CONTAINS
 
1954 SUN SESSIONS 3
October 1, 1954 to December 31, 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
 
For Elvis Presley's Biography (See: The Sun Biographies)
Most Elvis' Sun tracks can be heard on the playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on YouTube < click
OCTOBER 1954
 
Carl Perkins' first official recording session at Sun Records is held this month. 
 
OCTOBER 1, 1954 FRIDAY
 
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black appeared at the Eagle's Nest Club (9:00pm) in  Memphis with Tiny Dixon and the Eagle's Band. When Elvis became established in the  Memphis scene, Sam Phillips suggested he consider hiring a manager.
 
Managers then usually  did little more than arrange bookings and handle whatever promotional work there might  be. Elvis hated talking business because he felt ignorant and incapable. He avoided putting  himself in a position of ridicule and preferred to let others deal with contracts, figures, and  money matters. Up to know, he had let Sam Phillips handle any business arrangements, but  Phillips wasn't a manager.
 
More than anyone, it was Vernon Presley who pushed Elvis to find additional business  representation, urging him to find someone soon. An attorney might have made the most  sense, but southerners have tremendous distrust of lawyers, convinced they are out to use  the law to cheat you.
 
Sam Phillips suggested Elvis Presley and his parents meet with Bob Neal, a Memphis disc  jockey who worked at radio station WMPS.
 
The release of "Good Rockin' Tonight" and "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine" continued  Sam Phillips' pattern of combining an uptempo song with a country tune. Since it was  necessary to constantly promote Elvis' records, Sam Phillips again took off in his car for Shreveport, Louisiana. For weeks, Sam Phillips had been negotiating for Elvis Presley to  appear regularly on the "Louisiana Hayride". Elvis' August 1954 audition had prompted  Horace Logan to keep track of the younger singer. Finally, Logan and the "Hayride" management decided that the time was right to bring Elvis Presley onto the show. Just as  Sam Phillips was attempting to confirm a date with the "Hayride" management, the "Grand  Ole Opry" called. Sam Phillips was ecstatic; the "Opry" was also interested in booking Elvis Presley. The sudden appearance of "Good Rockin' Tonight" on the Memphis charts, and the  general reaction to the record in the industry had finally convinced Jim Denny to  showcase Elvis Presley. A contract specifying Saturday, October 2, 1954, as the "Grand Ole  Opry" appearance date was mailed to Sam Phillips. He signed it and sent it back. It had  been a real challenge to place Elvis Presley on the "Opry", but apparently they were now  ready to take the young singer seriously. Why Jim Denny decided to book Elvis remains a  mystery. Not only was Denny hostile to Elvis' music, but he was personally abusive to Sam  Phillips. Perhaps Denny just couldn't ignore the chart action of Presley's Sun recordings.
 
OCTOBER 2, 1954 SATURDAY
 
''That's All Right'' b/w ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' Sun 209 hold their places in the Memphis area, Elvis Presley left the Nashville chart after one week. But he will be back later this month.
OCTOBER 2, 1954 SATURDAY
 
Elvis Presley, Sam Phillips and Marion Keisker, drove in Sam Phillips' four-door black 1951 Cadillac, followed by  Scotty Moore, Bill Black and the instruments in another car, from Memphis to Nashville for Elvis Presley's only  appearance on the "Grand Ole Opry" radio show. Elvis didn't own a suitcase, so Marion Keisker loaned him hers.  He packed most of his wardrobe into the suitcase. 
 
When Elvis Presley arrived at the Ryman Auditorium, home of the "Opry", he was taken a back by its shabby appearance. Country music's premier music palace was a run-down  building badly in need of repair. "You mean this is what I've been dreaming about all these years?", Elvis Presley  asked Marion.
 
Upon entering the auditorium, Sam Phillips determined that Elvis Presley was to appear on Hank Snow's segment  of the "Opry". The three-hour live "Grand Ole Opry" show began promptly at eight o'clock, and it was divided into carefully contrived segments to appeal to a wide variety of country music listeners. As Elvis Presley nervously  paced backstage, he met and had first conversation with the legendary Hank Snow:
 
"What's your name?"
"Elvis Presley, sir", Elvis responded.
"No", Snow bellowed. "What name do you sing under?".
"Hello, Hank, I'm Sam Phillips, and this kid sings under a name that's dynamite''.
 
Hank Snow walked away shaking his head. He chuckled to himself at the kid's mismatched,  shoddy clothes. What was country music coming to when a new act couldn't afford boots, a  hat, and a bright-coloured country outfit? The kid wore a funny-looking sports coat accentuated by the strangest pair of pants he'd ever see.
 
