes that Elvis Presley covered. Crudup  himself never enjoyed the fruits of his success. In addition to his real name, Crudup  recorded under the names Perry Lee Crudup and Elmer James. It was during this time that  rock and roll caught hold, and as Crudup heard Presley's version of "That's All Right" over  and over on radio and jukebox, he began to wonder about royalties. He wrote Melrose but  never was satisfied with the answers he received.

"Elton John, he made my numbers and they's paying that money right now. That money's  just piling up there and they ain't giving it to me and so there you are. People ask me  about Elvis Presley, how do I feel about him. Ought to be mad with him, they say. For  what? I said I don't even know the man. I said I know he's from Memphis, Tennessee, all  right enough, but I've never met him. I didn't give him the songs. And he didn't steal them  because I didn't write them on paper. I realize that man have paid his royalty statement  that I was supposed to get whether I got it or not. All of this here money that I done made  and you tell me, "It's yours, Arthur, you made it, it's yours", but it's hung up there and they  won't pay me off".

In fact, each of those Crudup's songs is so similar to Elvis' recorded version that there is no  doubt he mimicked Crudup's style. In Crudup's music there is a blues direction that is  infused with a hillbilly tone. The songs that Crudup recorded for RCA from 1941 until he  left the label in 1954 are significant influences upon Elvis Presley. In 1955, Crudup moved  to Florida where he drove a tractor one season and then bought a truck to haul his family  and some of the other itinerant workers to Birdnest, Virginia, near Exmore, where they  harvested potatoes, beans, and cucumbers. Until his health failed, they continued to  alternate between Florida and Virginia, six months each place, following the work.

In 1959, Arthur Crudup to work mostly outside the music with occasional gigs with the  Malibus Family group at local country dances and he recorded for the Fire label in  Nashville, Tennessee circa 1959.

In 1960, Crudup had little to do with the music business until Dick Waterman - a  Massachusetts attorney, promoter, and friend of many blues men - talked him into taking a  booking at the University of Chicago in 1968. Crudup worked at the 50 Grand Club in Detroit,  Michigan in 1965; at the Ark in Boston, Massachusetts in 1966; the Electric Circus in New  York City, New York in 1966.

After Waterman coaxed him back to the blues scene, Crudup traveled back and forth  across the United States as well as to Australia and to Europe; performed at the Avant  Garde Coffeehouse in Milwaukee in Wisconsin in 1967; at Central Park Music Festival in  New York City in 1967; the Philadelphia Folk Festival in

Schwenksville, Pennsylvania in 1967; recorded for Delmark label in Chicago, Illinois in 1967,  appeared on the Ann Arbor Blues Festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1969; appeared at the  University of California in Berkeley, California in 1969; performed at the Ash Groove in Los  Angeles, California in 1969; toured in England on club, concert and TV dates in 1970-1971;  appeared on the Late Night Line-Up TV show on BBC-2-TV in London, England in 1970;  recorded for Liberty Records in London, England in 1970.

In 1970, Arthur Crudup appeared at the Festival Of American Folklife in Washington, D.C.;  and toured with the American Blues Festival and working on concert dates through  Australia in 1972; appeared in the French film "Out Of The Blacks Into The Blues" in 1972;  worked at the University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont in 1972; at the Siena College in  Memphis, Tennessee in 1972, appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival, Philharmonic Hall in  New York City, New York in 1973 (portion released on the Buddah label); at the Mariposa  Folk Festival in Toronto, Canada in 1973.

In later years Elvis Presley financed Crudup's recording sessions with Fire Records,  though the two never did meet. In 1973 a TV special called "Arthur Crudup: Born In The  Blues" aired on WETA-TV in Washington, D,C. (also released as film).

In 1974, Arthur Crudup toured with Bonnie Raitt and working on concert dates through  Virginia and worked at the Hunter College in New York City, New York in 1974. But touring  took its toll. The death of Melrose complicated Waterman's efforts to recover Crudup's  royalties.  Arthur Crudup died of a stroke at the Northhampton Accomac Memorial Hospital in  Nassawadox, Virginia, on March 28, 1974, still unpaid but not unsung. Arthur Crudup is  buried at the Bethel Baptist Cemetery in Franktown, Virginia. Arthur William Crudup is  influenced by Bill Broonzy and Papa Floyd. He influenced artists like Ray Charles, Eddie  Kirkland, J.B. Lenoir, Elvis Presley, Doc Ross, James "Son" Thomas. As a singer he was  superb and many of his songs have become classics, he was one of the most popular blues  singers of the 1940s and one of the finest blues songwriters ever. "He bridged the space  between", say Tommy McGlenman and Lightnin' Hopkins.

FIRE RECORDS - New York-based record label for which Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup recorded  while being financed by Elvis Presley in the 1960s. Elvis Presley had always been a Crudup  fan and was aware that Crudup received little of the royalties that were rightfully due him  as both a composer and recording artist. The two records that Crudup recorded for the  label were "Rock Me Mama"/"Mean Ole Frisco Blues" (Fire 1501) and "Katie Mae"/"Dig Myself  A Hole" (Fire 1502). Arthur Crudup also recorded his classics "So Glad You're Mine" and  "That's All Right" (Fire 103). 

Fire Records was one of several labels (Fury, Holiday, Everest,  Red Robin, Fling, Vest, and Enjoy) founded by Bobby and Danny Robinson. Buster Brown  and Bobby Marchan (previously a member of Huey (piano) "Smith Clowns") recorded for  the label. Don Gardner and Dee Dee Ford recorded "TCB" (Taking Care Of Business) on the  Fire Records label (Fire 517).

Joe Hill Louis with the sons of Sam Phillips, Jerry and Knox (front). >

JOE HILL LOUIS - Also known as "Chicago Sunny Boy", "Johnny Lewis", "Little Joe", Joe was  born Lester (or possibly Leslie) Hill, September 23, 1921, one of four children (3 boys and a  girl) in Froggy Bottom, out from Grant's Corner, near where Whitehaven, Tennessee is now,  just a few miles south of Memphis, and lived there until about a year after his mother died. 

His father was Robert Hill and his mother was Mary Wilson.  Joe Hill Louis learned some harmonica and the guitar from Will Shade in his youth in the  early 1930s.  At the age of 14, after frequent beating by his step-mother, he ran away from  home to work outside the music with frequent work in streets and dives in Robinsonville,  Mississippi area from circa 1935, and fell in with Billy and Drew Canale, the younger  members of a well-to-do Memphis family. The Canales cook welcomed the responsibility of  looking after the young lad and he continued to live with and work for the Canales in one  household position after another for the rest of his short life.

Early in his lifelong stay with the Canales he was put up to fighting a local ruffian named  "Prince Henry" and came out the better, a victory which inspired the Canale boys to name  him after the then heavyweight champ. Henry the moniker which was to serve him well  and stick with him to the end.

Joe Hill Louis' natural musical aptitude was first manifest itself upon the jew's harp, which  eventually was replaced by the harmonica, his primary and dominant instrument. The  guitar and drums were added in the course of time but not without a great deal of earshattering  displeasure from the Canales and their friends. At first, of course, his  manipulation of the three was very uncoordinated, but he eventually got it all together to  the amazement of his friends and the consternation of would-be accompanying guitarists  and drummers. Rufus Thomas, the well-known record star and disc jockey reported that  Joe was envied by many local musicians for his ability to earn the same amount of money  that it would have taken three or four other musicians of singular talents to make. Joe  could make all that money by himself; he didn't need anyone else.

Joe Hill Louis worked outside the music at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee in  the late 1930s and frequently worked with Eddie Taylor, Willie Borum, Will Shade,  Lockhart Hill and others in gambling houses, the streets in Memphis and West Memphis,  Arkansas area and frequently worked as one man band in Memphis, Tennessee. He also  frequently hoboed through the Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi on working in dances,  suppers, ballgame intermissions in the late 1940s into the early 1950s. He recorded for  Columbia Records in New York City in 1949.

Through his appearances on street corners and in Handy Park in Memphis and in juke  joints and roadhouses in the surrounding countryside, Joe Hill Louis became a popular  entertainer in the mod-south area in the late 1940s and it eventually opened the doors of  WDIA-Memphis, the local black radio station, for a 15-minute show for a patent medicine  called Pepti-con (from B.B. King) on which he was knowns as the Pep-ti-con Boy. This  appellation was later replaced by "The Be-Bop Boy", as indicated by the accompanying  photograph.

Though, by an informal union, Joe is reported to have a son named Leslie Hill who was living  in Chicago, Joe Hill Louis married his only wife, the former Dorothy "Ruthy" Mae Pearson, on  July 25, 1952 and the following year their son was born. Named Robert, he later took Louis  as a surname for himself and took name "Joe Louis" in honour of the boxing champion. His  brother was Lockhart Hill and was also an great musician. Despite Dorothy's statement that  they lived together until Joe died, the marriage may not have been one of constant  satisfaction for Joe, for he was soon back with the Canales, who always had a need for a  chauffeur or a houseboy, or a bartender at their frequent gatherings. He also worked  intermittently for Drew in his vending machine business, packing pennies in cigarette  packages by day and playing music in the countryside juke joints and roadhouses at night.

Drew Canale, who was to become Tennessee state senator from Shelby County (Memphis  and its environs) (1966-1970), was dabbling in recording in the late 1940s and claimed to  have been the first to recorded Joe, a session which, if ever issued, has yet to be  identified. Surprisingly, it was Columbia Records, that was the first to release recordings  by Joe Hill Louis.

Over a period of more than three years, between March 31, 1952 and September 9, 1953,  Joe Hill Louis recorded a number of sessions for Sam Phillips, alone and with  accompanists, which reached release on Modern and Checker as well as on his own labels  and Sun Records. He was the first artist recorded on Sam Phillips and Dewey Phillips for  Phillips Record label, with "Gotta Let You Go" (Phillips 9001). On November 17, 1952,  Louis recorded the original version of "Tiger man", which he and Sam Burns (Sam Phillips'  wife) had written and which Elvis Presley would recorded in 1968 for his '68 Comeback  special.

Sometimes during the mid-1950s, Drew Canale produced a rather curious solitary release  on his own Vendor Record label. The vocal was credited to Les Vendor Keyboards and  contained a spoken introduction by Canale, who later confirmed that the artist was indeed  Joe Hill Louis. Made exclusively for use in Canale's own jukebox and vending machine  distribution business, no more than a couple of copies are known to exist today. It was  reissued from the original stampers for collectors in the mid-1970s on the Mimisa label.

Canale recorded him again, however, but by that time, Joe Hill's recording career included  sessions for Meteor, Big Town, Ace, Rockin' and House Of Sound and among them are some  remarkable records, the Rockin' sides being especially notable. However, this later session  for Canale is believed to be Joe Hill Louis' last. A number of attempts, different  approaches, were made on a single tune, ironically entitled "Late Date" and though most  of the session still exists on tape, it remains unissued to this day.

Joe Hill Louis worked for the Blue Light Club in Memphis; the Brown Jug in West Memphis,  Arkansas; the Tennessee House in West Memphis, Arkansas in the early 1950s; recorded in  1950 for Modern Records; recorded for the Rockin' label in Memphis, Tennessee in 1952;  recorded with Walter Horton for the Checker label in Chicago in 1952; recorded with Billy  Love for the Sun label in Memphis; recorded for Meteor label in Chicago in 1953; recorded  for Bigtown label in Memphis in 1954; recorded for the Ace label in West Memphis,  Arkansas circa 1954; recorded for the House Of Sound label in Memphis in 1957.

Joe Hill Louis had a great sense of humor and was definitely a ladies' man. He had a  different woman for every day in the week. His Sunday gal was Dorothy Houston who said  Joe would take her to nice quiet places: church, nice restaurants, quiet bars. He wouldn't  take her to gigs as he said they were rough places where the men didn't respect the  woman. Perhaps for one of these 'dailies' Joe was doing yardwork when he badly cut his  thumb and it became infected with fertilizer. Eventually he contracted tetanus infection  with which he collapsed a few days later in his car on Beale Street, beyond help. He was  taken to John Gaston Hospital in Memphis, where he died August 5, 1957, loved by his  friends and fellow musicians, mourned by many woman, and admired much too belatedly  by the music public around the world. Joe Hill Louis is buried at the Ford Chapel Cemetery  in West Junction, Tennessee. From the late forties until 1956, Joe Hill Louis was among  the most popular figures in Memphis and the rural areas of Tennessee, Arkansas and  Mississippi.


Lamar Fike first on meeting with Elvis Presley at the Sun studio this day. "I first met Elvis in  1954", recalled Lamar Fike. "Sam Phillips introduced us. 

I was learning how to be a disc  jockey, Sam was teaching me. Sam was an engineer, and I'd hang around him, trying to pick  up whatever crumbs of knowledge he'd share''. 

''Then one night, Sam took me over to the Sun  studio and said, 'I want you to hear something'. He played the demo that Elvis had made and  asked me what I thought. Now I was a little green and I was kinda hedging my bets. 

'I don't know for sure', I said, 'but to me it sounds really good'. And Sam said I should come  over the afternoon and meet him. Which I did. They were working on "That's All Right". "It  was Elvis' first professional recording session". "I watched all afternoon. And Sam asked me  again what I thought. 'God almighty, he's different looking', I said. 'I like him. He's exciting.  He sounds good'. Now, I didn't know a lot about the record business at the time, my opinion  didn't mean diddley, but I sure liked what I heard. Simple as that".


Elvis Presley arrived at the Sun studio on Tuesday, July 6, at about seven-thirty in the  evening. Already visibly nervous then he walked in, Elvis Presley was then hit with Sam  Phillips' announcement that it was his intention to release Presley's record within the next  few days. Sam Phillips looked over at Elvis and didn't like the unsettling twitch exhibited  by his new singer. "That's All Right" was a sure hit, Sam Phillips bellowed, and he told Elvis  Presley he couldn't wait to promote the record.

Ronald Smith, who worked as a sometime  session guitarist for Sun, remembers the excitement over the proposed Presley release. "I  think Sam knew that he had something good", Ronald Smith recalled. "Some of the other  boys weren't so kind toward Elvis".




"We were all below-average musicians", says Scotty Moore. "Elvis didn't know all that many chords, but he had a great sense of rhythm. Sam used that. I don't think he did it consciously for effect. He treated Elvis as another instrument and he kept his voice closer to the music than was the norm at that time. If you listen to the records that were being played then, the singer's voice was way out front. If he left Elvis' voice way out front, it would have sounded empty because we only had three instruments. Elvis had great vocal control. He could do just about anything he wanted to. Sam mixed his voice closer to the music like it was an instrument".

Time for an other take of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", which turned out to be only oneminute and fifty-nine-second version. In Elvis' hand, high lonesome with ants in its pants, however, it was this time turned into a strong rockabilly song, "country" enough for Phillips once on tape, and the perfect companion piece for the flip side of "That's All Right". "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was completed in four takes, with Sam Phillips using a spoken bridge in one version. There was one breakdown, and one partially recorded version, leaving two complete takes that Sam Phillips listened to before deciding that the rockabilly "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" provided an excellent b-side.

01 - "BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY" - B.M.I. - 2:02
Composer: - Bill Monroe
Publisher: - Unpublished
Matrix number: - None - Complete Take 1 - Tape Box 14
Recorded: - July 6(7), 1954
Released: - Sun Unissued - Probably Lost

01(2) - "BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY" - B.M.I. - 2:02
Composer: - Bill Monroe
Publisher: - Unpublished
Matrix number: - None - Complete Take 2 - Tape Box 14
Recorded: - July 6(7), 1954
Released: - Sun Unissued - Probably Lost

01(3) - "DIALOGUE" - B.M.I. - 0:20
Matrix number: - None - Tape Box 14
Recorded: - July 6(7), 1954 ''Too must fastly....''.
Released: - Sun Unissued

There was still the problem of selecting an acceptable song for the b-side of "That's All Right". Sam Phillips believed that "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was the right tune for the country record buyer, especially since "That's All  Right" was perfect for the hillbilly, teen, and blues markets. Sam Phillips reasoned that a country song was necessary for the b-side in order to broadly distribute and promote the record. As the July 6 session began, however, problems developed during the recording of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky". The first take of Bill Monroe's song only a minute long. Elvis' slow, laboured vocal was out of sync with the musical accompaniment. Surprisingly, at the conclusion of the short take of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", Sam Phillips hollered; "That's fine, hell that's different, that's a pop song, nearly 'bout". Laughter followed and Sam began another song.

01(4) - "BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY" - B.M.I. - 1:05
Composer: - Bill Monroe
Publisher: - Peer International Music - Southern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - OPA1-4194 - LFS Take 3 - Tape Box 14
The recording engineer voice on this track is by of Sam Phillips.
The take is first released on the bootleg LP "Good Rocking Tonight",
Bopcat Records 33rpm LP 100 (1974), inclusive dialogue.
After the slow version, Sam Phillips could be heard to remark
"Fine, man! Hell, that's different. That's a pop song now, nearly ....''.
Recorded: - July 6(7), 1954
Released: - October 1984
First appearance: - RCA Victor (LP) 33rpm CPM6-5172 mono
Reissued: – August 3, 2012 FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-15 mono

"Blue Moon Of Kentucky" evolved from a slow, bluesy version in 4/4 time with tentative instrumentation and a rather ornate vocal into a highspirited declaration of exuberant self-discovery, driven by Elvis Presley's rhythm guitar and a propulsive mix of Scotty Moore's chording riffs and single string filigree. For the first time Sam Phillips made extensive use of what he had come to call slapback, a kind of homemade echo device that was greated by running the original recording signal through a second Ampex recorder and thereby achieving  an almost sibilant phased effect. This undoubtedly added not only to the presence but to the excitement of the recording, and, of course, echo had the capacity of covering up a multitude of sins.

"I do not remember how many days, night "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" it was done at night - after that, 'cause we had the one side then we had to start lookin' and goin' through other songs tryin' to find domethin' that we could adapt, somethin' somilar to...", recalled Scotty Moore. "I mean, we still didn't consider 'well, that's a style, that's what we gotta do', we just had to find sometin' similar. And this time Bill was the one. Again it was on a break, and Bill just started slappin' the bass and singin' and mocking Bill Monroe - more or less singin' in a high falsetto voice... and Elvis joined in with him. So basically the same thing happened on both of those tunes".

"We didn't know we were creating a sound. When we heard it played back it just sounded sorta raw and ragged, really - it didn't have much polish to it. But it felt good".

Steve Sholes Session Notes

Box 14
1. Blue Moon Of Kentucky (2:02) F2WB-8041
2. Blue Moon Of Kentucky (2:02) F2WB-8041
3. Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Breakdown) F2WB-8041 
4. Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Last Part N.G.) F2WB-8041

01(5) - "BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY" - B.M.I. - 2:02
Composer: - Bill Monroe
Publisher: - Peer International Music - Southern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - U-129 SUN - Master Take 4 - Tape Box 14 - F2WB-8041-NA
Recorded: - July 6(7), 1954
Released: - July 19, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single releases SUN 209-B mono
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-3-12 mono

Acetate slow version of ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''. >

This Alternate Take of ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', as it was first listed on the Dutch  bootleg LP "Good Rocking Tonight",  Bopcat Records LP 100, 1974,  was recorded    after two upbeat, new renderings of the Bill Monroe classic by Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black.    By Scotty's recollection of the recording of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" in the book ''Blue Moon Boys - The    Story of Elvis Presley's Band'', "We all of us knew we needed something... and things seemed hopeless after    a while. Bill is the one who came up with 'Blue Moon Of Kentucky''.

''We're taking a little break and he starts    beating on the bass and singing ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', mocking Bill Monroe, singing the high falsetto  voice. Elvis joins in with him, starts playing and singing along with him''.

They had discovered something they wanted to hold onto with the previous night's rendition of "That's All  Right'', but the first couple of songs they tried weren't clicking. After several takes of this new version of  "Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', they played the version on this acetate, to which producer Sam Phillips  exclaimed, "That's fine, man. Hell that's different - that's a pop song now, nearly 'bout''! And was it ever.  "That's All Right" reaps most of the historical references for those fateful July days in 1954, but "Blue Moon  of Kentucky" (its B-side) was most likely played on the radio that same first night, was every bit the local hit  record itself, and certainly deserves its place right beside "That's All Right" in the list of songs that launched  Elvis on his path to legendary status

If you don't think Elvis Presley's expropriation of country standards like this was as audacious as his blues reworkings, you haven't grasped the barricades the Nashville establishment can throw in the way of change to this very day.  With its gutbucket bass and rocketing guitar solos and that relentless rattling - probably Elvis Presley banging on the body of his guitar "like it was the lid off a garbage can", as he once described it - "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" radically recasts one of the most sacrosanct numbers in all bluegrass. 

And bluegrass, though actually the product of a synthesis that Bill Monroe pioneered with as much calculation as Sam Phillips did rockabilly, has such ancient roots that it is regarded in country circles as the untouchable or music. No wonder Nashville had to fight him off.

The moment Elvis broke through, the die was cast and in fact, the country market suffered far more in the face of white rock's onslaught than the rhythm and blues market ever did. Great country was being made in 1954, but to admit Elvis to the Country and Western charts was an acknowledgment that there was an essential vitality missing from all of it. Sure as the governor of Mississippi had to bar that schoolhouse door, country had to hold off the facts (and they're the same facts) as long as it could.

After Phillips had both sides of Elvis' first single on tape, he made a few demos and distributed them to Dewey Phillips of WHBQ, Dick "Uncle Richard" Stuart of WMPS radio and Sleepy-Eyed John Lepley of radio station WHHM. Its a tossup as to who first played "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" on the air. But it was probably Uncle Richard. In any case, the record was released on July 19. It did not chart nationally, but by September,"Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was the number one record in Memphis, Tennessee. Fewer than 20,000 copies were sold. Elvis sang the song on his only appearance on the "Grand Ole Opry" on October 2, 1956, as well as during his first appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride" on October 16, 1954. Bill Monroe's original version of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was released after Elvis' release began getting airplay.

The country and western side of SUN 209, ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' is one of the recordings where no master tape was turned over to RCA in the first place. A November 1955 RCA tape transfer of a SUN 78 RPM has been used up until now. ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' is one of the worst recorded, mastered Sun masters with compression and overdone echo, but it isn't nearly as bad as the RCA tape implied. RCA compressed it further (to death actually) in November 1955. A manually cleaned up, new transfer from a selection of original SUN 78 RPM's has rectified the situation on ''Elvis at SUN'' and the improvement should be obvious. The released slow outtake of ''Blue Moon of Kentucky'' as released by RCA on releases before 2010 comes from a copy of the "Good Rockin' Tonight LP" (Bopcat 100) and not from the initially turned over Sun Box #14. 

Elvis, excited over finally completing this song which all present agreed had the potential of being a hit, then attempted to record two more songs, he names of which have been lost with time. These songs might have included "Tennessee Saturday Night", which is unreleased to date.

Composer: - Billy Hughes
Publisher: - Unpublished
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued - Probably Tape Lost
Recorded: - July 6(7), 1954 - Probably Uncompleted Version

In 1982 RCA said that Elvis Presley recorded "Tennessee Saturday Night" at Sun, they had session notes but couldn't find a tape; has often been mentioned in newspapers and other sources as being in the possession of collectors who will sell it for a huge amount of money.

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)

After two days in the recording studio, Sam Phillips had the first Elvis Presley record. Phillips told everyone at Taylor's Cafe that Presley's rendering of Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right" and Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was an unbeatable combination. He had worked with many performers, Phillips said, but he felt Elvis' vocal phrasing and timing was the best of any artist he had ever recorded at Sun Records. Sam Phillips was confident that he had brought out the sound he wanted from Elvis Presley. The raw, sexy inflection of "That's All Right" and the rockabilly drive of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was a unique product.

The two sessions that Sam Phillips recorded with Elvis Presley were exciting ones. They also revealed how thoroughly Phillips was influenced in his decisions by past recordings. For example, he listened to a raw cut of Martha Carson's "Satisfied" during the July sessions, convincing him that Elvis Presley still had a way to go before he could record a commercial gospel tune. The original version of "I Love You Because" by Leon Payne was more soulful than Presley's cut, and Sam Phillips reasoned that Elvis' version would not be a completive song. During these sessions, Phillips had Elvis listen to Bill Monroe's "Uncle Pen", but, although Elvis Presley loved the song, he couldn't complete an acceptable take of it.

To gauge the commercial appeal of the two songs he had settled on for Elvis' first release, Sam Phillips pressed two acetate dubs of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" in the studio, and a separate dub containing "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky".


BILL MONROE - William Smith "Bill" Monroe, bluegrass musician, singer, instrumentalist,  composer, performer, and recording artist, was born on September 13, 1911 on a farm near  the small town of Rosine, Ohio County, in western Kentucky. Among the musicians connected  with the evolutions of the bluegrass style, none is more prominent in stature and more  influential in the contemporary musical field than Bill Monroe. Credited with its founding,  Bill Monroe is commonly referred to as the "Father Of The Bluegrass Music".

The youngest of eight children, five brothers and two sisters, Monroe had extremely poor  sight. He was a shy lad for whom his family's musical traditions afforded comfort and  identity.  His mother, who played old-time fiddle and was a well-versed singer of mountain  songs, died when he was 10, and his father died, when he was 16. He lived for several  years with his Uncle Pen (Pendleton Vandiver), a fiddler who strongly influenced his music  and who was later immortalized in song by Monroe. He also learned much from a black  country dance musician, guitarist and fiddler, Arnold Shultz, with whom he played at  dances. Black musical stylings played a significant role in Monroe's personal approach to  his art form, and blues artists - along with Jimmie Rodgers - made a decisive impact on his  formative years as a musician. Another pervading influence in his youth was church  singing, which provided a musical foundation for innumerable Southern musicians, both  black and white. In 1929 he joined two older brothers, Birch and Charlie Monroe, at  industrial jobs near Chicago. In 1932 the three became part of an exhibition square-dance  team at the National Barn dance on Chicago radio station WLS. After working with the  WLS, they received an offer to appear on WWAE in Hammond, Indiana, in 1930. They  participated in a number of programs aired on midwestern radio stations, and, even today,  Bill Monroe has strong musical ties with Indiana as owner of the Jamboree Park in Bean  Blossom - the site of year round bluegrass music events (including the annual Bill Monroe  Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival). In 1934 Bill and his brother Charlie became professional  "hillbilly" radio singers, and switched their base of operations to the Carolinas, where they  established themselves as one of the top performing acts in the region.

By 1938 their duets had become popular throughout the Southeast through their radio  broadcasts in Iowa and the Carolinas, their personal appearances, with Birch now back at  his regular job in the ill refineries, Bill and Charlie made their initial recordings on  February 17, 1936, for RCA Victor, on the Bluebird label, as the Monroe Brothers (1936-19 38). Their first release was a sacred song which Bill Monroe had learned in church when he  was fourteen, "What Would You Give In Exchange For Your Soul", backed up with "This  World Is Not My Home". In the ensuing tree-year period, The Monroe Brothers produced a  number of classic recordings, such as "Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms" and "Nine Pound  Hammer", among the sixty songs recorded for Bluebird. Their reputation spread widely as  their music reached into both rural and urban homes, where radios or phonographs  provided a rich source of entertainment and a learning tool for prospective musicians.  Many of the fundamentalists of bluegrass music - vocal and instrumental - are found in the  collaborative work of the Monroe Brothers.

In 1938 the brothers parted. Charlie Monroe continued his musical career, first with the  Monroe Boys, a trio, and then with his famous band, the Kentucky Partners. Bill Monroe  formed his own group, the Blue Grass Boys, which consisted originally of guitarist Cleo  Davis, bassist Amos Garin, and fiddler Art Wooten. Over the years, the band's personal has  changed many times, and some of country music's best-known artist have been members  of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys at some point in their careers. For the first time in his  career, Bill Monroe sang solo and lead vocals as the twenty-seven-year-old leader of the  Blue Grass Boys.

In October 1939 he joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry on WSM  (Monroe closed every Grand Ole Opry performance with the old minstrel piece  "Watermelon On The Vine"), and he has been in Nashville ever since.

His recordings for  Victor (1940-41), Columbia (1945-49) and Decca/MCA (since 1950) have sold consistently  over long periods; many are still in print. His compositions include instrumentals, religious  songs, and secular songs on a variety of topics.

In 1942 he starting touring, taken with him a large circus tent that he set up in every small  town he played along the way. By 1945 his band had evolved as a distinctive musical entity  created by the addition of Earl Scruggs, who developed a position of prominence for the  five-string banjo in the traditional string band and provided the final ingredient for the  modern bluegrass sound. Three years prior, David "Stringbean" Akeman had been hired by  Monroe as the band's first banjoist, but the instrument was used solely to provide rhythm  accompaniment. Earl Scruggs revolutionized the role of the five-string banjo as a string  band instrument and became its foremost proponent in the United States. From 1945 to  1948 the Monroe style was perfected as the "original" bluegrass band, with Lester Flatt,  Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Howard (Cedric Rainwater) Watts, and Chubby Wise brought  national prominence to the modern bluegrass sound. In the postwar years Bill Monroe and  the Blue Grass Boys became one of the most important groups in the entire history of  country music, and countless numbers of country musicians became their imitators.

In 1948 Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs left the Monroe organization to form their own band,  the Foggy Mountain Boys. Like many of the others who played with Bill Monroe and then  struck out on their own - including Carter Stanley, Jimmy Martin, and Mac Wiseman - Flat  and Scruggs played initially in the Monroe style. After a few years of recording with  Columbia, Bill Monroe signed a contract with Decca (now incorporated, with Kapp and Uni,  into MCA Records, Incorporated) in 1949. To date, he has recorded nineteen albums on the  MCA label. Some of his best-known compositions include "Kentucky Waltz", "Blue Moon Of  Kentucky", "Mule Skinner Blues", and "Uncle Pen". In 1970 the Country Music Association  acknowledged Bill Monroe's influence by electing him to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

His national prominence was underscored in July 1982, when he was among the first  recipients of the Annual National Heritage Fellowship Awards made by the Folks Arts  Program of the National Endowment for the Arts. His award described him as "one of the  few living American musicians who can justly claim to have created an entirely new  musical style". William Smith "Bill" Monroe died on September 9, 1996 in Nashville,  Tennessee on the age of 84.


Elvis Presley performed in Cherry Valley, Arkansas. This small town near Memphis is  mentioned as one of the first places that Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black appeared.  There is no firm evidence.


Elvis Presley performed in Little Rock, Arkansas. Oscar Algood was sales manager for KLRA radio  in the 1950s. He remembers Elvis Presley hitch-hiking to Little Rock to appear on the  Barnyard Frolic on Saturday nights at Robinson Auditorium. Elvis Presley wasn't allowed on  the regular portion of the show, broadcast over KLRA from 8 to 10 p.m. However, the  performers did permit the young man to do his stuff during an hour following the broadcast.

Sources: Little Rock Gazette, August 17, 1977

Announcer Fred Cook was the first disc jockey who played an Elvis record in the air at WREC radio in the basement of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. >


Dewey Phillips was the first disc jockey in the world to play an Elvis Presley record (acetate) in the  air? Later research and back-up interviews prove this wrong. Dewey was the second disc  jockey to play an Elvis record on the air - runner-up by about four hours.

Marion Keisker was the first to tip to this in a lengthy conversation just six weeks before  she died. "I believe, if you will check this out, you will find that Dewey was not the first to  play Elvis on the air", Keisker said. "If you will dig a little deep, you will find that Fred  Cook was the first to play an Elvis acetate on the air on WREC and that I had a little something to do  with in".

Here is Fred Cook's memory of that day:   "At the time, I was playing easy listening music at WREC. Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Perry  Como... really great singers. Marion was working full-time at the station, as Kitty Kelly on  the air, and writing copy for us; and then she worked part-time for Sam Phillips at Memphis  Recording Service. My show was a fifteen-minute show going on the air at 4 p.m.".

"When television began to attract a lot of people, the radio networks began pulling back on  their programming. We were a CBS affiliate. When I joined the station in 1950, most of our  programming came from CBS. Virtually all of it. Then they started dropping shows and  that's when we started playing records. My fifteen-minute show was named "Your Popular  Music by Hoyt Wooten" (the station's founder and owner). As the network receded, my  show was lengthened. Eventually I would up with a three-hour show in the late fifties and  early sixties".

"One afternoon, July 7, 1954, I was playing my regular selections - Count Basie, Bennie  Goodman, and stuff - and Marion came running in, all excited. She said, 'I've got a record  (it was a 45 Sun or acetate on the Sun label) that you've got to play!'. I liked Marion a great deal and I  admired her taste and judgement. So, I took the record and looked at it. It was someone  named Elvis Presley. I had never heard of this man, Elvis Presley. It was ''That's All Right with ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''.

"To tell you the truth, I can't remember which side I played, but I put it on the air without  listening to it. And after about thirty seconds, I had had enough! I faded it down, took it  off the turntable and handed it back to her and said, 'Marion, that's the worst piece of shit  I have ever heard!'. Those were my words. I knew nothing about him".

"Later, it would turn out he had tremendous charisma and all those things, but as far as  being a singer, at first I was never impressed and I never changed my mind about that.  Marion was quite upset with me. She couldn't understand. She thought I was wrong,  except I really wasn't, because in the context of the music we were playing on WREC, it  didn't fit, no more than if I had played the original version of "Hound Dog" by that back  artist (Big Mama Thornton), which, I determined later, was a heck of a lot better than the  "Hound Dog" that Elvis recorded".

"I understand a lot of what Elvis did. He made a lot that kind of music (black music)  palatable to a larger, primarily white, audience. It was the same thing when I was in high  school. The big bands, especially Benny Goodman, took music that had been primarily  black music of the black bands - Count Basie, Jimmy Lunceford and others - tightened it up,  polished it up a little bit, and made it palatable to a larger white constituency. Elvis did  exactly the same thing".

"But that's the story. I didn't play Elvis' records all the way through. This was the afternoon  the record came off the presses. As long as I did a record show in which I had a choice in  what was being played, I never played Elvis on the air again".

"If you'll recall, Tom Parker used to buy time on radio stations for special programs, like  Mother's Day. He paid very well for it. It was all a pre-taped show and we used to air those  because there was good money in it. But I never played an Elvis record again".  "As I came to understand more about what he was doing - and I think a lot of real, true  Elvis fans will agree - when he started singing ballads and things like that, he wasn't really  very good. His voice was not very pleasant to hear doing ballads, like "Love Me Tender".

"He had a kind of strained vibrato sort of thing. Technically, I just didn't think he had a  good voice for ballads. I mean, singing the rock things, he was very good at that, but we  were never in a rock format. If we had that rock format, I guess we would have played  him".

"I don't remember that Marion ever talked to me about Elvis Presley after that first  record", said Fred Cook. Other old-timers at WREC Radio remember this story just as  Marion Keisker and Fred Cook told it. Before Elvis, Cook had, at times, broadcast the big  bands from the Skyway of the Peabody Hotel. His engineer had been Sam Phillips. Further,  it make sense that Marion Keisker, being an employee of WREC, would offer her own  station the first chance to play Elvis Presley first on the air. This doesn't change the  influence Dewey Phillips had in making Elvis popular among Memphis teens.

FRED COOK - Frederick P. Cook was born on April 11, 1925 and came to Memphis in 1950 to work at  radio station WREC as an announcer. He worked there for more than 2 decades, rising to management  positions. Cook was also the first newscaster on WREC-TV (Channel 3, now WREG).  While Cook's down to earth style associated him with serious broadcasting: news, information, a taste in  music focused on standards and easy listening, he really captured his audience when he and fellow  announcer John Powell kept WREC radio on the air by simplying talking to one another while a blaze in the  basement of the Peabody Hotel, where WREC was located, was extinguished by firefighters.

Radio broadcast with John Powell (left) and Fred Cook. ^

The witty  repartee between the two announcers lead to a regular program called "The Zero Hour" in which they mostly  just talked to one another with thousands of radio listeners tuned in, essentially ease dropping on a very  humorous conversation.

The radio program was so popular that hotel ballrooms to attend anniversary broadcasts. During this time,  WREC mostly appealed to adults, but ''The Zero Hour'' bridged the generational gap. ''The Zero Hour''  continued for more than a decade. Cook is well remembered for another service he provided to the Memphis  community, that of the public address announcer at Memphis State University home basketball games. As  radio formats and station ownerships changed, Cook did commercials for both radio and TV, he also read for  radio station WYPL-FM, which provides reading services for the visually handicapped.

Fred Cook, 83, radio and TV announcer and executive, and announcer for the Memphis State Tigers  basketball games, had been diagnosed with lung cancer died on Monday December 8, 2008.


Dewey Phillips played at radio station WHBQ in Chisca Hotel the night "That's All Right" for  the first time in his radio program "Red Hot and Blue". Elvis Presley went to the  neighborhood theater, Suzore II, located at 279 North Main Street in Memphis, to see "The  Best Years Of Our Lives" because he was too shy to hear his own record on the radio.  The  response was instantaneous.

Forty-seven phone calls, it was said, came in right away, along  with fourteen telegrams, or was it 114 phone calls and forty-seven telegrams, Dewey Phillips  played the record seven times in a row.

"I was scared to death", Elvis said. "I was shaking all over, I just couldn't believe it, but  Dewey kept telling me to cool, it was really happening". "Sit down, I'm gone interview  you", Dewey told Stanley Booth in 1967. "He said, "mr. Phillips, I don't know nothing about  being interviewed". "Just don't say nothing dirty", I told him. He sat down, and I said I'd  him know when we were ready to start. I had a couple of records cued up, and while they  played we talked. I asked him where he went to high school, and he said, 'Humes". I  wanted to get that out, because a lot of people listening had thought he was coloured.  Finally I said, "All right, Elvis, thank you very much". "Arent't you gone interview me? he  asked. I already have, " said. The mike's been open the whole time". He broke out in a  cold sweat".

Label of the original demo acetate record of ''That's All Right'' stamped with WHBQ radio station marking. >

Wink Martindale was there in the WHBQ radio studio on the mezzanene of the Chisca Hotel   that night. Wink knew Dewey's on-air antics, as well as Dewey's normal life, were, well,   other than normal. "I had a morning show on WHBQ radio then and I was in the studio that   night putting together my show for the next day", Wink Martindale recalls. "Dewey was in   there doing his thing and suddenly the board lights up.

People are calling in responding to   that record. Dewey had me call Elvis' house to get him to come to the studio. Gladys  answered the phone, said he was at the Suzores, she would go and get him and send him   down to the station".

"Had he known that, he would have been so nervous he couldn't talk. Dewey had a plan, to   play black music for white kids", said Wink. "Elvis' song instantly became a regional hit.   The next day I went out to Music Sales to pick up some promo records for the station and   Bill Fitzgerald, the owner, said he had been flooded with calls from records stores for   Elvis' record, but Sam Phillips had not pressed enough, so he would be two weeks getting   all these orders filled".

Wink Martindale ruled the morning air waves on WHBQ radio with his Wink Martindale Mars   Patrol. And while Dewey could get away with practically anything at night, Wink was bound   by WHBQ's format. "We were still playing a lot of Perry Como and Eddie Fisher", the former   commander of the Mars Patrol said, "About the wildest thing Mark Forrester, our program   director, would let us play was some Sha-Boom stuff. "Dewey had a country music show on   the air at 11:30-12:30, but that was because we were trying to compete with WMPS radio.   Then Dewey would play his hot stuff at night", said Wink.

Elvis Presley playing football in and around Lauderdale Courts with Charlie Bramlett, had a   smaller brother, John, a few years younger than himself and Elvis. "Charlie, Elvis and I had   gone over to the Suzores Theater", recalled John Bramlett, "I don't remember what was on   that night, probably a cowboy movie. Anyway, we were sitting there when Mr. and Mrs.   Presley came in, looking in the dark, trying to find Elvis. When they spotted us, Mrs.   Presley came over and said, 'Elvis, come on now. They want to talk to you down at the   radio station'. Elvis said, 'Why, mama?'. She said, 'They said Mr. Phillips is playing your   record on the air down at WHBQ. They said he wants to interview you on the air'. Elvis   excused himself and left the Suzore with his mother and father".

WHBQ RADIO (AM 560) - Founded by Gordon Lawhead and owner of Memphis radio station  (telephone: Jackson 6-5456), located in Lobby of the Chisca Hotel at 272 South Main Street  across Beale Street, is one of the city's key stations in the 1950s. The station's best-known  disc jockey, the manic Dewey Phillips, hosted the "Red Hot and Blue" show, essential  listening for Memphis' first generation of rock and roll aspirants. On July 7, 1954, Sun  Records' Sam Phillips handed Dewey (no relation) a test pressing of Elvis Presley's first  single, "That's All Right".