Marion Keisker sat out in the audience. "Who'd you come to see", she asked a woman next  to her. "Marty Robbins", the woman said. "I never miss Marty Robbins. Who'd you come to  hear". "Elvis Presley", Marion said. "Who?". "After this show, you won't ask me again", Marion told the woman.
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
LIVE APPEARANCE FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
FOR WSM RADIO 1954
 
RYMAN AUDITORIUM, 116 FIFTH AVENUE, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
OCTOBER 2, 1954 SATURDAY
SESSION HOURS: 10:15 AND 10:30 P.M.
PRODUCER - JIM DENNY
 
Less than three months after the release of "That's All Right", Elvis Presley made his only scheduled appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, a weekly radio broadcast. The Opry originated from Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and was heard locally over WSM radio from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. Beginning the previous June, a half-hour portion of the show was also carried to 40 states over the CBS radio network from 8:30 to 9:00 p.m., Central Time.
 
Elvis Presley appeared between 10:30 and 10:50 p.m. on the Hank Snow segment sponsored by Kellogg's cereals. Also appearing in this portion of the show were Eddie Hill, with whom Scotty had previously recorded, and the Davis Sisters. According to Snow, Elvis Presley sang only "Blue Moon Of Kentucky".
 
Given that three artists shared the fifteen-minute segment, along with a couple of commercials for Kellogg's cereal, the one-song limit for Elvis Presley is quite likely.
 
It is part of the Elvis legend that his Opry performances did not go over well with either the country music crowd to the Opry's management. It is certain that he was not offered a return engagement.
 
As Elvis Presley prepared to go on stage, he looked at the script and saw that Kellogg's cereals sponsored his part of the show. During the two hours before the "Opry" show began, Jim Denny's role as the show's talent coordinator revealed his touchy, temperamental nature.
 
Just before he went on, Elvis Presley was approached by Denny, who announced that Elvis Presley could sing only songs he had recorded for the Sun label, something that Elvis Presley had not planned for.
 
Surprised by Denny's request and general attitude, it was Elvis Presley's first introduction to the bullying manner of the powerful, Machiavellian entertainment promoter, and he was disturbed by Denny's arrogant, abrasive demeanour.
Hiding his disappointment, Elvis Presley vowed to make the most of his appearance on the "Grand Ole Opry". Sam Phillips tried to reason with Denny. Some of Elvis' records, Phillips argued, were not suited for a country audience. If Elvis Presley could perform traditional country songs, he would establish a broad base among country music fans. Bill Black jokingly suggested that Denny was out of touch recent trends in country music. It was Black's way of letting Jim Denny know that he had slighted Elvis Presley. Denny insisted that he wouldn't allow an artist to sing a tune that he had not recorded.
 
An example of the tradition-bound management that ran the Opry - which still had a ban on drummers because Denny and others believed that drummers belonged more to burlesque than country music - it was Elvis' first taste of conservatism and censorship in the country music world.
 
Grant Turner announced the Hank Snow segment of the show, sponsored by Royal Crown Cola.
 
01 - "ELVIS INTRODUCED BY HANK SNOW"
Recorded: - October 2, 1954 Probably 
 
02 - "BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Bill Monroe
Publisher: - Peer International Corporation
Recorded: - October 2, 1954 Probably
 
 Rumours suggest could be recorded on tape, but we have no proof.
 
When Elvis Presley finally appeared, Elvis wanted to sing "Good Rockin' Tonight", but Jim Denny believed that it was too raucous for the "Grand Ole Opry". When Elvis Presley had asked Denny if he could sing it, Jim Denny responded, "We don't do that nigger music around here". Elvis Presley had been nervous and stiff during his performance, and Denny reminded Elvis Presley that he was still an amateur. Elvis Presley was enraged over Denny's criticism. Enroute to Memphis after leaving Nashville, both cars stopped for gas. Elvis Presley took his suitcase into the men's room and began brushing his teeth. After finishing, he flung the toothbrush into the toilet and left his suitcase in the men's room.
 
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)
 
Setting the story straight. Following Elvis' guest appearance, the "Elvis legend" holds that Jim Denny, the Opry's producer, told Elvis that he ought to "go back to driving a truck". Elvis was reportedly so upset that he left his show clothes in a service station rest room on the way back to Memphis. He very well may have left the clothes, however. Bill Denny, son of Jim Denny, stated in an interview in Billboard of August 22, 1987, that this story about his father is misleading. Elvis Presley did not go over well with the Opry crowd, true enough. However, when Denny discussed this with Elvis Presley, he never discouraged Elvis from performing. Sam Phillips, Faron Young and Buddy Killen, who is a respected music publisher but at this time was a Nashville musician, all corroborate this version of the story.
 
"You had a strictly hardcore country audience", recalled Scotty Moore, "and we only did one song. If we could've done the whole act, like we were doin' in high schools, whatever, it might have been a different story, you just don't know.
 
But we just did one song. It was a hardcore country audience and you're doin' a revered song "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" by a revered artist, so you know there's gotta be a little jaundice, I would think, put on that". 
 