The disc jockey was so impressed he yelled, "Degawwhhh, it's a hit,  it's a cotton pickin' hit!", right on air. Within minutes the switchboard was jammed, and he  began playing the track over and over while desperately trying to get Elvis Presley in for an  interview. Eventually the singer was found at a local Suzure II cinema and whisked into the  studio.

Once Presley became a star, Dewey Phillips began calling everybody, including himself,  Elvis - he'd even call up Atlantic Records VP Jerry Wexler and say, "Hi Elvis, this is Elvis".  When Wexler and co-executive Ahmet Ertegun popped into the station one day in 1956 to  plug records, Dewey told listeners he had a "couple of Yankee records thieves" with him.  But after the show, he took the pair to meet Presley at a now-demolished club, where  they unsuccessfully tried to buy out the future King's contract from Sun. Atlantic offered  $30.000, which they could barely afford, but lost out to RCA Victor, which bid an extra  $10.000. Elvis Presley didn't sing at the club that night, but Ertegun got up and did an  impromptu version of Muddy Waters' "Hoochie Coochie Man", which won over a sceptical  Dewey Phillips to Atlantic's cause and convinced him to play the labels' New York records  on WHBQ radio.

From the moment Dewey's life was intertwined with the rising career of Elvis Presley. Elvis  joined him on the air several times, though every appearance was fraught with security  problems. Once Dewey announced that Elvis Presley and the band were tuning up inside  the radio station. Soon a crowd of teenagers rushed through the hotel entrance and up the  stairs to the radio station on the mezzanine floor. Only a glass wall separated the  musicians from the excited crowd, and the police were called to restore order. Elvis  Presley and the band had to escape through a back exit.

Situated at the corner of Linden Avenue and South Main Street, the Hotel Chisca had two  entrances. The disc jockey’s and musicians preferred to use the Linden Avenue, or side  entrance, into the hotel lobby. They would walk up a flight of stairs to the mezzanine  floor, turn left down the hallway, and walk through the two glass doors into the station. In  the back left portion of the station was Dewey's small room, filled with records and the  endangered equipment. The room usually was crowded during show time because of  Dewey's large entourage. Visitors to Dewey's show would also gather at the gravel parking  lot across Linden Avenue (now part of the Memphis Light Gas and Water Building).

Radio station WHBQ moved and now based in the suburbs to a new facility at 462 South  Highland in 1962, the station features sports and talk, having abandoned music after disc  jockey Rick Dees assaulted the pop world with his 1976 single, "Disco Duck". Today George  Klein hosts his Elvis Hour radio show on WHBQ radio.

CHISCA HOTEL - Built in 1913 and located at 272 South Main Street, Memphis, across Beale Street, Sam  Phillips delivered demos to key Memphis disc jockey’s: including Dewey Phillips at WHBQ  radio. In 1954, the Chisca Hotel was home to radio station WHBQ and disc jockey Dewey  Phillips' program "Red Hot And Blue". Phillips often played new releases from friend and  business associate Sam Phillips' record label, Sun Records. On July 8, 1954, Dewey Phillips  played the acetate SUN 209 over the airways, making him one of the first disc jockey’s to spin a  professionally recorded Elvis Presley toward stardom. 

He was so impressed with Elvis  Presley's sound that he played "That's All Right" and the flip side, "Blue Moon Of Kentucky",  repeatedly throughout his show.

The Sundry Store at the Chisca as seen on December 30, 1953. >

The response to Elvis Presley was overwhelmingly positive. Dewey Phillips wanted Elvis  Presley to come in that night for his first radio interview. Sam Phillips called the Presley's  at their Alabama Street apartment, but Elvis Presley was no where to be found.  Vernon  Presley hunted him down, finding him hiding at the movie theater, Suzore II at 279 North  Main Street, because he was too afraid to listen to himself on WHBQ radio.

That night Elvis  Presley went to the Chisca Hotel where he was interviewed by Dewey Phillips. During the  interview Phillips asked Elvis Presley which high school he attended.  The racial climate at  the time was so tense, and Elvis' sound so different from that of other white artists, that  his racial background was unclear. Elvis Presley's response of "Humes High School, sir",  affirmed to listeners that he was white.

Today, the stately Chisca Hotel still stands at the southwest corner of Main Street and  Linden Avenue, and used as the headquarters of a church with the name "Church Of God In  Christ", and is not open to the public.

On October 2012, the property appears to be on the verge of being saved. The private group   has closed on the real estate contract purchasing the Hotel Chiska. It is expected renovation   activity may begin during the summer of 2013.

On August 7, 2012, the Memphis City Council voted to conditionally provide $3-million   toward the restoration of Hotel Chisca. An investment group reportedly now will proceed with   the purchase. Thew group still must provide/obtain private funding for the purchase and   millions in restoration costs.

The Suzore II opened as the Lincoln Theatre in 1927. A banner on an earliest photo of the building reads “7pm White Entry” which implies that the balcony of the Lincoln Theatre was segregated and had a separate entrance, which is possibly to the left of the canopy.

In 1932, it was bought by Fred Suzore and reopened as Suzore’s II theatre (his 1 theatre being on Jackson Avenue). It was located next to a fire station on North Main Street and a fire alarm was installed in the theatre in case firemen on a break happened to be inside the theatre.

The theatre was also involved in litigation after a shooting incident involving Fred Suzore and an alleged poacher on his farm property in 1952. Elvis Presley is said to have been fetched from the Suzore # 2 Theatre for his first interview, the night “That’s All Right'' first played on the radio. The building was demolished in 1967. >

SUZORE II THEATER - Located at 279 North Main Street, Memphis, Tennessee. Unlike the  opulent Loew's State Theater, the Suzore was threadbare operation. It had two old heaters  down front in the winter, and in the summertime, two big fans didn't do much more than  swirl the hot air.

The roof leaked, and according to Elvis' friend John Bramlett, "We always  took along two sticks - one to hold up our seats, the other to beat off the rats". But what the  Suzore lacked in atmosphere, it made up for in its selection of movies. This is where the  teenagers went to watch their favorite cliff-hangers, the serials that continued with an  episode every week.

Elvis Presley often to movies at this theater during and after high school every week,  sometimes with a group of ten or twelve guys, sometimes with just a friend or two. John  Bramlett remembers going there with his brothers, Charlie and Odell, and Elvis Presley.  One night in particular stands out among the others.

While Elvis Presley was dating Dixie Locke, they would often see movies here, then go to  Charlie's, a restaurant across the street. On July 7, 1954, the night Dewey Phillips played  SUN 209, "That's All Right", Elvis Presley went to the Suzore II to see a movie. The decline  of the Mid-America Mall, located at 7 North Main Street, let to the closing of Suzore and  the demolition of the building which once housed it.

Later, John Bramlett talked about the significant change that Elvis Presley underwent that  first night his music was played on the radio. "I knew he had been playing his guitar and  singing on Alabama Street outside the Scotland Inn, a little beer joint. That first time  people heard him and became excited by his voice was probably the last time anyone ever  called a radio station to ask who he was".


After the radio program Elvis Presley escaped out in the hot night air. He walked back up  Main Street to Third Street and then over to Alabama. Dewey Phillips wound up his show and  called his wife, Dot. "I told him I loved it", Dot Phillips told the Trenton (Tennessee) Herald  Gazette in 1978, ten years after Dewey's death. "He went on to say that he believed Elvis  Presley had a hit... Dewey cherished that moment with Elvis. He would tell it time and time  again".

Elvis Presley for his home at 463 Alabama Street, Memphis, Tennessee with his 1949 Zephyr Green Lincoln, spring 1954. >

Sam Phillips was at the studio that night. He didn't see Elvis, and he didn't see Dewey until  after the show, but he knew what had happened. "They didn't give a fuck about classifying  him, in Memphis, Tennessee, they liked what they heard".

Billie Chiles, a classmate of Elvis Presley at Humes High School who had never been  exactly entranced by his music, was at a sock hop at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church.  "Sometime during the evening, a couple went upstairs and outside to the parking lot",  Billie told former Press-Scimitar reporter Bill Burk thirty-five years later, "They sat in their  car and turned their car radio on... They couldn't believe what they were hearing. They  came running downstairs yelling. 'Come up here quick! You ain't going to believe what  Dewey Phillips is playing on the radio! We all ran to the parking lot. We could hear right  away it was Elvis singing "That's All Right Mama". "After the song ended, Dewey Phillips  played it again and again. We couldn't believe it! ELVIS! On the radio".


Since 1952, Sam Phillips and Dewey Phillips, the most popular Memphis disc jockey, had  worked together to promote promising artists. Every Saturday night Dewey Phillips' "Red,  Hot, and Blue" show on WHBQ radio featured the best of new records. The audience, rockoriented  high school students, was young and eager for new rhythm and blues records. Sam  Phillips believed "That's All Right" was perfect for "Red, Hot and Blue". During the week, Sam  Phillips had demonstration discs of "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" pressed  (possibly on the Presto lathe at Sun Records which was used for making the custom records  of the Memphis Recording Service). The other two disc jockey’s that Sam Phillips had close  connections with were country-oriented. On radio station WMPS, Dick "Uncle Richard" Stuart  was the first to play Elvis' record, spotlighting "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", and Sleepy-Eyed  John on radio station WHHM. Consequently, these disc jockey’s were given only the copies of  "Blue Moon Of Kentucky".

Jack Clement remembers hearing "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" on Sleepy Eyed John's show.  One morning Jack awoke and turned on the radio by his bed. Sleepy Eyed John was doing  his regular country show. As Jack rubbed the sleep from hid eyes, Sleepy Eyed John said,  "Here's the record everyone is screaming about". Then he played "Blue Moon Of Kentucky".  The song left Clement dazed. He had never heard anything like it.

In addition to being a popular disc jockey, Sleepy-Eyed John Lepley booked acts for the  Eagle's Nest, so he was well aware of Elvis' talent. He envisioned a lucrative commercial  future for Presley, possibly involving himself and his club, so he played "Blue Moon Of  Kentucky" every hour on his radio show. He began to court Presley, going out of his way to  become friendly with the younger singer. Sleepy-Eyed John had visions of managing Elvis  Presley, and he finally urged Presley to sign a management contract. Personally  uncomfortable around Lepley, Elvis Presley had no interest in singing with him. Elvis  Presley believed that Sleepy-Eyed John exploited the musicians at the Eagle's Nest. Lepley  persisted, however. The following week, Elvis Presley suggested that Scotty Moore sign  him to a management contract. The agreement was not a real management deal; it was  simply a means of keeping slick promoters like Lepley away.

WHAT IS THE TRUE STORY? - On July 8, 1954, Dewey Phillips went on the air at radio station  WHBQ with his "Red, Hot and Blue" show. The 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. radio spot was a favourite  of Memphis young set. Dewey Phillips played any song his listeners requested, and also  slipped in his own favourites. A flamboyant radio figure, Dewey Phillips drank openly both  while on the air and in local clubs.  It was a common sight to see someone hand Dewey a  bottle of whisky and a record through WHBQ's special booth at the Old Chisca Hotel on Main  Street across Beale Street, from where the show originated.

A local wild man, Phillips'  arrests for drunkenness were as legendary as his show business successes. He was, however,  the only man who could make a record an instant local hit.  Dewey Phillips' show was popular because he talked to his listeners on the air. He seemed  to be one of them. Irreverent. Loud. Brash. The twenty-eight-year-old Phillips vigorously  defended the new music. He had an ear for the songs that kids liked. When Sam Phillips  showed up to play Elvis' record, there was one minor problem. Dewey Phillips preferred  playing black music, and it was primarily the black Sun artists who had been previously  featured on "Red, Hot and Blue". Sam Phillips explained that Presley had a black sound.  After this brief exchange and a few sips of whisky, Dewey Phillips played the recording.  The full impact of this night was immediately apparent to Elvis' friends. "We couldn't go  anywhere with Elvis", Kenneth Herman remembered, "without someone hollering at us  about his record".

At about 9:30 p.m., Dewey Phillips played "That's All Right", and the phones began to  resonate with a torrent of calls. The listener response to Elvis' first song was  instantaneous. Local callers flooded the station with requests for more Elvis Presley songs.  It was common for Dewey Phillips' phone to ring like crazy for three hours anyway, but it  was unprecedented for almost every caller to request another record by the same artist.  Comically, a number of callers mispronounced Elvis' name. There were numerous black  callers. Sam Phillips knew he had something special, and he convinced Dewey to an  interview Elvis Presley on the air. Sam Phillips called Elvis' home to instruct him to come  to the WHBQ studios on Main Street. Gladys Presley informed Sam Phillips that Elvis  Presley had gone to the movies. He was at the Suzore II theater watching Red Skelton in  "The Great Diamond Robbery" and Gene Autry in "Goldtown Ghost Riders", and had no idea  how efficiently Sam Phillips had set the Sun Records promotional machine in motion.

The Old Chisca Hotel was a hotel with a part atmosphere. A grand ballroom, a fine  restaurant, and a bar full of people who mingled in the 1950s social-sexual atmosphere  made the Old Chisca a promenade spot. When Elvis Presley arrived at the studio on the  second floor, Sam Phillips whispered that there had already been fourteen telegrams and  forty-seven telephone calls requesting replays of "That's All Right". To make sure that  listeners knew Elvis Presley was a white artist, Dewey Phillips asked him where he had  attended high school. When Elvis Presley responded, "Humes High School, sir", the  listeners knew that the new sound was not a black one.

Complementing the airplay on Phillips' popular "Red, Hot and Blue" show, Uncle Richard on  radio station WMPS was the first Memphis disc jockey to play "Blue Moon Of Kentucky",  followed by Sleepy-Eyed John Lepley at the Sterick Boulevard WHHM studio. Lepley also  spent an inordinate amount of time telling the listeners that he had played with Elvis  Presley at the Eagle's Nest. With the Presley phenomenon still a year away, Sleepy-Eyed  John was already attempting to get on the bandwagon. The three radio stations together  filled the air waves with Elvis Presley's music, and the next day local record stores were  swamped with requests for the recording. The only problem was that it hadn't yet been  pressed for commercial release. "That's All Right" was not officially released until July 19,  1954, to an immediate and growing demand for the record in Memphis.

There have been many descriptions of Elvis' interview with Dewey Phillips on the "Red,  Hot and Blue" show. Dewey Phillips himself provided what is probably the best description  of the interview: "He sat down, and I said I'd let him know when we were ready to start. I  had a couple of records cued up, and while they played we talked". Since he had  performed in local clubs for a year, Elvis Presley was at easy around Dewey Phillips and  the people in the WHBQ studio. Elvis Presley didn't realize that the interview had started,  thus accounting for his relaxed manner. Under the circumstances, Phillips had little  trouble coaxing an excellent interview out of Elvis Presley. Listening to Presley, his ability  to answer Phillips' questions demonstrated his early media charm, and there was no doubt  that he had carefully planned his singing career.

Soon after the Elvis interview, Dewey Phillips began to be criticized by other local disc  jockey’s for praising Presley's music. "You can't believe how much criticism I got from my  friends in the music business", Phillips remarked. Memphis record moguls and disc jockey’s  didn't like the way Elvis Presley interpreted country songs. The thought of a rockabilly Bill  Monroe in the sacred shrine of country music song was too much for the purists. "Elvis is  worse than the coloured singers", a country disc jockey remarked to Phillips. "He lacks  ambition; Elvis doesn't want to learn the country music craft", a reporter for the Memphis  Press Scimitar commented privately to Dewey. Elvis Presley was criticized for being too  original. "It was then that I knew", Dewey Phillips recalled, "that young Elvis was a  forerunner of a new sound".

In general, though, Memphis music critics were enthusiastic about Elvis' first record. One  of the earliest critics to review Elvis' music was Jim Kingsley of the Memphis Commercial  Appeal. Kingsley called "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" the type of record that could "set the  world afire". Dewey Phillips died of pneumonia on September 28, 1968, at the age of  forty-two, while working at a small radio station in Millington, Tennessee.

The commotion over Elvis' talent may have persuaded another music legend to pursue a  career recording for Sun Records. On July 5, 1954, Johnny Cash returned to Memphis from  a stint in the air force. Cash was in town the weekend when Elvis Presley began his  recording career. Like many other Southern musicians, Johnny Cash dreamed of becoming  a singer, and Elvis' spectacular rise to prominence made it seem possible for any singer to  walk into Sun Records and walk out with a hit record. Johnny Cash listened intently to  "Red, Hot and Blue", and loved every second of Elvis' "That's All Right". The tuned into  WMPA's Uncle Richard show and discovered "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" being played in the  country music marketplace. Cash's reaction was typical of Memphis record buyers: they  wanted Presley's single.

Dave Wells Community Center, December 27, 1956. >

JULY 11, 1954 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley first met Jerry Schilling at the Dave Wells Community Center (also known as  Guthrie Park) in July 1954. The community center is located at 915 Chelsea Avenue,  Memphis, Tennessee.  According to Jerry Schilling, ''The first time I heard Elvis was in the second week of July  1954. That Sunday, July 11, 1954, I go over to my local playground in North Memphis, a very  poor neighborhood.

There were five older boys in and out of high school trying to get up a  football game. That's how unpopular Elvis Presley was at that point''. ''Elvis was just starting  out, and nobody knew who he was yet''.

''Red West, a friend of my older brother's, knew I played grade school football. He said, 'Jerry, do you  want to play with us?' Little kids love to play with the big guys, so, of course, I said, 'Sure'. We get in  the huddle, and I swear to God I saw the other guy and said, 'That's the boy from Hume High that sang  that song I just heard on the radio'. His name was never mentioned'.  ''We can never forget that rock and roll was born out of segregation. It was dangerous for us to go  down to Beale Street to buy our records. Our parents would have grounded us forever if they found  out. It was a totally segregated society. Beale Street was black. Main Street was white. In the middle  of all of that, Dewey Phillips played a record called ''That's All Right'' by a boy from Humes High  School. He had to say Humes High School, because the audience would then know that he was white.  Dewey played predominately black music. When ''That's All Right'' came on the radio, it was so  exciting. It rolled it into something to be a part of.'', said Jerry Schilling.

JERRY SCHILLING - Elvis Presley's personal aide and member of the Memphis Mafia from 1964  to 1976. Jerry Schilling was born on February 6, 1943, in Memphis. Elvis Presley gave Jerry  Schilling the martial-arts nickname "The Cougar".

He bought him several automobiles over  the years, and paid for his wedding to his first wife, Sandy. After he and Sandy split, Jerry  Schilling dated singer Kathy Westmoreland. He eventually quit the Memphis Mafia to try his  hand at film editing for Paramount Pictures.

Jerry Schilling helped edit Elvis On Tour. His first job in the management field was as tour  manager for Billy Joel. In 1976, he became the Beach Boys' manager and later handled the  Sweet Inspirations and Jerry Lee Lewis. 

Jerry Schilling was named Creative Affairs Director  of the Presley Estate in 1987. He served as co-producer of the "Elvis" TV series. From 1982  to 1987, Schilling was married to Myrna Smith of the Sweet Inspirations.

JULY 12, 1954 MONDAY

Elvis Presley signed a management deal with his lead guitarist, Scotty Moore. Scotty got 10  percent off the top, and the group would divide any income with a 50-25-25 split.

The  original management contract between Scotty Moore and Elvis Presley reads:

WHEREAS, W.S. Moore, III, is a band leader and a booking agent, and Elvis Presley, a minor,  age 19 years, is a singer of reputation and renown, and possesses bright promise of large  success, it is the desire of both parties to enter into this personal management contract  for the best interests of both parties.

This contract is joined in and approved by the Father and Mother of Elvis Presley, Vernon  Presley, and Miss Vernon Presley, Presley.

IT IS AGREED that W.S. Moore, III, will take over the complete management of the  professional affairs of the said Elvis Presley, book him professionally for all appearances  that can be secured for him, and to promote him, generally, in his professional endeavors.  The said W.S. Moore, III, is to receive, as his compensation for his service, ten (10%)  percent of all earnings from engagements, appearances, and bookings made by him for  Elvis Presley.

IT IS UNDERSTOOD AND AGREED that this is an exclusive contract and the said Elvis Presley  agrees not to sign any other contract pertain-ing to his professional work nor make any  appearances at any time for any other person or manager or booking agent, for a period of  one (1) year.

Now, we, Vernon Presley and Miss Vernon Presley, father and mother of Elvis Presley, join  in this contract for and in his behalf, confirm and approve all of its terms and his  execution of same and our signatures are affixed thereto.

The said W.S. Moore, III, agrees to give his best efforts to the promotion and success of the  said Elvis Presley professionally.

SIGNED AND EXECUTED on this 12th day of July 1954.

W.S. Moore, III
Elvis Presley
Father of Elvis Presley
Mother of Elvis Presley

It was a move designed to discourage Sleepy-Eyed John Lepley and a number of other slick  management types, something recommended by Sam Phillips as an interim measure until a  more experienced agent could be found. Sam Phillips however, in the background as a  friend, advising Elvis Presley on his future. Although Sam Phillips could have organized a  management firm to promote Elvis Presley's career, he preferred to concentrate upon  producing Elvis' records.

Scotty Moore received a ten percent booking fee. On all future concert dates, Elvis Presley  would receive fifty percent of the guarantee, with Scotty Moore and Bill Black splitting the  remaining money. In reality, the money was quite inadequate all around; the long drives  and the low-paying concerts in barns, honky-tonk bars, and grange halls barely with  expenses. To promote Presley's records, though, Sam Phillips urged that Elvis Presley play  anywhere, anytime, for any sum of money. This let to a series of high school gym  engagements, honky-tonk bars, VFW halls, and country-western clubs where audiences  were critical and demanding. The uncomfortable drives to such shows, the unpredictable  circumstances, and the haphazard working conditions did have a beneficial side to them,  however, the rigors of the road helped developed Elvis Presley's musical discipline and  style. He also learned to deal first-hand with small-time promoters who hoped to make a  quick buck from the emerging Presley phenomena.

On this day, Scotty Moore took the contract to Vernon and Gladys Presley to sign as Elvis'  guardians. The four (Scotty, Elvis, Vernon and Gladys) of them signed the contract and  dated it. After the singing, Gladys told Scotty she expected him to look after her son. That  same night, Scotty, Elvis, and Bill met at Carney Moore's Dry Cleaners to build up a playlist.  Tammy Wynette remembers the rehearsals with fondness. Just getting to the dry cleaners  from her house or from school was always an adventure in itself. "The day I remember the  most was the one when they were coming down the stairs and Auzella looked up and said,  'My, my, my, Look at the stairs'", says Tammy. "Elvis was nothing then, but he looked at her  with that little smile of his and he said, 'Auzella, one of these days I'll wrap you up in  hundred dollar bills'".

At this point, Elvis Presley, ragged and tired-looking during the first month of his  professional career, continued to work a day job at Crown Electric. It was a dull, tedious  job, and he was eager to quit. As Ronald Smith suggested, "Crown Electric had a rapid  turnover in labor-type jobs". Despite the pressure of his schedule, Elvis Presley also did  whatever he could to promote his first Sun single. By playing local clubs, he created a  demand for his record. He also spent time between shows convincing the audience to  purchase "That's All Right" - walking up to the bar, buying drinks for the locals, all the  while pushing his first Sun single.

Front of the Quonset Huts of Plastic Products, 1746 Chelsea Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, October 1998. >


As a result of the demand for Presley's record, Sam Phillips drove over to Plastic Products  Incorporated, the manufacturer of phonograph records and allied products, located at 1746  Chelsea Avenue in Memphis, to place an order for the Presley single. Sam Phillips ordered a  thousand 45s and 78s of "That's All Right" b/w "Blue Moon Of Kentucky".

The demand was so  great for Presley's record in Memphis, Sun Records recouped its costs immediately. Poplar  Tunes on Poplar Avenue ran the first ad for Elvis Presley's single in Memphis, and the small  record shop did a continuous business.

On this day, Elvis Presley to the Blue Light Studio at 130 Beale Street, north west corner Beale and Second Streets, Memphis, for an photo session and was made by employee Margaret Sutton. The Blue Light Studio is owned by Terry Garner, and is now located at 247 South Cooper Street, Memphis, Tennessee.

Elvis Presley's first publicity stills taken by Terry Garrner at Blue Light Studio, 130 Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee. >


Since all three men were working regular daytime jobs at this time, their first appearances  were limited to venues in and around Memphis. Over the next few weeks, Elvis Presley  would make several unadvertised guest appearances, usually on weekend nights, as an  added attraction with the Starlite Wranglers at the Bon Air Night Club.

He also joined the  Wrangles when they played the Bel-Air Night Club, which was adjacent to the Bel-Air Motel,  located at 1850 South Bellevue Boulevard in Memphis.

On at least one occasion, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black entertained a  gathering at the Firestone Worker's Union Hall in Memphis.

Clyde Rush, the rhythm guitar  player with the Wranglers recalled that Elvis Presley's intermission spots quickly became  the hit of the Wrangler's show, even in such unlike venues as the Firestone Workers Union  Hall in Memphis.

Johnny Cash, who lived across the Mississippi River in Dyess, Arkansas, remembers, in July  1954, that about this time he first saw Elvis Presley perform at a ballroom in East  Memphis.

This rare photograph of Elvis Presley was discovered in the Presley-Archive of the European Art Foundation 
Berlin. It shows the 19-year old guy in 1954. "At this age, I wanted to look always a bit older", Presley 
commented about this later. He believed that his "milky face" looked too soft. And because of this, people 
would not take him seriously.

The photograph was used in 1955 by his label Sun Records studios in Memphis, in a promotion campaign. 
The stylist gave Elvis a dreamy make-up, with dark eyelashes. 

The makeup artist further worked out his 
erotic lips by slight dash of dark red lipstick. The PR-photograph was distributed in black and white only. On 
a coloured version he looked according to what is known to girlish.

Elvis can be seen wearing a bow tie, like the one on the photo on February 25, 1955, Texarkana Municipal 
Auditorium. It is reported that Elvis flung his tie into the crowd on this date, and to keep up with demand, he 
bought a box of bow ties at his favourite clothing store in Memphis and hire a West Texas girl to sign his 
name on the, her payment was a kiss and a bow tie, authentically signed.


Sam Phillips carried Elvis Presley out for the first time to the Bon Air Night Club, located at 4862 Summer  Avenue, Memphis, across Mendenhall Road, to execute the first part of the plan that he and  Scotty Moore had devised. Elvis Presley sang with the Starlite Wranglers "That's All Right" and  "Blue Moon Of Kentucky". The steel guitar whined, the fiddle hemmed and hawed, and the  Wranglers began injecting a good time into their crowd.

They wore matching outfits, they  told a few jokes, and they had a good time on stage, all of which kept the crowd smiling,  dancing, and drinking. When their first set ended, there was a little confusion about the new  kid.

When Elvis Presley took the stage, a murmur went through the crowd. This youngster with  greasy hair and sideburns, the funny-fitting clothes, wasn't part of the usual act, and the  unexpected made this audience uneasy. Bassist Bill Black thrilled to the tension that began  creeping across the stage. He looked over at Scotty Moore, who was grinning nervously as  he anticipated the crowd's reaction to something they'd never heard, and then he looked  at Elvis Presley. It was time to start, but Elvis Presley was short of breath. He turned to  Scotty Moore, then to Bill Black, who grinned back widely. That put him at ease, and then  he performed the only two songs his trio knew.

It wasn't that the crowd responded poorly, but Elvis Presley was already anticipating the  riots that were soon to greet him. When they applauded after "That's All Right", then after  "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", and though they moved their heads in time to the beat, and  though some danced and several seemed immensely pleased - Elvis Presley, when they  didn't react wildly, felt like he'd failed.

"This was Elvis' first appearance, period, and he was absolutely mortified. Now look, this  was a small club, and it was all rednecks, and I don't mean any bad connotation by that,  but you had better be careful looking like Elvis Presley did in a redneck joint and not  singing hillbilly songs and you want to live. You got a bunch of people drinking, and then  you try to come on with some music, untried, unproved, you're unknown. I swear, he just  came off real good". "He said, 'Mr. Phillips, I just feel like... I failed'. I said, 'Elvis, are you  kidding? You were really good" I didn't say great, I said, The only thing that could have  been better would have been if you had enjoyed it on stage". You see, I was honest with  him, I didn't feed him a line of bullshit, and he couldn't shoot any holes in that", recalled  Sam Phillips.

"As for the Wranglers, there was friction", Scotty Moore said, "right from the start. To  begin with, they hadn't realized they wouldn't all be backing Elvis uh, though, of course,  that wouldn't have worked".

In the same week that Elvis’ first single was released, a certain person by the name of Tom Parker bought himself 7 ponies. This ‘Colonel’ will soon meet up with the boy from Tupelo, and together they will change the face of entertainment forever.




Some people in Memphis have indicated that this concert is recorded, but that has not yet been proved. Elvis Presley made an advertised appearance. When Elvis appeared with the Starlite Wranglers, according to Poindexter, there was a great deal of petty bickering. The other musicians didn't seem to understand Elvis' music, and they were miffed over his popularity in the local clubs. ''The other musicians were jealous of Elvis'', Poindexter remarked. ''It wasn't just that the girls liked Elvis; some of the musicians couldn't accept his new direction''.

It was Scotty Moore, Poindexter suggested, who made Elvis' sound so strong. But it was the rockabilly sound bursting out all over Memphis that really developed Elvis' talent. Poindexter believe that rockabilly music was a catalyst to Elvis' popularity. ''There were a lot of musicians who had the sound Elvis later popularized'', Poindexter remarked. Even the big name musicians felt threatened by Elvis. Poindexter laughed about the number of commercially successful show business figures who predicted so success for Elvis. ''I could tell that boy was a good one'', Poindexter concluded. ''He knew how to move a crowd''.

01* - "THAT'S ALL RIGHT" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Crudup Music
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - July 17, 1954 - Probably

Composer: - Bill Monroe
Publisher: - Peer International Music
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - July 17, 1954 - Probably

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)
Doug Poindexter - Acoustic Rhythm Guitar
Millard Yeow - Steel Guitar
Tommy Seals - Fiddle
Clyde Rush - Guitar


The Starlite Wranglers. From left: Bill Black, Tommy Seals, Doug Poindexter, Millard Yeow, Clyde Rush, and Scotty Moore. >

THE STARLITE WRANGLERS - Country band, headed by Doug Poindexter, who appeared in the  local clubs in Memphis and who cut a few records for the Sun label. Poindexter was born in  Vandale, Arkansas and developed a liking for country music sometime before he moved to  Memphis in the 1940s.

Like many people at that time, Doug's inspiration was Hank Williams.  Inspired by Hank, he formed a band with fiddle player Tommy Seals, guitarist Clyde Rush and  steel player Millard Yeow. Poindexter played acoustic guitar and sang. Sometimes in 1953  Doug named his band the Starlite Wranglers and booked them into local night clubs - the Bel  Air and the Beaufort Inn in Memphis, are all he can now remember - and out on the road  around the mid-South. 

The next logical development was to make a record, so the band  went over to see Bill Fitzgerald at Music Sales, the local record distributor. "Bill was the main  record salesman in town at that time", Doug recalled. "told him I wanted to record for MGM,  just like Hank had done. Well, Bill didn't exactly laugh out loud at us, but he was amused. In  the end, he sent us down to see Sam Phillips. Sam listened to us and said he liked what we  were doing. But he said he wanted something a little different from the Hank style".

In 1952, Scotty Moore, a regular player from Humbolt, Tennessee had got out of Army and  moved to Memphis. He had contacted Sam Phillips and had been asked to scout around  town for musical talent to work with. Whether it was Scotty Moore who approached  Poindexter or Sam who put the two together is now unclear, but the result was that Scotty  and his friend bass player Bill Black, joined the Starlite Wranglers. The band worked out a  new sound while they played a residency at Eagle's Nest on Lamar Avenue in Memphis.

In 1952 Johnny Burnette occasionally sang with the band. Scotty Moore recalls, "Sam had  told us he was looking for something new. He encouraged me to try things out. So I  developed a mixture of finger-picking and a harder, rhythm and blues method. We tried it  out on Doug's record and Sam liked it".

The Starlite Wranglers, including Scotty Moore and Bill Black, went on the road promoting  his new single (SUN 202) at Sun, and Doug recalls playing a large country music show at  Overton Park Shell in Memphis. After a month or so on the road, the band was contacted  by Sam Phillips who asked that a new singer, Elvis Presley, be allowed to go along. He also  asked Scotty and Bill to work up some songs for Elvis Presley to record. The result was that  Doug Poindexter's band included Scotty and Bill and Elvis for local gigs at the Eagle's Nest  on Lamar Avenue. Out of town dates were normally met without the three newcomers.

"The time they recorded Elvis' first record", Doug Poindexter remembered, "I was out of  town with the band and Scotty and Bill had been left behind so they could record. Then  when Elvis started to be in demand, Sam offered us all a regular gig in Shreveport. At the  time, records was in funny state of business and I wasn't sure I wanted to go with in. I had  a pretty good job and frankly I thought the boy Elvis would starve to death. Anyhow, Scotty  and Bill wanted to go ahead and they did, but I stayed in Memphis. Shortly after that I  decided to quit. I've never regretted it because I knew there were professional musicians  out there who were better than I was, and they were starving. There was no way to  foretell what would happen to Elvis. As far as recordings, well Sam never came up with the  right song for me and I guess he soon forgot about me, maybe it was just as well. What he  did want me to do was to open a country radio station in town with him - he talked to me  about becoming a disc jockey, but I didn't know anything about it so I said 'no!'".

When Sam Phillips originally considered having the Starlite Wranglers back Elvis Presley,  but when two of the band's members, Bill Black and Scotty Moore, first began backing Elvis  Presley, the sound they created filled the bill. An agreement was reached among Elvis  Presley, Bill Black and Scotty Moore that Elvis would get 50 percent of future earnings,  with Bill Black and Scotty Moore each getting 25 percent. Later, when Colonel Tom Parker  entered the picture, they were paid a flat fee.


The King Of The Road: Elvis Live 1954-1977
by Robert Gordon, St. Martin's Press (1996)

Saturday, July 17, 1954, marked the professional debut of Sun recording artist Elvis  Presley. Scotty and Bill, while making history with Elvis, were also playing a regular  weekend gig. The Starlite Wranglers were a country swing band, and their jazzy feel made  them easy to dance to – therefore popular. With Elvis exhibiting such talent, there was talk  of making him a, gosh, regular part of the Wranglers' show.

The Bon Air Club was on Highway 70, the outskirts of town, rural, walking distance to cotton  fields. Its clientele was tough, and on Saturday nights they were as friendly with Jack  Daniels and Jim Beam as they were with Jesus on Sunday. Step outside and say that, mah  frien'. The steel guitar whined, the fiddle hemmed and hawed, and the Wranglers began  injecting a good time into their crowd. They wore matching outfits, they told a few jokes,  and they had a good time on stage, all of which kept the crowd smiling, dancing, and  drinking. When their first set ended, there was a little confusion about the new kid. Scotty  Moore, who was now managing him, had to get a little stern when he insisted that only he  and Bill return on stage with the intermission act.


When Elvis took the stage, a murmur went through the crowd. This youngster with greasy  hair and sideburns, the funny-fitting clothes, wasn't part of the usual act, and the  unexpected made this audience uneasy. Bassist Bill Black thrilled to the tension that began  creeping across the stage. He looked over at Scotty, who was grinning nervously as he  anticipated the crowd's reaction to something they'd never heard, and then he looked at  Elvis. It was time to start, but Elvis was short of breath. He turned to Scotty, then Bill, who  grinned back widely. That put him at ease, and then he performed the only two songs his  trio knew.

It wasn't that the crowd responded poorly, but Elvis was already anticipating the riots that  were soon to greet him. When they applauded after the first song, then again after the  second, and though they moved their heads in time to the beat, and though some danced  and several seemed immensely pleased – Elvis, when they didn't react wildly, felt like he'd  failed.

What he came to realize what how much he'd learned in just one night. When he returned  the next week he was looser, more the prankster, and the fact that he was clearly starting  to enjoy himself on stage allowed the audience to enjoy him more. When this performance  was done, someone even WHOOPED, and in a place like the Bon Air, there was no higher  sign of adulation. He quickly thanked Scotty and Bill, agreed to talk with them the next  day because they had to get right back out on stage with the Wranglers, and with his head  feeling a little light, he found the front door and drove home a few inches off the ground.  He forgot his jacket and, too wired to be tired, returned. Inside, a few patrons recognized  him and began to shout. Others turned and saw who it was, applause began to ripple  through the club, and as if it was happening to someone else, Elvis found himself back on  stage for a command performance. Delighted and more than a little dazed, he said  something corny, stuttering a bit in his shy way, and the audience hooted because, having  seen him a time or two already, he was still different but now they could relate to him.  One-two-three-four, and the trio cranked it up, whipping through those same two songs  and thinking sooner or later they'd better learn another one.


The record was released on July 19, the Monday between Bon Air gigs. The crowd's response  and the record's reception earned Elvis a slot just before the headliner. Scotty and Bill may  have been used to performing, but never in an open-air venue like the Overton Park Band  Shell. The stage was as big as some of the clubs they played, and they were nervous. If they  had the jitters, Elvis was an earthquake. But when the time came, they took their place,  waited for Elvis to strike that first chord, and then tore into their thing.

When Elvis began swinging his whole body into the music – giving the audience a brand new image for their brand new soundtrack – they roared with approval. Bill began his own dance,  a clownish version of Elvis' movements. Scotty dipped his head and looked at the floor and  grinned, keeping the rhythm with his foot.

Peter Mars painting >

THE BON AIR NIGHT CLUB - Located at 4862 Summer Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, the club  was a small, nondescript place located at the edge of town on the highway to Nashville.  Inside were tables and chairs for maybe fifty patrons, a bar, and a platform for the  musicians.

Elvis Presley performed here several other times in the few weeks following the release of  his first single release of "That's All Right" as a guest artist of Doug Poindexter's Starlite  Wranglers.

Scotty Moore and Bill Black, members of the Starlite Wranglers, had convinced  the group to let Elvis Presley perform a few songs. The other musicians would step aside  while Scotty and Bill backed Elvis Presley.

Nonetheless, at that first performance at the Bon Air Night Club, Elvis Presley danced with  a few of the ladies and visited with some of his friends who had come to support him. The  Tiplers, Elvis' employers, were there to cheer him on. The Bon Air Night Club has since  been demolished.

JULY 18, 1954 SUNDAY

As word spread among his acquaintances, Elvis Presley became a minor celebrity at the  diners and bars where he spent his time. People who had barely given him the time of day  before were suddenly going out of their way to say hello or buy him a drink. That initial rush  of overt self-importance went over better in the bars than it did at home with his family. He  was leaving to go bar hopping when his mother Gladys asked what time he'd be home - as  she did every night. "When I feel like it, that's when", he answered.

"I don' care how many records you got playin', you better learn respect", she said. "I ain't  one of your bar whores and don' like bein' treated like one. You talk to me in that tone  again, I'll slap that attitude outta you and don' think I won't. I was 'fraid you'd pick up bad  habits hangin' out in bars filled with loose women and loafers. Don't make me sorry you're  my boy, Jesse wouldn't treat his mama in a bad way, and I 'spect you to be the same", she  said.

Having the nights off from performing, Elvis Presley cruised the bars that had become his  home away from home, intent on finding a women to dominate and control, needing to  regain the potency his mother had sucked out of him. It didn't take him long to find a  willing partner, and just like other similar encounters, he left feeling superior, but empty.

Late in the evening, the Locke family returns from their Florida vacation, and while  driving into Memphis Dixie hears "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" on the car radio. Dixie Locke  said, ''I knew what was going on, but neither he nor I had any idea of the magnitude of it. I  got telegram from him saying, 'They're playing my records on the radio'. He was ecstatic  over it. It was almost like disbelief that the disc jockey would even play''.

JULY 1954

In the beginning, Scotty served as Elvis' manager. He worked with Phillips for about six  weeks before turning over the business of obtaining bookings to Bob Neal's Stars  Incorporated, located at 160 Union Avenue (now Holiday Convention Center), a popular disc  jockey on WMPS radio in Memphis. In 1955, Bob Neal formed Elvis Presley Enterprises in  conjunction with Special Products, Incorporated.

"I think about a week, I became Elvis' manager", recalled Scotty Moore, "but it was real  shortly because as soon as the record started doin' stuff around Memphis, three or four  different... I won't say unscrupulous... but of undoubtful intent started converging on him,  for this, that and the other... and he didn't know what to tell 'em, so Sam said, 'I tell you  what - sign a contract with him. That way you can tell them you're already under contract  and that'll be the end of that'. So really that was all the contract was intended for".

BOB NEAL - Music agent born Robert Neal Hopgood in the Belgian Congo in 1917. His family  moved to the United States in 1930. Bob Neal became a disc jockey for radio station WMPS in  Memphis during the 1940s. He had his own program called "The Bob Neal Farm Show", on  which he played the ukulele and told jokes. Neal was also the owner of the Bob Neal Record  Shop on Main Street in Memphis. In addition, Neal hosted a fifteen minute afternoon radio  show called "The High Noon Roundup" before a studio audience of which Elvis Presley was  sometimes a member, especially when Neal featured the local Blackwood Brothers.

In 1952 Bob Neal became a promoter, establishing the Memphis Promotions Agency at 160  Union Avenue (now Holiday Convention Center)).  From January 1, 1955, to March 15,  1956, he served as Elvis Presley's manager, collecting 15 percent of Elvis' earnings off the  top, after which Colonel Tom Parker sneaked into the picture, taking over from Bob Neal.  Even after Elvis Presley signed his first contract with Colonel Tom Parker on August 15,  1955, he was still contracted to Neal. Elvis Presley in essence agreed to pay Neal his 15  percent in addition to 25 percent to Parker. In 1956, with the partnership of Sam Phillips,  Bob Neal founded Stars Incorporated (Suite 1916 in Memphis Sterick Building, located at  165 Madison Avenue), to handle recording artists. In 1958 Bob Neal became Johnny Cash's  first manager. Neal also has handled Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Conway  Twitty, Warren Smith, Sonny James, Lynn Anderson, Stonewall Jackson, Bobby Helms, Nat  Stuckey, and others. Unfortunately, Bob Neal let his most promising artist, Elvis Presley,  slip through his fingers in 1956 because he lacked the connections that Colonel Tom Parker  could provide.

When Neal's wife, Helen, first saw Elvis Presley perform at the Overton Park Shell in  Memphis, she remarked to Bob, "This isn't just another singer, this boy's different".  In the book The Maid, The Man And The Fans: Elvis Is The Man, by Nancy Rooks and Mae  Gutter, they erroneously claimed that Elvis Presley's first public appearance was for his  friend Sonny Neal, the son of Bob Neal. Sonny Neal was running for class president at the  time.

Robert Neal Hopgood died on May 9, 1983 in Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of 65.

ELVIS PRESLEY ENTERPRISES - Company formed in conjunction with Special Products,  Incorporated, to market more than 180 Elvis-related items in 1955, located at 160 Union  Avenue in Memphis. The items included statues, wastebaskets, books, dolls, mittens,  lipstick, scarves, sneakers, record cases, shirts, jeans, bracelets, photo wallets, polo  shirts, pyjamas, belts, belt buckles, handkerchiefs, billfolds, handbags, medallions,  necklaces, charm bracelets, perfume, wristwatches, and hats. The company was formed  by Elvis Presley and Bob Neal when Neal managed Elvis Presley. It was dissolved when  Colonel Tom Parker became Elvis Presley's manager.

JULY 19, 1954 MONDAY

Elvis Presley's first single "That's All Right"/"Blue Moon Of Kentucky" (SUN 209) was delivered  to Memphis record stores. Stanley Kesler delivered the first Elvis Presley singles to Charles  Records on Main Street across the Suzore II Theater, and the fifteen-year-old Eldene Beard  purchased a copy at 9:00 a.m., and was probably the first Elvis Presley record ever sold.  Eldene Beard first heard the record on WHBQ radio and was the first in line when the store  opened on the day of the record's release. She told Stanley Kesler that she had been waiting  for the record since it was first played on Dewey Phillips' program. Miss Beard was typical of  the young fans reacting to the new music.

When the record came out officially less than two weeks after Elvis' first session and from the start sold like nothing else Sam Phillips had ever released. Like nothing else, in fact, that Memphis had ever experienced. ''May we please call your attention to our new Sun release 209, ''That's All Right'' and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' by Elvis Presley'', Sam wrote to Billboard writer Bob Rolontz, who penned the rhythm and blues column. ''This record was put on the air here in Memphis last Friday, July 16, and sales have been phenomenal... According to our local distributor, it is being bought by practically every operator with all types of locations... and retail purchasers range from teenage white kids to dyed-in-the-wool Negro blues enthusiasts on the ''THAT'S ALL RIGHT'' side, while the hillbilly set young and old are setting the pace on the ''BLUE MOON'' side. Ruben Cherry, owner of ''Home Of The Blues'' record store on Beale Street, says, ''The potential of this record is unlimited because of its apparently universal appeal. I've never seen anything like it''''.

JULY 19, 1954 MONDAY

Ed Leek, a Humes High School classmate who was premed at Memphis State, described going  down to the plant and watching on Chelsea Avenue, the first records come off the press with  Elvis Presley. Precise sales figures are hard to come by, but we do know that "That's All  Right" sold 6,300 copies during its first three weeks on the market. By November it had  probably sold over 25,000. Later, "Good Rockin' Tonight" probably sold less than 20,000  copies during its first few months on the market.

JULY 23, 1954 FRIDAY

Since Presley quickly had an undeniable Memphis hit, Sam Phillips switched his  concentration to opening up other Southern markets. Phillips single-handedly merchandised  "That's All Right"/"Blue Moon Of Kentucky" in the areas outside of Memphis. Climbing into his  car, Sam Phillips drove through Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi placing Elvis' record in  small record stores, taverns, shoe shine stands, and radio stations. In Tennessee and  Mississippi, the one-stop distributors were not convinced that Presley's record was strong  enough to attract large orders from record stores. This forced Sam Phillips to use direct sales  techniques. He drove as far as Texas and Florida to drink whisky with the one-stop  distributors and convince them to take two to three hundred copies of "That's All Right" on  consignment. Before he approached the one-stop wholesalers, however, Phillips spent three  days stopping at radio stations. The ever present bottle of whisky, a few words of praise  about the station, and a promise to share the profits brought Elvis' record airplay. Soon  "That's All Right" was on the Florida and Texas airwaves. Sam Phillips quickly alerted  distributors in the other Southern states to Presley's popularity; one-stop distributors  couldn't resist ordering a record that was being played on the radio, and they ordered by the  boxful. On July 23, 1954, Alta Hayes of Big State Record Distributors in Dallas, Texas, placed  the first large wholesale order for Sun Record (SUN 209). Dallas airplay was the reason that  Presley's music broke throughout the Lone Star state, and it was not long before Elvis  Presley performed in Texas.

In late July, 1953, when Webb Pierce made an unadvertised appearance at the Eagle's  Nest, Lamar Avenue in Memphis. Pierce was on the way to Nashville, and he dropped into  the Eagle's Nest to watch a bill featuring Doug Poindexter and the Starlite Wranglers. The  special intermission act was Elvis Presley. "I remember that Elvis went up and was going to  shake hands with Webb Pierce, and Pierce called him a son of a bitch. He told him (Elvis)  that he would never appear with a singer who performed like Elvis", Poindexter  continued. "I couldn't figure, it didn't make sense to me".


Elvis Presley plays for the second time with the Starlite Wranglers again at the Bon Air Club (8pm), but Dixie  Locke cannot attend because she is underage. The Bon Air nightspot with an alcohol-fuelled redneck clientele unlikely to be endeared by Elvis Presley's music or dress code. Regardless, it was arranged that Elvis could come in as a guest singer and do his two numbers. Sam Phillips was there, encouraging him, as Elvis suffered a bad case of stage fright. Bobbie Moore came along too and she said, ''There wasn't a big crowd in there. They didn't go wild or anything. He'd get up and sing a song or two and later he would do it again''. Mr. and Mrs. Tiplers, Elvis' employers at Crown Electric, cheered on their deliveryman as well''.

Sam Phillips was encouraged enough to call Bob Neal, who, aside from his morning show at the radio, booked and promoted concerts locally. Sam talked Neal into letting Elvis appear on the big ''Slim Whitman Show'' to be held at the Overton Park Shell later that month. Bob Neal insisted that Elvis Presley join the union to be able to participate.

Original ticket for Slim Whitman's Overton Park Shell July 30 show. >

JULY 25, 1954 SUNDAY

The Commercial Appeal, Memphis,
July 25, 1954
Hillbilly Hoedown Features
Popular Music Favorites

Favorite folk ballads in a sylvan setting are on the entertainment bill this week as Slim  Whitman, one of the top-ranking rural rhythm experts, brings his troupe here for a show  at 8 pm.

Friday at the Overton Park Shell. Whitman is based with the Louisiana Hayride  group at Shreveport, La., and is currently hitting the top with a variety of rustic records.

His left handed style with the guitar is as unusual as his style of singing. Also featured will  be Billy Walker, a tall Texan, "Sugar-Foot" Collins, "Sonny Harvelle, Tinker Fry, and "Curly"  Harris along fit the laughs. Advance tickets go on sale tomorrow at Walgreen's Main and  Union, Bob Neal, WMPS radio disc jockey and impresario of the Friday show, said  yesterday.

In Person The Sensational Radio-Recording Star

Slim Whitman with

Billy Walker, Ellis Presley and many others

Add. reserved seats today at Walgreen's Main and Union $1.00

Tonight at Shell. $1.25 reserved. Kids 75c. General admission $1.00


JULY 26, 1954 MONDAY

Sam Phillips persuades Bob Neal the WMPS disc jockey whose noontime hillbilly and gospel  show Elvis Presley frequently attended, to add the young singer to his upcoming "hillbilly  hoedown", a package show starring Louisiana Hayride performer Slim Whitman and Billy  Walker, to be held this Friday at Memphis Overton Park Shell

On this same day Elvis Presley signs a formal contract with Sun Records, which must be  countersigned once again by his parents. It is for a minimum of eight sides over a period of  two years, with the contract renewable at the record company's option for a second  period of two years. The royalty rate is 3 percent of the wholesale price.

Elvis Presley publicity photo taken by Jim Reid at The Memphis Press-Scimitar offices on July 27, 1954. >


At lunchtime Marion Keisker took Elvis Presley at Crown Electric just down the street to the  Press-Scimitar Building at 495 Union Avenue. Memphis Press-Scimitar staffer, reporter Edwin  Howard, the editors' son, interviewed Elvis Presley during his lunch break at Crown Electric  Company on  475 North Dunlap  on July 27, 1954.

Elvis Presley told Howard that he felt he  needed only a minor break to become a mainstream musical act. Howard was intrigued by  Elvis Presley and wrote the next day glowingly about his music.

In 1956, Elvis Presley told Carlton Brown: "When my first record came out I was a little leery  of it. I thought everybody would laugh". 

There was no laughter in Memphis, however; after a  few hours of airplay, Elvis Presley was an instant star. The article was headed "In A Spin" and  led off with: "Elvis Presley can be forgiven for going round and round in more ways than one  these days. A 19-year-old Humes High graduate, he has just signed a recording contract with  Sun Records Company of Memphis, and already has a disk out that promise to be the biggest  hit that Sun has ever pressed... "The odd thing about it", says Marion Keisker of the Sun  office, "is that both sides seem to be equally popular on popular, folk, and race record  programs. This boy has something that seems to appeal to everybody. We've just gotten the  sample records out to the disk jockey’s and distributors in other cities, but we got big orders  yesterday from Dallas and Atlanta".

Memphis Press-Scimitar Photographer Jim Reid recalls:
My first meeting with Elvis was in 1954 when he had just recorded his first songs at Sun,  which was just up the street from the Press- Scimitar. The lady that worked there, Marion  Keisker, she brought him down one afternoon.

That week I was working night shift - 3pm till 11.30am. At that time we used the big old  speed-rapids, the 4x5's - which are now obsolete in news work, but all of our work was done  with those cameras then. You had to load up all your holders before you went out on an  assignment, and consequently you had two shots to a holder - one on each side. You didn't  like to waste your shots because you hated to load holders. So as I was about to go out on  assignment, one of our reporters dropped this young man down at our studio and said, "Jim,  I need you to take a picture. This is Elvis Presley - he's a singer"

At the time, I was 24-year-old... I looked at this individual and I had to turn away from him!  I'd never heard the name Elvis before, and he was dressed in the most nondescript clothes  you could imagine. His head was down and he was quite shy, and he looked like he wanted  to run! I thought Elvis Presley? This guy's a singer? I had to turn to the wall and mentally say  "Sure he is!" I sat him down and took two pictures - that's all. I asked him, "Raise your chin  up" and he raised it. I shot the picture and flipped the holder over… and again his chin was  back down. He was a very shy individual - very shy. I shot the second picture* then he went  back over to the reporter's desk...and that was my first encounter with Elvis''.


Elvis Presley receives his weekly paycheck of $46 from Crown Electric Company,  representing forty hours at $1 an hour and four of overtime.

Billboard magazine reviewed "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky". The review  called Presley a "potent new chanter who can sock over a tune from either the country or  the rhythm and blues markets". The review concluded with praise for "a strong new  talent".

Crown Electric pay roll check 1954 ^

On the same day, the Memphis Press-Scimitar published an interview with Elvis by Edwin  Howard in his "The Front Row" column titled "Overnight Sensation".

The article reported  that Elvis' first single was "getting an amazing number of plays on all Memphis radio  stations". Accompanying the story was a photo of Elvis Presley sporting a longish flat-top  haircut with sideburns and a ducktail. He was wearing a plaid, western-style suit and a  bow tie. The Press-Scimitar also published the first ad for an appearance by Elvis Presley.  He was listed as one of the performers on the July 30th Slim Whitman show in Memphis.

"The morning of July 27, 1954, Marion Keisker phoned me from Sun Records, where she  was Sam Phillips right arm, and asked if she might bring a promising young Sun artist in to  see me", recalled Edwin Howard. "Marion thought he had something. He had first come to  Sun months before to use the studio's rental facilities to make a record for his mother on  her birthday. Phillips had been intrigued and eventually recorded the boy commercially.

They would have to come in on the boy's lunch hour", Marion said, "because he was still  driving a truck for Crown Electric Company. I said, 'I'd be glad to see them, and shortly  after noon they got off the elevator on the fifth floor of The Press-Scimitar and came over  to my desk.

The boy's hair looked as if it had been cut by a lawn mower, but the trademarks were  already there - flat top, duck tail and sideburns. He was shy and, except for 'Yes sir' and 'No  sir', let Marion do all the talking".

Here is the item that ran the next day in The Front Row - the first 'interview' ever done  with Elvis Presley:

Memphis Press-Scimitar, July 28, 1954 >

IN A SPIN - Elvis Presley can be forgiven for going round and round in  more ways than one these days. A 19-year-old Humes High graduate, he  has just signed a recording contract with Sun Records Company of  Memphis, and already has a disc out that promises to be the biggest hit  that Sun has ever pressed.

It all started when Elvis dropped into Sun's  studios one day to cut a personal record at his own expense. Sam  Phillips, president of the company, monitored the session and was so  impressed with the unusual quality in the young man's voice that he  jotted down his name and address.

Some time later, Phillips came across  a ballad which he thought might be right for Presley's voice. They  recorded it; it didn't click. But they tried again; this time with "Blue  Moon Of Kentucky", a folk standard, backed by "That's All Right". 

Just  now reaching dealers' shelves, the record is getting an amazing number  of plays on all Memphis radio stations. "The odd thing about it", says  Marion Keisker of the Sun office, "is that both sides seem to be equally  popular on popular, folk and race record programs. This boy has  something that seems to appeal to everybody".

"We've just gotten the  sample records out to the disc jockey’s and distributors in other cities",  she said, "but we got big orders yesterday from Dallas and Atlanta". Sun  started by Sam Phillips, former WREC engineer, several years ago, has 40  distributors from coast to coast, so there's a good chance of a big  national sale.

Elvis, son of Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Presley, 462 Alabama  Street, is a truck driver for Crown Electric Company. He has been singing  and playing the guitar since he was about 13 - just, picket it up himself.  The home folks who have been hearing him on records so often during  the past few weeks can see Elvis in person when he's presented by disc  jockey Bob Neal in a hillbilly show at Overton Park Shell Friday night  along with veteran entertainers from the "Louisiana Hayride".

EDWIN HOWARD - Since 1942, Edwin Howard had been the entertainment columnist and  subsequently Amusement editor at the Memphis Press-Scimitar. On July 27, 1954, at Marion  Keisker’s suggestion, Howard became the first reporter to interview Elvis Presley for his  column, "The Front Row".

Born on Grand island, Florida, on July 26, 1924, Howard didn't  inhabit the hardscrabble world of the honky tonks; instead, he frequented the best  restaurants and clubs and counted himself on good terms with the Memphis' grandees. He  was, among other things, a Pulitzer Prize nominee and co-founder of the Memphis  Shakespeare Festival.

In early January 1959, Howard thought he'd try something a little different. He convinced  Sam Phillips to let him cut a record at Sun Records ("More Pretty Girls Than One"/"Forty  Leven Times" Phillips International 3540), which he would then turn into a feature piece  for the local newspaper.

After the demise on the Memphis Press-Scimitar in 1983, Howard resurfaced as the  lifestyles columnist at The Memphis Business Journal. In 1992, Edwin Howard moved to  Washington DC., but continued to write for the Memphis Business Journal until the paper  dropped its arts and leisure features in 1998.

Memphis Press-Scimitar, July 28, 1954 >

JULY 1954

In July 1954, as Dewey Phillips plugged the upcoming country music concert that was to take place in late  July at the Overton Park Shell, he gave Elvis Presley's career yet another lift. Like a carnival showman,  Dewey Phillips urged his Memphis listeners to come out and see the new local sensation - Elvis Presley.  "That boy's talent is wonderful", Phillips screamed at his listeners. 

Publicity for the Overton show had at first  featured Slim Whitman in an outdoor concert, and early posters didn't even list Elvis' name. There proved to  be so much interest in Presley's music that his name was soon added to the bill.  Ads in the Memphis Press Scimitar displayed Ellis Presley on one occasion. When his name finally  appeared, it was due largely to Dewey Phillips' publicity and influence.


Again, Elvis Presley plays for the third time with the Starlite Wranglers at the Bon Air Club (8pm).

On this day, Sam Phillips of Sun Record Company send a letter of two pages to Philadelphia, created three   days after Elvis signs with Sun. This letter to Sam Hodge of Paramount Record Manufacturing in   Philadelphia, PA is devoted entirely to Sun 209. Phillips fairly pleads with Hodge to ''please get on this  record up there… both sides are hitting, and in every category: Pop, Rhythm and blues and Hillbilly… this record has the   potential to sell in any territory in the country… it is definitely going to be one of the biggest records of the   year, and you know we can use the business''.

What’s hilarious and remarkable about this particular letter is that nowhere, not once in this two-page letter,  does Phillips mention the words ''Elvis'', ''Presley'', ''That's All Right'' or ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''! That’s  because Elvis was a total nobody, an absolute zero at this point, so why bother mentioning him? Phillips just  kept calling it ''this record'' and ''209''. How funny and historic is that?

Sun Records office manager Marion Keisker added a customary ''SCP:mk'' at the very end of this one  (meaning, of course, dictated by Sam C. Phillips, typed by Marion Keisker).

Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley and Bill Black on stage at the Bon Air Club, Memphis, Tennessee. >


Elvis Presley appeared for the third time with Doug Poindexter and The Starlite Wranglers at the Bon Air Night Club, and his band expressed some concern about the upcoming Overton Park Shell show. Scotty Moore and Bill Black suggested that Elvis Presley concentrate upon country songs.

The audience would be a traditional country music crowd, and it would be good practice to perform some old country standards. At the Bon Air Night Club that evening Elvis Presley sang his favourite, "Old Shep", followed with "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", and ending his brief set with "That's When Your Heartaches Begin".

The Bon Air crowd was not particular about which songs he sang, giving him an opportunity to practice and get comfortable with the idea of doing only country tunes the next day. Backstage, Bill Black tried to further calm Elvis Presley down about the Overton Park Shell show; Elvis Presley was excited but also anxious about playing such a large arena. 



When Elvis Presley returned to the Bon Air Night Club, he was looser, more the prankster, and the fact that he was clearly starting to enjoy himself on stage allowed the audience to enjoy him more. When this performance was done, some even whooped, there was no higher sign of adulation. He quickly thanked Scotty Moore and Bill Black, agreed to talk with them the next day because they had to get right back out on stage with the Wranglers, and with his head feeling a little light, he found the front door and drove home a few inches off the ground. He forgot his jacked and, too wired to be tired, returned. Inside, a few patrons recognized him and began to shout. Others turned and saw who it was, applause began to ripple through the club, and as if it was happening to someone else, Elvis Presley himself back on stage for a command performance. Delighted and more than a little dazed, he said something corny, stuttering a bit in his shy way, and the audience hooted because, having seen him a time or two already, he was still different but now they could relate to him. Onetwo-three-four, and the trio cranked it up, whipping through those same two songs and thinking sooner or later they'd better learn another one.

01* - "OLD SHEP" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Red Foley-Willis Arthur
Publisher: - L. Writh Music Limited
Elvis performance: - July 29, 1954
Recorded: - Unknown

02* - "THAT'S ALL RIGHT" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Crudup Music
Elvis performance: - July 29, 1954
Recorded: - Unknown

Composer: - Bill Monroe
Publisher: - Peer International Music - Southern Music Publishing
Elvis performance: - July 29, 1954
Recorded: - Unknown

Composer: - William J. Raskin-Roy Brown-Fred Fisher
Publisher: - Fisher Music Corporation
Elvis performance: - July 29, 1954
Recorded: - Unknown

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)
Doug Poindexter - Acoustic Rhythm Guitar
Millard Yeow - Steel Guitar
Tommy Seals - Fiddle
Clyde Rush – Guitar



Sam Phillips send a letter to Nate Duroff, manager of the Monarch Record Manufacturing Company in Los Angeles, California and that read:

Dear Nate,

''We have instructed Steve Shaw to send you a new set of 78 mothers on Sun 209. The numbers on these are U 128-2 and U 129-2. We had a few complaints on the other set of stampers here on the record and rather than take any chances on it we have recut the masters and ordered new matrix on both sides of this number''.

''I think it is safe for you to go ahead and press from the stampers that you now have, because the  number of complaints was few, but since the record looks like it is going to be a tremendously big one we just didn't want to take any chances on it''.

''As soon as you get the mothers on these please have stampers made and discontinue pressing from the 78 stampers that you are presently using''.

''Nate, please get on this record out there. It is the BIGGER record - bar one - that has ever hit the Memphis territory. Both sides are hitting, and in every category: pop, R&B and hillbilly. Out Memphis distributor in eight days has sold more than four thousand on it, and I am sure that, although tastes may be a lot different on the West Coast, this record has the necessary potential to sell in any territory in the country. I know you will do what you can, but I just want to urge you not to miss a bet on it because it is definitely going to be one of the biggest records of the year and you know we can use the business''.


Alta Hayes of Dallas-based Big State Records Distributors, who had placed the first large  order of Elvis' record, wrote to Sam Phillips and asked what Elvis' group was called. Sam  Phillips ignored the letter, but Elvis Presley saw it and began thinking about a name for  Scotty Moore and Bill Black. By late July 1954, Elvis' group was billed as the Blue Moon Boys,  a tactic that allowed the group to advertise themselves as two acts. The general consensus  was that Elvis Presley's early Sun sound was the result of a large backup band. Sam Phillips  didn't attempt to dissuade anyone from entertaining this idea because he felt that once  anyone saw Elvis Presley and his two backup musicians, they would be doubly impressed  with what could only be a very special and unique musical aggregate.

As July 1954 progressed, "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" received  continuous airplay on four Memphis radio stations. Bob Neal, at radio station WMPS, was  one of Elvis' earliest admorers. Each day on his "High Noon Roundup", Neal played "Blue  Moon Of Kentucky". Invariably, a telephone call would come in asking why he wasn't also  playing "That's All Right". Neal realized that his predominantly country music audience  apparently loved anything Elvis Presley sang, and this intensified his interest in young  Presley. Soon he was frequently the Eagle's Nest to scout Elvis Presley's act.

It was as a result of watching Elvis Presley tear up the crowd at the Eagle's Nest that Bob  Neal finally approached Elvis Presley about a management contract. Not only did Elvis fill  the cavernous Eagle's Nest, but he elected a special response from the audience. "I'd  never seen anything like it", Neal confessed to Dewey Phillips. Not one to keep a secret,  Dewey Phillips told his "Red, Hot and Blue" radio audience that promoter Bob Neal was  scouting Elvis Presley.

JULY 30, 1954 FRIDAY


Advertised as a Hillbilly Hoedown, appearing in addition to Slim Whitman and Billy Walker  were 'Sugarfoot' Collins, 'Sonny' Harvelle, Tinker Fry and 'Curly' Harris. The show began at  8:00 on the night of July, 30, 1954, and they started with Elvis, Scotty and Bill performing  'That's Alright Mama'.

Elvis was so nervous he stood up on the balls of his feet and shook  his leg in time with the music, a move he sometimes used in the studio. To his shock and  horror the young girls in the audience went crazy, yelling and applauding. Scotty said, "We  didn't know what was going on when all those people started screaming and hollering."

Next they did 'Blue Moon of Kentucky' and when Elvis got offstage he asked why people  were yelling at him. Someone told him it was because he was shaking his leg, which with  the baggy pleated pants created a wild gyrating effect in time with the music. Later in the  show they returned and did the same two numbers along with 'I'll Never Let You Go (Little  Darlin)', a new song they had been working on. The following year they returned to the  Shell for the second and last time for Bob Neal's eighth annual Country Music Jamboree.



JULY 30, 1954 FRIDAY

Some have indicated that this concert is recorded, but that has not yet been proved.

Elvis Presley and Charlie Torian Jr. backstage Overton Park Shell, July 30, 1954. >

Before Elvis Presley, with Sam Phillips, Dixie Locke and his parents, on stage, Charlie Torian Sr. enjoyed backstage being a Memphis Fire Department lieutenant. For one, he could drive his own blazing red car instead of riding on the back of a pumper unit.   For another, under the guise of inspecting for safety, Torian could gain access to just about any place in Memphis, including the Overton Park Shell.

Even backstage, Charlie Torian Sr. often brought his son, Charlie Junior, along to these 'inspections' were a concert was involved. On the evening of July 30, 1954, the two Charlies found themselves backstage. Charlie Senior wanted to photograph his son with a country music star.

Slim Whitman would be fine, but in a pinch, any star would do. Backstage area was more or less deserved as they entered. Over in the corner, a young man stood quietly, looking nervous. The Torians approached the young man and this conversation followed: "Are you one of the singers?". "Yes, sir". "What's your name, son". "Elvis". "Elvis what?". "Elvis Presley, sir". "Are you famous, son?". "No, sir, not yet".

Torian asked Elvis if he would pose with four-year-old Charlie Torian Junior. Elvis obliged. Torian Jr. remembered Elvis' coat was frayed, that someone, perhaps Gladys, had done a sort of haphazard job of sewing loose ends of the collar back together - obvious up close, but not noticed from the audience.

July 30, 1954 advertisement in the Memphis Press Scimitar. >

Elvis Presley made his first advertised appearance. Depending on the newspaper ad, he was listed either second or third on the bill behind Slim Whitman and Billy Walker on the 8:00 p.m. show at Memphis' outdoor Overton Park Municipal Shell. Also appearing were comedians "Curly" Harris, "Sonny" Harvelle, "Sugarfoot" Collins, and Tinker Fry.  Of the several ads for this event, on July 28 in the Press-Scimitar, misspelled his name "Ellis Presley".

Although not known for certain, Elvis Presley most likely sang both sides of his first single, although some recall that he also sang an encore, repeating "Blue Moon Of Kentucky". Tickets for the show went on sale Monday, July 26, and cost $1.00 in advance and $1.25 the night of the show. The concert was promoted by Bob Neal.

01* - "THAT'S ALL RIGHT" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Crudup Music
Recorded: - July 30, 1954 - Probably

When Elvis Presley came out on stage at the Overton Park Shell shortly after eight o'clock on July 30, 1954, he was to create a signal moment in rock and roll history. With Scotty Moore standing to Elvis' right and Bill Black behind him to his left, he burst into "That's All Right". After a few moments of silence, the young girls in the audience began clapping and screaming. As indication of Elvis' indefinable appeal, this wasn't the first time that Elvis' young fans had gone crazy. This time, however, it was on the largest scale he'd experienced. As Elvis Presley recalled, "I came out, and I was doing a fast-type tune, one of my first records, and everybody was hollering and I didn't know what they were hollering at". This comment was typical of Elvis Presley in 1954; he had no idea that his actions were creating a group of young rock and roll enthusiasts. "You'd see this frenzied reaction, particularly from the young girls", Bob Neal recalled. "We hadn't gone out and arranged for anybody to squeal and scream. For Elvis they just did it automatically". Dewey Phillips recalled, "I introduced him and stayed on stage while he sang. He went to "That's All Right" and started to shake and that damned auditorium just blew apart. He was nobody, didn't even have his name on the posters, but the people wouldn't let him leave".

Composer: - Bill Monroe
Publisher: - Peer International Music - Southern Music Publishing
Recorded: - July 30, 1954 - Probably

Composer: - Bill Monroe
Publisher: - Peer International Music - Southern Music Publishing
Recorded: - July 30, 1954 - Probably

Malcolm Yelvington, another Sun Record artist, commented that the Overton Park Shell show firmly established Elvis' performing skills, Yelvington remembered that Elvis stole the evening from Slim Whitman. When Whitman walked off stage, Yelvington asked him what he thought about Elvis Presley: "Well, if that young man keeps going someday he might make it".

Later the show, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black returned to the stage and repeated the same first two songs. Marion Keisker remembers that they also did a new song they were working on, "I'll Never Let You Go". "Now I'm a restrained person, in public anyway, and I heard somebody screaming, and I discovered it was me - the staid mother of a young son", say Marion. "I was standing out there screeching like I'd lost me total stupid mind. The rest of the audience reacted the same way".

Composer: - Jimmy Wakely - Arranged by Elvis Presley
Publisher: - Gordon Music Company - Peter Maurice Music
Recorded: - July 30, 1954 - Probably

Scotty Moore recalls, "We were all scared to death. Here we come with two little funky instruments and a whole park full of people, and Elvis, instead of just standing flat-footed and tapping his foot, well, he was kind of joggling. That was just his way of tapping his foot. Plus I think with those old loose britches that we wore - they weren't pegged, they had lots of material and pleated fronts - you shook your leg, and it made it look like all hell was going on under there".

"See, standing up and playing rhythm guitar, he had the tendency to rise up on the balls of his feet... where most people would stand flat-footed and either tap their foot or heel, well he'd kinda come up on the balls of his feet and just kinda'... quiver! And back then remember they had the old big-legged pants, and of course it made it look like he was doin' four times what he really was!".

And there was several little girls started squealin' and carrin' on - we didn't know what in the world was goin' on, and he didn't either. When he came off stage, Bob Neal and Sam said, 'What's wrong with them?'. I mean, that wasn't an acceptable thing, really, at that point in time. And somebody told him that they were screamin' and hollerin' because of his shakin'. He said, 'Hmm, okay!'. And, or course, from there he just gradually built that up".

Felton Jarvis was another important observer at Elvis' Overton Shell show, It was the first time Jarvis had seen Elvis Presley perform, and he was intrigued by Presley's ability to manipulate the audience. The crowd came alive during Elvis' spontaneous performance, one in which a simple nervous knee jerk excited young girls to fever pitch. In later years, Felton Jarvis produced more than hundred of Elvis' records.

Marion Keisker remembered talking with a woman in the audience before Elvis' show. "Who did you come to hear?", the woman asked. "Elvis Presley", Marion answered. "Who?", the woman said. "After this show you won't ask me again", Marion confidently replied.

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)

"I put him on a show with Slim Whitman at the Overton Park Shell", recalled Sam Phillips, "and I was late gettin' out there. He was gonna go on... 'course he preceded Slim and Billy Walker, and I was a little late getting there and there was a crowd of people so I parked my car...''

''I was real busy and Elvis met me and his hands were clammy and he said, 'Mr. Phillips, I've never done this before, I am scared to death!'. Now before that I had taken him out to a little club, it's up here about six or eight blocks, and that was the first experience that the guy ever made".

"Overton Park Shell was the first public appearance and I said, 'Elvis, man, you're gonna be okay'. See, Slim was hot, I mean he had "Indian Love Call" and this guy could sing like a mockingbird. For what he was, Slim Whiteman was a hell of a singer, let's face it. And Slim was big and Elvis was scared to death and he was just afraid that Slim Whiteman and Billy Walker fans just wasn't his and he might get booed off the stage".  "I told him not to worry. He went out and was still nervous - Elvis Presley was one of the most nervous people on stage that ever was, until the day he died".

The giant country music extravaganzas at the Overton Shell were greeted with great anticipations in Memphis. "We loved those shows", Kenneth Herman remarked, "because we got to see the new musicians". The concerts also gave the country music moguls a chance to scout new singers. Bob Neal was one of the local promoters involved in the show, and it was he who signed Elvis Presley for a special appearance with headliner Slim Whitman. Before placing Elvis Presley on the Overton Shell show, however, Neal went over to Sun Records and talked with Sam Phillips.

It was clear that Neal's questions were directed toward a possible management contract. He asked Sam Phillips which distributors were selling Elvis' record. Phillips responded that one-stop wholesalers in Dallas and Atlanta had placed orders for 250 records based on the radio play of "That's All Right". Sam Phillips convinced Neal that "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was making inroads in the country market. In order to test Elvis' popularity further, though, Bob Neal booked him into the Overton Shell. Bob Neal was interested in managing Elvis Presley, but he wanted to make sure that young Elvis Presley was not a passing fad. 

Elvis Presley backstage Overton Park Shell, July 30, 1954. >

By the time the two o'clock show approached on the afternoon of July 30, 1954, Elvis Presley had become even more nervous than usual. Ready to go on stage, a large man from the musician's union suddenly confronted him. Elvis Presley was told that he could not perform unless he joined the musicians union. After borrowing some money, Elvis Presley quickly filled out a union card. The incident only served to further unnerve him; he perspired profusely, and felt sick to his stomach.

Although stiff and nervous throughout the afternoon show, Elvis Presley made it through a performance, which was a virtual repeat of the previous night's effort at the Bon Air Night Club. He left the stage to an indifferent scattering of applause, depressed about his performance.

"My very first appearance after I started recording... was on a show in Memphis as an extra added single at an outdoor auditorium", Elvis Presley remarked in 1956. "I came on stage and I was scared stiff". Throughout his career, Elvis Presley never fully overcame his pre-performance fears. Although he was a master showman, Elvis Presley was always as nervous as an amateur prior to going on stage. Following the first show, Elvis Presley quickly left the Overton Shell.

Before Elvis Presley performed during the evening show, Elvis Presley had time to eat dinner. Depressed, he ate only one cheeseburger and drank half of his shake at a nearby truck stop restaurant. "You knew Elvis was upset when he couldn't eat", Ronald Smith remarked. Bill Black kidded Elvis Presley about his loss of appetite. Excusing himself from Bill Black and Scotty Moore, Elvis Presley took a long walk around the Overton Park. Chet Atkins attended the evening show at the Overton Shell, watching in amazement as Elvis Presley brought the crowd to its feet. "He moved different", Atkins remarked. "Instead of stomping his foot... when he'd sing, he'd wiggle his leg or his hip". Offstage, Marty Robbins watched Elvis from the wings; when he congratulated Elvis Presley on a good show, he winked and told Elvis Presley he was going to work up a version of Presley's record. Although not the first to cover the song, Robbins recorded "That's All Right" on December 7, 1954. A few weeks before, Smiley Maxedon had recorded it for Columbia Records.


OVERTON PARK BAND SHELL - Located at Overton Park, 2080 Poplar Avenue, Memphis,  Tennessee, with 4,000 seats, opened his doors on 7:30 Sunday, September 1936 of Mayor  Watkins Overton in his dedication speech: "We are not satisfied to made Memphis a great  commercial center. We want to make Memphis the cultural and musical center of the Mid- South as well".

The trademark, pastel-coloured rainbow speaks of happy times and  momentous events. The Depression's effect on Memphis was in part responsible for the  creation of the $11.933 Shell.

The Public Works Administration arrived in Memphis in 1934  and expended almost $9 million for large-scale construction projects.  Memphians went to  work painting, building, repairing streets, and resurfacing sidewalks - from which the Shell  evolved quite naturally in 1936.

As the Depression era waned, the Shell continued as a popular entertainment outlet. The  Memphis Open Air Theater (MOAT), which evolved from local thespians performing their  magic on an impromptu dirt stage in 1932, began its premiere season of five shows in  1938. Led by the original producers, Mt. and Mrs. Ralph Dunbar, MOAT traversed a 14-year,  89-production roller coaster ride through budget highs and lows.  New York's Metropolitan Opera acquired several vocalists from the playlists of MOAT, one of  whom remains a Memphis favorite: Marguerite Piazza. She debuted with MOAT in 1950  playing the lead in Rose Marie and went on to become a MOAT star as well as one of the  Shell's most beloved regulars.

Peaking at season attendance highs of 105,000 during 1946-1948, MOAT's days in the sun  faded in 1951 as it sank under the weight of continuing deficits and sagging attendance,  caused in part by the advent of air conditioning and television.

Resiliently, the Shell revived again in the 1950s with Music Under The Stars, a Tuesday   evening series led by Noel Gilbert and the Memphis Concert Orchestra. These programs   marked a significant change for Shell attendees: free admission. That Tuesday tradition   continued for over 30 years, funded by a partnership of the Park Commission and National   Federation of Musicians.

It was also in the 1950s that the Shell unwittingly became the launching pad for a uniquely   American form of music: rock and roll. Elvis Presley made his first major concert   appearance in Memphis at the Overton Park Band Shell on July 30, 1954 as the opening act   for Slim Whitman marked the "coming out party" for rock music at the Shell. Less than two   weeks later, on August 10, 1954, Elvis Presley performed two show at the Overton Park   Band Shell. One year later, on August 5, 1955, Elvis Presley was the headline act at   Overton Park. Opening for Elvis Presley, and making their first concert appearance were   Johnny Cash and The Tennessee Two. By this time Elvis' popularity was well established;   he was pushed farther into fame with every hysterical scream from the crowd.

Following his performances, Elvis Presley's work at the Shell fuelled public recognition,   and his career skyrocketed, igniting national enthusiasm - and disdain - for this new music   phenomenon. Whether viewed as a gift of a curse, rock and roll was here to stay.

The Shell played host to other rock and roll pioneers - many were artists for Memphis' Sun  Record label: Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Warren Smith, Roy Orbison, Eddie Bond, and  Jerry Lee Lewis. Then showcase rambles joined hometown favourites from the rhythm and  blues sector. Booker T. and the MGs, Rufus Thomas, Furry Lewis, and Isaac Hayes helped  give Memphis a musical signature from the legendary Shell stage.  But by the late 1960s, many in the community considered it a "white elephant", and, in  1965, it became the target of the Memphis Little Theater, which wanted to replace the Shell  with an indoor theater.

A reprieve came when the Memphis Park Commission decided to find  another site for the popular Music Under The Stars before destroying the structure.  The grim reaper came around again in 1966 when the Park Commission placed the Shell's  destiny in the hands of the Memphis Arts Council, which had plans for a $2 million  performing arts complex in Overton Park. Once more, the Shell faced extinction. This  time, conductor Noel Gilbert became the saviour who defied the bell's toll, gathering  enough protest signature to force the Park Commission to reconsider.

Ironically, rock and roll posed the next threat to the Shell's survival. Although the  performances that audiences had enjoyed continued in their diverse variety through the  early 1970s, rock and roll had undergone significant changes resulting in younger  audiences.

Rock's voice had become more influential than ever, issuing a clarion call to young people.  Nationally, this incurred the wrath of more hidebound elders, who were appalled and  irritated at the social and more changes assaulting their social equilibrium. Long hair,  drugs use, and the rebellious, freestyle attitudes of the "hippie generation" arrived in  Memphis, flaunting openly and unabashedly in Overton Park. A collision between youth  and the establishment was inevitable.

Local Newspapers covered the Shell in depth, focusing on the peculiarities of the patrons.  Run-ins with the police were common, and headlines trumpeted these confrontations.  Noise level complaints from area residents and clashes with security brought out a virtual  army of police. Concert promoters and the Park Commission shared the steep cost of these  security measures.

Then the Park Commission suddenly changed the ground rules. Where rental of the Shell had  been an affordable $300 an additional $2,000 deposit was now required. Adding insult to  injury, the entire cost for the additional security would be borne solely by the promoters  instead of being shared. Outraged, promoters struck back vocally, and antagonism coloured  the relationships.

Though loud and crude, these rock concerts remain some of the best-attended events in  Shell history. Over 50 concerts were scheduled in 1971, drawing 8,000 to 9,000 spectators  listening to popular groups that included the Allman Brothers, the James Gang, Black  Sabbath, Deep Purple, ZZ Top, Jimi Hendrix, and Poco.

Rock's last gasp at the Shell in this era occurred after a 1975 Seals and Crotts concert, which  drew 21,000 people. For an arena designed to seat only 4,000, this scene of potential  disaster was remarkably incident-free. Regardless, the Shell afterwards settled into a  formula of showcasing free events by local artists. Notably absent were regular rock and roll  performances.

September 1982 saw this outdoor facility dedicated with a new name: Raoul  Wallenberg/Overton Park Shell. Wallenberg, Sweden's ambassador to Austria during World  War II, was credited with saving over 100,000 Jews from Nazi concentration camps, and a  plaque was erected in his honour.

In light of this celebration and the lack of any other controversies, Shell supporters  became cautiously optimistic for a secure, if somewhat subdued, future. But a new threat  now came from its next door neighbor, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Their  expansion plans called for a parking lot and the Shell's demise. It was April, 1984, and the  old amphitheater was drawing its last breath.

With demolition already underway, John Vincent Hanrahan, an environmentalist who grew  up attending Shell events, begged for permission to intervene before the historic arena  completely disappeared. This time, Hanrahan was the Shell's saviour, arriving at more  realistic cost estimates to repair the Shell by relying heavily on volunteer labor and  donated materials.

Only in 1985 was the Shell dark and empty as bureaucratic indecision left its continuity in  limbo. Finally, then-mayor Dick Hackett committed to the Shell's refurbishing if a private  group would coordinate an ongoing arts program for it. Hope glimmered briefly, then was  snuffed out again when Hanrahan was killed in an on-the-job accident.

Yet when Hanrahan's brother, Michael, brought a wreath to the Shell stage the day after  his brother's funeral, family members and friends gathered and began sprucing up the  dilapidated setting. That day marked the inception of today's Save Our Shell (SOS).

Volunteer labor, donated materials, community support, and SOS' first president, David  Leonard, ensured the Shell's half-century celebration on September 13, 1986 - 50 years to  the day after its premiere. The phoenix-like Shell was reborn in an atmosphere welcoming  home old friends, as a capacity crowd of over 4,000 watched hundreds of multicolored  balloons drift upwards, signalling the start of the evening's entertainment.

Since that night in 1986, the all volunteer SOS has preserved the Shell from extinction by  tirelessly scheduling hundreds of events and continuous upgrading. Today, the Overton Park  Band Shell is still stands today, and even though the stage and rows of wooden seats have a  new coat of white paint, the feeling of the place vintage 1954 remains. Stand on the stage  and look out into the rows of seats; it is not difficult to imagine a nineteen-year old Elvis  Presley standing on the same stage, or to imagine what he felt when he began to sing. The  stage that first showcased rock and roll and gave extensive exposure to blues recording  artists has contributed to fulfilling Overton's vision "to make Memphis the musical center of  the Mid-South".

The Shell has been preserved from demolition by a "Save the Shell" committee "Sedroc",  located at 1725 B Madison Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38104 by secretary Joel Hurley.  We are fortunate to have this priceless bit of place history today.

SLIM WHITMAN - Country singer born Otis Dewey Whitman Jr. in Tampa, Florida, on  January 20, 1924. After the service in the Navy after World War II, Whitman worked at a  shipyard in Tampa, Florida, and played baseball in the Orange Belt League. In 1948,  Whitman worked for the local radio station and performed at the Louisiana Hayride.

Whitman was on the same bill with Elvis Presley in Elvis' first stage appearance, on July  30, 1954, at Memphis' Overton Park Shell, before a crowd of 2,000. Slim Whitman, who  was managed for a short time by Colonel Tom Parker, was the first country entertainer to  perform at the London Paladium.

The Jordanaires, who seem to have backed almost every  country singer at one time or another, sang backup on some of Whitman's recordings.  In  1957 Whitman recorded "A Fool Such As I" (Imperial 8322), which Elvis Presley would  recorded in 1958. The only song that Whitman ever charted on Billboard's Hot 100 chart  was "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen" (Imperial 1310) in 1957, a song that Elvis Presley  would record in 1971.

In 1979, Whitman produced a TV commercial to support Suffolk Marketing's release of a  greatest hits compilation titled All My Best, which went on to be the best-selling TVmarketed  record in music history, with almost 1.5 million units sold. Just For You (also  under the Suffolk umbrella), followed in 1980, with a commercial that claimed Whitman  "was number one in England longer than Elvis and The Beatles''.

The Best followed in 1982, with Whitman concluding his TV marketing with Best Loved  Favorites in 1989 and 20 Precious Memories in 1991. During this time he toured Europe and  Australia with moderate success.

In late January 2008, a false rumor of his death spread through the Internet, believed to  have been started by an erroneous report posted on the Web site of the Nashville  Tennessean newspaper.  Country singer George Hamilton IV even dedicated and sang a hymn in Whitman's honor at a concert  appearance. In February 2009, his wife of sixty-seven years, Alma Geraldine (Jerry) Crist, died of  kidney failure complications. She had been on dialysis. Whitman has a daughter, Sharon, and a son,  Byron K. Whitman, who is also a performer and has toured and recorded with Whitman on numerous  occasions.

Since 1957 Whitman has lived at Woodpecker Paradise, in Middleburg, Florida, a suburb of  Jacksonville.

In 2009, Whitman's wife of 67 years, Alma Geraldine "Jerry" Crist Whitman, born in Kansas, died at the age of 84. She was a songwriter and embroiderer as well as the daughter of a church minister, A.D. Crist, founder of the Church of the Brethren. Whitman and his wife had a daughter, Sharron Beagle; and a son, Byron K. Whitman, who is also a performer and music producer who has released a number of recordings and who toured and recorded with his father on numerous occasions. They had two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Slim Whitman died of heart failure on June 19, 2013, at age 90, surrounded by family at Orange Park Medical Center in Orange Park, Florida.

CHARLIE TORIAN JUNIOR - August 1977. Elvis had died on August 16, 1977, his body was  placed in the entrance hall of Graceland and an estimated ninety thousand people all tried  to catch one last glimpse of him lying in state on August 17 before his funeral the next day.

At Elvis Presley's request, a military honour guard from the 164th Air Transport Group of  the Tennessee Air National Guard stood at attention in white gloves and leggings and  polished silver helmets while surrounding the casket.

Also on hand was a Memphis Police Department honour guard from the nearby South  Precinct. And one of the Memphis Police Department sergeants in that honour guard was  that little boy backstage at the Overton Park Shell on July 30, 1954, now all grown up,  Charlie Torian Junior.

JULY 31, 1954 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black performed at Bon Air Night Club (8:00pm), 4862  Summer Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee. This gives Dixie Locke the opportunity to see where  Elvis has been playing when they go back to pick it up.

"We quickly had to learn two or three other tunes that would kinda fall into the pattern",  recalled Scotty Moore, "Tweedlee Dee" was one, and I think we did "Shake, Rattle And Roll"  a lot before we ever recorded it. There were a couple of others, I can't recall them right  off hand. We probably got it up to where we had about four of five songs".

"Most of it was up-tempo. "Maybellene" was another one. They would have other bands on  - so we'd only do two or three songs or so. We didn't have any kind of repertoire at that  time. We were lucky if we were getting a hundred dollars a night between us".


''Presley's first release on Sun has just hit the marked'', read the two-page typed sheet by Marion Keisker, which called attention to the earlier discovery of B.B. King, Rosco Gordon, Little Junior, the Prisonaires, and the Howling Wolf by the company's ''youthful president'' and cited ''reports from key cities indicating that it is slated to be one of the biggest records of the year. Music Sales Company, Memphis distributor for SUN, sold over 4,000 of the disc in the first week, something that no record has done since Patti Page's across-the-board, 1950 number-one pop hit ''TENNESSEE WALTZ''. It went on to call attention to the ''three-way'' appeal of the record, pop, hillbilly, and rhythm and blues, declare that with this new signing the label was poised to ''move strongly into the country and western field'', and to point out that the nineteen-year-old artist had ''never done any professional work before his recording stint for SUN''. At his ''big-show'' debut, however, at Overton Park Shell, ''with such established artists as Slim Whitman, Billy Walker, and the Louvin Brothers, his reception was overwhelming, with autograph seekers refusing to go home until he gave an impromptu performance of the two top-riding numbers backstage''.


Elvis Presley reaches the Memphis country charts on August 28. "That's All Right" is the first  significant chart action for Sun Records since the blues hits "Bear Cat", "Feelin' Good" and  "Just Walkin' In The Rain" in the summer of 1953.

Recording activity at Sun Records now slows as the label concentrates on marketing Elvis  Presley. When activity picks up at the end of the year, the emphasis has shifted from blues  to country.

Carl Perkins observed, there were many country boys who were playing with the blues  feel and working on the hybrid that later became known as rockabilly music. On of those  who had independently worked up a similar style of course, was Elvis Presley. "The first  time I heard Elvis was when my wife, Valda, was in the kitchen", recalled Carl Perkins to  Dave Booth, "and she said, 'Carl, that sounds just like y'all. Hearing him do "Blue Moon Of  Kentucky" set a flame afire in me and oddly enough I'd been doing that song too". It did not  take long before Carl Perkins found out that the singer of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky"  recorded for the Sun label.


Elvis Presley perform at the Whirlaway Club, located a mile west on 3092 Lamar Avenue, toward  the Mississippi River. Where the Eagle's Nest catered to rednecks, country and western fans  and pickup truck drivers from across the state line in Mississippi, the Whirlaway Club drew  the Yuppie crowd. Though that term had yet to be invented - the college students, young  lawyers and businessmen and their decreed dates. The pedigreed crowd.

Wanting to improve his lot in (entertainment) life, Elvis Presley approached the  Whirlaway's owners, Johnny and Jean Ogden, about playing the Whirlaway Club. "We  mostly played jukebox music", said Jean, "but now and then we would have life music. We  had been down to the Eagle's Nest to hear Elvis Presley and we liked him, but when he  came to us after one performance, we had to turn him down". "I told him, 'Elvis, honey,  we love you and we love your music, but we just don't want the crowd you would bring  here".


When Elvis Presley came over to Bob Neal's house the morning after the Overton Shell show,  Elvis Presley was ecstatic. "This isn't just another singer", Helen Neal remarked to her husband, "this boy is different". Helen Neal urged her husband to manage Elvis Presley. She  pointed out that she could work until they made some money. Although they had five sons,  Neal's radio job and the money he earned booking Elvis Presley would be enough to get them  through the hard times. Elvis Presley liked the idea, because Bob Neal had a reputation for  honestly and integrity. He was also the best-known promoter in Memphis.

In the afternoon, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black may have a brief appearance on  Doug Poindexter's regular KWEM radio show in West Memphis, Arkansas. Dixie Locke and  Scotty Moore's wife Bobbie accompanying them.

By August 1, 1954, after feverish efforts to garner publicity, radio time and distribution for  Elvis' record, Sun Records reported that "That's All Right" had sold more than six thousand  copies. Sam Phillips finally had a strong regional artists. The sales of "That's All Right" and  "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" so buyed Phillips' hopes for a major country music booking, that  he contacted the "Grand Ole Opry" to inquire about an appearance for Elvis Presley.

Sam Phillips made a call, but found that "Grand Ole Opry" chief talent scout Jim Denny was  reluctant to book Elvis Presley. The reason for Denny's refusal remains a mystery. He was  not the confirmed country purist that some have suggested. In fact, during the 1940s,  Denny modernized the "Grand Ole Opry" by introducing new singing stars and deemphasizing  the old string bands that had dominated the "Opry". This ended the barn  dance atmosphere of the "Grand Ole Opry", turning it into a highly commercial vehicle for  country musicians. As a result of Denny's foresight, such country stars as Hank Williams,  Webb Pierce, Ray Price, and Faron Young made their mark at the "Grand Ole Opry". Denny  was always looking for new, undiscovered performers. He was a shrewd judge of talent,  but Denny's decisions were often influenced by other musicians. Many Memphis musicians  were critical of Elvis Presley, and most of the country acts appearing on the "Grand Ole  Opry" were hostile as well. Malcolm Yelvington, one of Elvis' strongest supporters, urged  other musicians to leave him alone. When Yelvington and his Star Rhythm Boys played at  Eagle's Nest, he was impressed with Elvis' intermission sets. "I never played with Elvis, but  I certainly admired him and his music", Yelvington reflected. Finally, however, although  the negative opinions had severely prejudiced Denny, Phillips' perseverance paid off, and  Jim Denny agreed to audition Elvis Presley.

Memphis Press Scimitar, August 7, 1954


Elvis Presley performed at the gym in DeKalb, Arkansas, and was paid forty dollars. Dr. Carl  Nelson, now president of the Texarkana College, but in the mid-fifties, as a teenager he was  known to his friends and followers as Cheesy Nelson. He had a band called Cheesy And The F lying Saucers, Nelson was sixteen at the time.

On this day at the Melody Record Shop, a  record salesman approached Nelson and gave him a record to listen to. It was "That's All  Right", by some new singer out of Memphis named Elvis Presley. Nelson bought the record,  took it home, put it on the turntable and began playing it. Before the evening, he could  imitate Elvis Presley.


The Billboard, the national music trade weekly magazine, founded in 1894, in its "Review  Spotlight" section, critiqued Elvis' first single (SUN 209), calling Elvis "a "potent new chanter  who can sock over a tune for either the country or the rhythm and blues markets... A strong  new talent. (Hereafter, The Billboard will be referred to simply as Billboard).


Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black was the headline attraction at the Eagle's Nest  Club (9:00pm) in Memphis, located at Clearpool on 4090 Lamar Avenue, operated by John  Lepley, a local discjockey. The club sometimes booked larger acts from the Hayride or the Opry but mainly consisted of local acts.  The regular house band for the evening was Tiny Dixon's combo  (Including at one time or another future Stax Records founder Jim Steward and future Sun  producer Jack Clement).

Tiny Dixon was a great local player, a very large man with hands the size of a Virginia Ham. He played a Fender Esquire guitar and played primarily western swing. Hugh Jeffries was a pedal steel player that played jazz.

Sleepy-Eyed John Lepley's club charged a $1.00, plus 20-cents local tax admission, and a  sign on the wall proclaimed: "Don't wear a tie unless your wifes makes you". It was a  boisterous club with a large dance floor and a noisy, hard-drinking clientele.

Elvis Presley  had trouble with his performance that night, according to Ronald Smith. The doors opened  at 8:30 p.m. The mean entertainment featured dancing to Dixon's music from 9:00 p.m. to  1:00 a.m.

Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black split $15.00 for their brief two- or  three-song performances that were presented several times during the evening. Elvis  Presley sing that night "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky".

After Elvis Presley finished the spot at the Eagle's Nest, for example, Elvis Presley drove  quickly to the Bel-Air Night Club at 1850 South Bellevue to sit in with Doug Poindexter and  the Starlite Wranglers. Because of Elvis' popularity, Poindexter allowed him to appear as a  guest vocalist. Poindexter realized that the future of country music was rockabillyoriented.

"I knew Elvis was something special by the way people reacted to him. We drew  a lot of people when Elvis sang", Poindexter observed.

For the next six months, the Eagle's Nest played a very important part in launching Elvis'  career. When they first appeared at the Nest in August, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill  Black were little more than musical filler during intermission when the house band took a  break.

As their popularity grew over the next few months, they would gradually play the  Eagle's Nest more frequently, especially on the evening that were advertised as "ladies  nights".

Hugh Jeffreys and Turman Enlow began working together at the Eagle's Nest where Elvis Presley briefly became their intermission attraction. According to Thurman Enlow, ''We'd play 40 minutes and then Elvis, Scotty and Bill would play for 20 minutes while we took our break'', said Enlow. ''When we were playing, Elvis would sit by the piano on a bar stool. I'd say, 'Elvis, could you get me a beer'? and he'd get one. I'd say, 'Don you want one'? and he'd say 'No, no'. Finally, one night, he said that he would have one so I bought him a beer and he drunk half of his class and poured the rest into my glass and said, 'I don't see how you can drink that slop'''. 

THE EAGLE'S NEST - The Eagle's Nest (Now named as American Club) is a single-story, cinder  block roadhouse located ten miles southeast of central Memphis on the intersection of Lamar  Avenue and Winchester Road on 4090 Lamar Avenue (US Highway 78) at its junction with  Clearpool Circle Road.

The club was part of a recreation complex known as Clearpool that  also included a swimming pool, restaurant, ballroom, and teen club. Along with the Rainbow  Lake recreation area, which was also on Lamar, Clearpool was one of only two public  swimming pools in the Memphis area. 

The nightclub itself consisted of a single room upstairs  above the Clearpool Room, had men's and women's dressing rooms, approximately 40 feet  wide by 90 feet long.  It seated about 350 and had a two-tier floor plan, and the stage was  located at the end of the room opposite the main entrance. The low-slung ceiling aided in  broad-casting the music from the stage to the back of the crowd.

One can gain a good idea of the high-spirited atmosphere at the Eagle's Nest by the club's  motto: "Don't wear a tie unless your wifes makes you". Like the Bel-Air Night Club, The  Eagle's Nest is still situated on the edge of Memphis. The Eagle's Nest was named in honour  of Delta airlines pilots who drank here; it was close to the municipal airport. The Garavelli  family had built the entertainment complex, later selling it to the Pieraccini family owned  and operated Clearpool. Members of the Pieraccini family are among those who remember  a very young and shy Elvis Presley taking the stage before a fidgeting crowd and crooning  ballads.

The Eagle's Nest drew from all classes of people, though mostly middle-class whites. They  came from Memphis and from nearby north Mississippi. With mixed drinks taboo at the  time, patrons were well familiar with "brown bagging" - buying your booze at a liquor store  within the Parkways in Memphis (outside the Parkway and the rest of Shelby County was  totally dry at the time), putting it in a brown paper bag, then entering the nightclub and  ordering Cokes, 7-Up or water as a "chaser", or a "set-up". These would run a dollar-fifty,  up to two dollars.

On weekends, the Eagle's Nest would be filled to capacity, the dance floor jammed. As one  musician once noted, "Memphis is the dancing-est town in all the United States". Smoke  filled the room. It was loud. It was, in short, a sort of juke joint.

Today the Lamar and Winchester intersection is in an industrial and warehouse district in  Memphis. Little remains of the Clearpool entertainment complex, except for the  Americana Club at 4090 Winchester Avenue. The Americana Club house band is now (1995)  the famous Memphis hillbilly band, Bubba Feathers and the American Club Band, and  promotes its connection to Elvis Presley and the fabled Eagle's Nest, and often hosts live  country-and-western music. Bubba Fathers is the son of rockabilly singer Charlie Feathers.

Houseband of the Eagle's Nest 1954 to 1956.  From left to right: Jim Stewart, fiddle; Howard McNatt, fiddle; Joe Bracciante, fiddle; Sleepy Eyed John (mic); Ed Morgan, drums; Dan McHugh, bass; Tiny Dixon, guitar; Hugh Jeffreys, pedal steel; Ted Enlow, piano; Ginny Ford, vocals. >

SLEEPY-EYED JOHN LEPLEY - Memphis disc jockey at radio station WHHM who booked the  Eagle's Nest ballroom, where Elvis Presley made some of his first professional appearances  in early 1954, earning $10 a night.

In many ads the club is called "Sleepy-Eyed John's  Eagle's Nest. According to legends, Lepley tried to become Elvis Presley's manager, but  Scotty Moore beat him to it. (There is a little confusion as to whether Lepley once served  as Elvis' manager.

In several sources it has been alleged that in the early 1950s Lepley  booked Elvis Presley into some clubs in Memphis). Lepley was one of the first disc jockey’s  to play "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", the country side of "That's All Right" in July 1954 on  radio WHHM. Lepley recorded several songs on Sun Records in April 1952. Singer Johnny  Horton charted a song in 1961 called "Sleepy-Eyed John" (Columbia 41963). 


Johnny Cash married Vivian Liberto, and they set up home on Tutwiler Avenue in Memphis.  Cash's older brother Roy had found him a job selling appliances, but Cash was, by his own  admission, "the world's worst salesman. I spent more time in my car listening to the radio  than I did knocking on doors".

Cash's trips into the black neighborhoods of Memphis gave him his first exposure to black  music. "I heard a lot of blues. I became friends with some of the musicians''.

''I met Gus  Cannon one day on the porch of his home. He had written "Walk Right In" way back, and he  was sitting there playing the banjo. I sat and listening to him, played with him, and it got  to be quite a regular affair with me".

Once exposed to black music, Johnny Cash became a convert, spending money he did not  have at the Home Of The Blues record store at Beale Street in Memphis. "Southern blues,  black gospel, black blues, that's my favorite music", he told Bill Flanagan. "People like Pink  Anderson, Robert Johnson, Howlin' Wolf, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe... Blues In The  Mississippi Night Alan Lomax did, is my all-time favorite album", recalled Johnny Cash.

Memphis Press Scimitar, August 14, 1954 >


Elvis Presley at the Earl's Hot Biscuits, located at 179 Crump Boulevard, Memphis. After shows at the  Eagle's Nest, Elvis Presley would join his band members and their wives at Earl's and order up hamburgers,  fries, and milk shakes. One of the carhops who waited on Elvis Presley's during that period in the early  1950s was W.W. Herenton, a future mayor of Memphis.

"He looked different", Mayor Herenton said. "He  dressed different. He cut his hair different. He was a unique, fun-loving guy. He hadn't become famous yet,  but I remember him clearly".

EARL'S HOT BISCUIT - Across the street from K's Drive-In was Earl's, another Memphis landmark known   as "King Of The Homemade Hot Biscuits". Located at 179 Crump Boulevard, the restaurant's huge neon   sign, towering thirty-five feet in the air above the restaurant and drive-in area, featured a cook rolling  biscuits.  Though the restaurant was busy serving country cooking at all hours, it was busiest late at night, when it   became a hangout for young people. What ether Elvis Presley continued to go the Earl's in the 1960s, is   anyone's guess. In 1964 a second Earl's opened in West Memphis, Arkansas. Though the original restaurant   has closed, the second location still draws a crowd.


When Elvis Presley reported to work, he finally asked his boss, James Tipler, for two hours off that afternoon   to audition for the "Opry". Elvis Presley was feeling guilty about pursuing his off-hours career because   Vernon Presley, despite the success of Elvis record, continually chided his son that a guitar man was "a no   account drifter who would never make anything of himself". Despite the elder Presley's discouragement,   there was a missionary zeal in Elvis Presley, a commitment that led to more shows at the Eagle's Nest and   other local Memphis clubs that drew increasingly larger crowds.

AUGUST 10, 1954

Sam Phillips of Sun Record Company send a letter of two pages to Miami, created two   weeks after Elvis signs with Sun. This letter from Sam Phillips to Marvin Leiber of Pan American   Distributors in Miami really delves into the lingo of the day pertaining to radio formats and racial divides in   the South, in pleading for people to pay attention to Elvis's first single: ''…please make sure that all the   Rhythm and Blues and Hillbilly Jockeys have a copy of the record… also all the pop boys that cater   somewhat to the ''cat'' trend on their pop shows… it is being bought by operators for all locations, white and   colored… one leading retail store called to tell us, everybody from white teenagers to old colored people are   buying it with equal zest''. 

And: ''Here in Memphis… both sides are being played daily on every disc jockey show on every station. As   soon as they hear it, they buy it. We’ve got a big one; don’t let it get away''!

What’s hilarious and remarkable about this particular letter is that nowhere, not once in this two-page letter,   does Phillips mention the words ''Elvis'', ''Presley'' or ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''! That's because Elvis was a   total nobody, an absolute zero at this point, so why bother mentioning him? Phillips just kept calling it ''this   record'' and ''209'', and just once mentions ''That's All Right'', a song that would change the world.

The Goodwyn Institute Auditorium >


From 1953 until the end of 1954, the ''Saturday Night Jamboree'' was a Memphis stage show held every Saturday night at the Goodwyn Institute building's second floor auditorium at 127 Madison Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee. Founded by local guitarist and early morning radio entertainer Joe Manuel, whose band shared the jamboree's hosting duties with future Sun Records session bass player Marcus Van Story and his band.

Manuel also booked local talent on the program and broadcast live by KWEM Radio, with musicians like Ronald Smith, Kenneth Herman, Eddie Bond & The Stompers, Johnny and Dorsey Burnette, Paul Burlison, and of course Charlie Feathers all part of the show on one more occasions.

When the single ''That's All Right'' (Sun 209) had been released and hotted in Memphis since the release in July 1954, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black accepted an invitation to perform on the famous Saturday Night Jamboree led by Ray Sexton on August 14, 1954.

Cash Box magazine ran Sam Phillips' press release virtually unchanged as a brief feature on August 14, along with a ''B'' (''Excellent'') review near the top of their ''Rhythm 'N' Blues Reviews'', that cited ''a feeling vocal with more than a backer-upper bass and guitar support... Listening and re-listening convinces one that the deck could make a great deal of noise''.

Sleepy-Eyed John Lepley >


Sleepy-Eyed John Lepley called Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black at home appeared  as an unadvertised added attraction with Jack Clement's eight-piece band at the Eagle's  Nest. It is known that Elvis Presley played with Clement at this time, and Elvis reportedly  made at least one unadvertised appearance with Jack Clement at the Bel-Air Club.

Jack  Clement agrees that Elvis Presley appeared as the "floor show" during at least one of his  engagements at the Eagle's Nest. Lepley offered Elvis Presley $15 for the night. Since Elvis  Presley was paid $5 to $10 for most guest spots, he readily agreed.

Doug Poindexter and the  Starlite Wranglers were the Eagle's Nest house band that week, but Clement's band filled in  on Monday nights. Clement hadn't drawn well and Lepley hoped that Elvis Presley might  attract a larger crowd.

"Elvis got paid ten dollars a night to sing during intermissions", said Jack Clement. "Sleepy- Eyed John booked the bands then and he thought that western swing music was about to  take over, with things like Ray Price was doing. He put together a similar band, eight  pieces, and I was the singer".

"On those nights when Elvis was to appear, my job, at the end of one of our sets, was to  introduce Elvis Presley. And Elvis would always tell me, just before my introduction, 'Give  me a big buildup, Jack'. And when I was up there singing, often Elvis would be down at my  table, hitting on my girlfriend. But I turned out to be the better man in that match. I  married her!".

"Even when he wasn't singing, Elvis would hang out at the club. I got to know him fairly  well. It's amazing how people went for him. A lot of people didn't understand what it was  Elvis was doing, but when he was on stage, they jammed the dance floor, bot to dance,  but to stand there and watch him and clap. The people were totally sold on him".

"Elvis played his own rhythm. Some notes might change from one playing to another, but it  seemed to work for him", recalled Jack Clement.

Ace Cannon was also playing at the Eagle's Nest when Sleepy-Eyed John was hosting this  show. He remembers one night Dewey Phillips brought a young man in and asked if he  could sing with the band. "We let him sing - I don't remember what - and he did fine. The  crowd loved him", Ace recalls.

"But I thought at the time he would be a flash in the pan". He said as much at his day job at  Laye Bowler. Years later, his co-worker were still laughing at his prediction. Ace, too,  became a recording artist who achieved international fame. He continues playing today in  Mississippi gambling casinos in Tunica.

Elvis Presley also agreed to pleasy two local benefits during the month. He appeared at  the Kennedy Hospital, located at 1030 Jefferson Avenue, forty-five minutes from the  center of Memphis. The B'nai Brith Society benefit attracted a boisterous but appreciative  audience. For almost a year, Eddie Bond, Kenneth Herman, and Ronald Smith had played  at Kennedy Hospital. It was one of the easiest places to play, because they were always  looking for free entertainment. Elvis Presley was prepared to perform country songs, and  he was surprised when a number of people requested "That's All Right". Equally flattering  was the fact that some of the patients had seen Elvis Presley perform at Doc's Bar in  nearby Frayser.

According to Monte Weiner, a classmate of Elvis Presley at Humes, whose mother booked  the shows at Kennedy. "My mother brought a group out once a month, and she knew of  Elvis through me, though I didn't really know him in school. He did it for several months in  a row, the first time was right after the record came out, and they'd bring people on  stretchers and wheelchairs down to the little room where he was going to perform. I  remember they rolled the beds out into the middle of the floor, and I watched their faces  while he and his group were performing, doing something completely different from  anything I had ever heard before. The patients couldn't move at all, but their facial  expressions, it was like they were trying to clap by their facial expressions. It was a really  remarkable thing, that's all I can tell you".


Elvis Presley performed a benefit show prior to a baseball game at Bellevue Park at the  corner of Bellevue Boulevard and South Parkway in Memphis. During the show they "passed  the hat" to raise money for Gene Marcotte, an ex-Humes High School student who was  confined to a wheel chair. Elvis Presley's portion of the show brought the crowd to its feet  with a rousing version of "That's All Right".

Billboard's regional Country and Western chart for Memphis shows Elvis Presley, Scotty  Moore, and Bill Black at number 3 with "Blue Moon Of Kentucky".


Sam Phillips of Sun Record Company letter to Boston, created just three weeks after Elvis  signs with Sun, two pages. This letter from Sam Phillips to Cecil Steen of Records, Inc. in  Boston starts off mundane enough, discussing routine business matters, but then takes off  with Phillips’ first mention of all the ingredients: “Elvis Presley,” “Sun 209,” “That’s All  Right” and “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”

Finally Phillips is plugging his artist by name! And he gets a little confrontational with the  distributor: “We are a little perturbed over the fact that you have not seen fit to order on  any of our releases in the past several months.”

Calling the Elvis single “a tremendous number that is a two-side, three way hit,” Phillips  cites both Billboard and Cash Box magazines in tagging the release “unique and exciting.”  And he utters those great, prescient words, “We hope you will get on this number,  because it is a big one, and we ought not to let it get away''.

Sam Phillips splurged what little money he could put together on a halp-page ad in the same weekly trade: POP - HILBILLY - R&B - A HIT! ALL THREE WAYS ELVIS PRESLEY'S ''THAT'S ALL RIGHT'' AND ''BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY'' read the headline in a slanted cross between cursive and block lettering, with a cash register ringing up crudely rendered dollar signs. ''Not in history'', Sam wrote with the same blunt directness that typified all of his promotional efforts, ''has a record sold as many records in less than two weeks (in the Memphis territory) as the new and different release just out by ELVIS PRESLEY.... Operators have placed it on nearly all locations (white and colored) and are reporting plays seldom encountered on a record in recent years. According to local sales analysis, the apparent reason for its tremendous sales is because of its appeal to all classes of record buyers. In fact, the owner of one large local retail store says: ''I BELIEVE PEOPLE WHO NEVER BOUGHT A RECORD ARE BUYING IT. I NEVER SAW ANYTHING LIKE IT!''.


Sam Phillips returned home from a promotional trip with a big surprise. Elvis Presley, Scotty  Moore and Bill Black were going to audition for the "Louisiana Hayride". Sam Phillips  mentioned that the "Hayride" booking agency had also secured two other club appearances,  and the money earned from these jobs would pay for the trip. It didn't matter whether or  not they were booked on the "Louisiana Hayride", the audition would result in at least two  club dates. The group drove this day the four hundred miles to Shreveport, Louisiana, and  Elvis Presley performed briefly before Horage Logan and the "Hayride" staff. It was an  awkward moment. Elvis Presley was extremely nervous, although he had no trouble singing  "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky". After the audition, Sam Phillips and Logan  talked at length. The "Louisiana Hayride" agreed to an appearance by Elvis Presley, but not  until he performed at the other dates the "Hayride" had booked for him (the "Hayride"  needed to book Elvis Presley in nearby clubs to guarantee expenses). This was fine with Sam  Phillips, who urged Logan to send observers to the dates the "Hayride" had booked for Elvis  Presley in Texas.


With ''Blue Moon'', one of the first true discographical dilemmas arrives. The sticker on the label reads "Wednesday Night, 8/19", but August 19, 1954 was a Thursday. Perhaps Sam Phillips was simply re-using tape and the sticker refers to another session by a totally different performer from 1953, when August 19 was a Wednesday.  There is (or was) a full tape of "Blue Moon" cuts somewhere in the RCA-Victor archives.

It's also possible that ''Blue Moon'' was recorded at the next session (September - It's sound would be consistent with that theory), since it seems more than odd that Elvis' second full SUN session should have focused on a single song with virtually no commercial potential.

In the Outtakes section of Ernst Jørgensen's book, 'A Life in Music', the '50's Box' version of ''Blue Moon'' is listed as take 2 and the 'Platinum' version as take 3. The '50's Box' booklet says take 1 so at least one of the notes are wrong. There's no doubt that the two false starts and the complete outtake released on 'Sunrise' are equivalent to "track 3" (not take 3) on the tape box notes. This is the only complete take that comes close to the original time note of 2:20. So the only question is which one is take 1 and which is take 2 of the 'Platinum' and '50's Box' versions. It ought to be more likely that typing errors occurred in just one place rather than two. If this is the case, take 1 is on the 50's Box and take 2 is the version released on 'Platinum'.

As could be heard on the outtake as released on 'Sunrise' back in 1999, the original SUN ''Blue Moon'' tape appears to be very worn. It was recorded at lower level as well and this does result in a lot of tape hiss that has been left intact on 'Elvis at SUN' in order to preserve the signal and ambiance. On the other hand, the dropouts have been repaired. The result is a big improvement over the 'Sunrise' outtake and of course an even bigger improvement over the previous BMG master.


SUN SESSION 3: AUGUST 15-19, 1954

A big fan of Ivory Joe Hunter, Elvis Presley suggested to Sam Phillips that they try and record a Hunter ballad. After a great deal of discussion, they selected Hunter's rendition of "Blue Moon". When Elvis Presley was still at Humes High, Ivory Joe Hunter had a minor hit with "Blue Moon", although it was not as popular as Billy Eckstine's 1948 million-selling rendition. Elvis Presley brought Hunter's MGM recording into the Sun studio and played it for Sam Phillips, remarking that Hunter had a country way with the blues. Elvis Presley's own recording of "Blue Moon" was more in the Ivory Joe Hunter mould, a nice substitute for Elvis botched later version of "Tomorrow Night". Sam Phillips didn't like the results. He was disturbed by the soft, melodic style of "Blue Moon", and shelved it. Several takes of "Blue Moon" were recorded. These will remain unreleased by Sun.

01(1) - "BLUE MOON" - B.M.I. - 0:37
Composer: - Lorentz Hart-Richard Rodgers
Publisher: - Frances Day and Hunter Limited
Matrix number: - None - FS Take 1 -FS Take 2 - FS Take 3 -Tape Box 8
Recorded: - Between August 15-19, 1954
Released: - August 3, 2012
First Appearance: -  FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-16 mono
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-2-8 mono

The first tune of "Blue Moon" was a warm-up. Changing the style and musical direction of the session, "Blue Moon", a Rodgers-Hart song and a 1949 pop hit for Mel Torme, was a ballad suitable to Elvis' tastes. Sam Phillips remembered how the girls swooned over the song when Elvis Presley sang it at the Eagle's Nest. In the end, though, Sam considered the vocal on "Blue Moon" too inferior for commercial release.

01(2) - "BLUE MOON" - B.M.I. - 2:58
Composer: - Lorentz Hart-Richard Rodgers
Publisher: - Frances Day and Hunter Limited
Matrix number: - None - Complete Take 4 - Tape Box 8
Listed as Take 1 on The Complete 50s Masters 
Recorded: - Between August 15-19, 1954
Released: - June 1992 
First appearance: - RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rom PD 90689-5 mono
Reissued: August 3, 2012  FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-17 mono

Steve Sholes Session Notes

Box 8
1. Blue Moon 2:53 Pretty Good
2. Blue Moon 3:11 
3. Blue Moon 2:23 (Breakdown False Start)
4. Blue Moon 2:39 (M)

01(3) - "BLUE MOON" - B.M.I. - 3:24
Composer: - Lorentz Hart-Richard Rodgers
Publisher: - Frances Day and Hunter Limited
Matrix number: - None - Complete Take 5 - Tape Box 8
Listed as Take 2 on The Complete 50s Masters 
Recorded: - Between August 15-19, 1954
Released: - July 14, 1997
First appearance: -  RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 07863 67469 2-1 mono
Reissued: August 3, 2012   FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-18 mono

01(4) - "BLUE MOON" - B.M.I. - 0:52
Composer: - Lorentz Hart-Richard Rodgers
Publisher: - Frances Day and Hunter Limited
Matrix number: - None - FS Take 6 - FS Take 7 - Tape Box 8
Take 6 Listed as Take 3 on Sunrise 
Recorded: - Between August 15-19, 1954
Released: - February 5, 1999
First appearance: - RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 07863 67675  mono
Reissued: August 3, 2012   FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-19 mono

01(5) - "BLUE MOON" - B.M.I. - 3:00
Composer: - Lorentz Hart-Richard Rodgers
Publisher: - Frances Day and Hunter Limited
Matrix number: - None - Complete Take 8 - Tape Box 8
Recorded: - Between August 15-19, 1954
Released: - February 5, 1999
First appearance: - RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 07863 67675  mono
Reissued: August 3, 2012   FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2-20 mono

They spent hours doing take after take of "Blue Moon" in an eerie, clippity-clop version that resembled a cross between Slim Whitman's "Indian Love" and some of the falsetto flights of the rhythm and blues "bird" groups, the Orioles, the ravens, the Larks. After it was all over, Sam Phillips wasn't satisfied that they had anything worth releasing, but he never uttered a word of demurral for fear of discouraging the unfettered freshness and enthusiasm of the singer.

Original Scotch Magnetic tape box of ''Blue Moon''. >

"I had a mental picture, as sure as God is on his throne I had a mental picture of what I wanted to hear, certainly not note for note, but I knew the essence of what we were trying to do. But I also knew that the worst thing I could do was to be impatient, to try to force the issue, sometimes you can make a suggestion just one bar and you kill the whole song. And sometimes you can be too cocky around people who are insecure and just intimidate them.

I mean, as far as actually saying, 'Hey, man, don't be scared', I've never told anybody in my life not to be scared of the microphone, don't go calling attention to the thing you know they are already scared of. I was never a real forward person, because I didn't give a damn about jumping out in front to be seen, but I tried to envelop them in my feelings of security", recalled Sam Phillips.

Surely the influence of Slim Whitman, Elvis' co-star on the "Louisiana Hayride", is here. The butt of countless jokes, Whitman is unique in country music history in that he sold millions of records without influencing anyone - except, it seems, Elvis Presley. Elvis' falsetto is unlike Slim's; its a chilling, clue falsetto, closer in some ways to Jimmie Rodgers. Lorentz Hart had put several sets of words to Richard Rodger's melody before he emerged with "Blue Moon" in 1935. It sold over one million copies of sheet music and had been recorded so prolifically that its hard to know where Elvis Presley heard it. Tellingly, Elvis skips the bridge and the final verse that contains the happy ending, neatly transformed the 32-bar pop classic into an eerie 16-bar blues. Why did Phillips let Elvis record songs like this and "Tomorrow Night" without any intension of releasing them? He said he didn't have the heart to tell Elvis to stop.

01(6) - "BLUE MOON" - A.S.C.A.P. - 2:44
Composer: - Lorentz Hart-Richard Rodgers
Publisher: - Frances Day and Hunter Limited
Matrix number: - F2WB-8117 - WP Master Take 9 - Tape Box 8
Recorded: - Between August 15-19, 1954
Released: March 23, 1956
First appearance: - RCA Victor (LP) 33rpm LPM-1254 mono
Reissued: August 3, 2012   FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-1-9 mono

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar (Martin Dreadnought 18)
Buddy "Blake" Cunningham - Drum Sound



Disc jockey Rufus Thomas, deeply entranced on black WDIA radio station, began playing  "That's All Right" on his show. The black listeners ate it up. Things were going well until  David James, the white program director, ordered Thomas to quit playing Elvis Presley,  saying that "he's stealing the back man's music".

"Music belongs to everybody", Rufus Thomas claims. "How can you steal something that  belongs to everybody? All Elvis did was to begin singing songs black folks were singing. He  wasn't stealin' nuthin'". "What he did was to give black folks' music an injection like it  never had before! Now, more white folks began listening to rhythm and blues than ever  before", Thomas recall. "That's what Elvis did!".

Elvis Presley entertains Vaneese Thomas, then 3, who called him her ''boyfriend'', December 7, 1956. >