"I took him to the Grand Ole Opry, and was very important", recalled Sam Phillips. "I called my friend Bob Neal who was a discjockey, and Bob started booking Elvis out on shows and things. Then I took care of the Opry with Jim Denny. Jim Denny was head of the Artists Service Bureau and I knew Jim so I went over there to see him and play the record. He said, "I've heard it, Sam, I just better not put him on right now because we just might do somethin' to The Grand Ole Opry and it's so traditional...". I told him I understood that and then I went into this bit about younger people and I said, 'These people that used to drive to town in a wagon goin' to the courthouse square and everything... the world has changed, Jim, we got jet aeroplanes!'. I said, 'Man. The Grand Ole Opry' - I grew up on it, I loved it!'. He said, 'I know you do and hey, it's not... the door is not closed. I think it's an interesting record but I don't wanna get sponsors cancelled...".
 
"Elvis heard us sing on the Grand Ole Opry", said Gorden Stoker, a member of the Jordanaires. "A thirty minute portion of the Opry was broadcast on NBC and every Saturday night we were on that part of the broadcast. Ninety percent of the time we would song a spiritual. That is a fast moving type of religious songs. Of course, that was really Elvis' first love. He loved spiritual religious singing, especially the stuff where you can snap your fingers and move. Of course he was brought up in a church to sing that type of song. He had been listening to us on the Grand Ole Opry and we did a program in Memphis with Eddy Arnold. He came back behind the stage to meet us. At that time he was on the Sun label, and he said, 'If I ever get a major recording contract, I would like to work with you guys".
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
GRAND OLE OPRY - The Grand Ole Opry is America's longest-running radio program, the Opry  known as the "Mother Church of Country Music". It began in 1925, soon after Nashville  station WSM first broadcast as the voice of the National Life and Accident Insurance  Company. This Nashville-based firm was then expanding rapidly, moving beyond its initial  base of sickness and accident policies into the more profitable life insurance field. Along  with classical ensembles and pop dance bands, country musicians like Dr. Humphrey Bate's  Augmented Orchestra supplied early WSM programming and helped attract prospective  policyholders.
 
The father of the Opry was WSM program director George Dewey Hay, who came to the  station in November 28, 1925, a few weeks after Bate's group arrived. Earlier, Hay had  helped announce Chicago's WLS Barn Dance, a program that inspired country radio  jamborees nationwide. By the year's and he had organized WSM talent into a regular  Saturday-night show known simply as "the barn dance". Early performers included Hawaiian  groups, minstrel acts, and military bands, but old-time string bands like Bate's soon  prevailed. 
 
Using strategies typical of the genre, Hay shaped the Opry into a folksy but highly  commercial production that appealed to a broad-based audience of rural and small-town  listeners scattered throughout the nation. He gave string bands names such as "Possum  Hunters" or "Fruit Jar Drinkers" and urged them to wear countrified costumers. As master  of ceremonies, Hay himself became the Solemn Old Judge, a stage persona with deep  roots in American vaudeville and minstrelsy. In short, he made the Opry a variety show  with a rural southern accent.
 
About 1927 Hay named the program the Grand Ole Opry in an impromptu parody of the  National Broadcasting Company's Music Appreciation Hour, a classical program carried by  WSM each Saturday just before the barndance show. "For the past hour", he announced,  "we have been listening to music taken largely from the grand Opera, but from now on we  will present the Grand Ole Opry". Hay then introduced harmonica player DeFord Bailey, a  black man whose musical portrait of a speeding locomotive symbolized the Opry's  homespun realism, reminiscent of an authentic rural barn dance or husking bee.
 
Fan letters, commercial sponsors, and rising insurance income convinced National Life to  continue the Opry despite opposition from proper Nashvillians, who saw it as a threat to  the city's genteel reputation. As WSM's power climbed from 1,000 watts in 1925 to 50,000 in 1931, the program's radio audience expanded dramatically, and the Opry's position  became secure. WSM's clear-channel signal, broadcast through a new, superbly engineered  tower built in 1932, blanketed most of the nation, and the show steadily gained supporters in almost every state. By 1936 the Opry generated as much as 80 percent of  the station's weekly mail. Southerners were the mainstay of the Opry audience, and WSM  naturally played up southern themes in Opry costumes, band names, radio dialogue, and publicity. But the program's national audience increased pressures toward variety; whit in  a decade, cowboys, western swing bands, and honky-tonk singers surpassed old-time string  bands as the dominant acts in the Opry roster.
 
The Opry's listenership widened further after 1939, when the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco  Company, makers of Prince Albert smoking tobacco, began sponsoring a half hour of the  show on a 26-station NBC network. By 1952 this web had expanded to a coast-to-coast chain of 176 stations boasting a weekly audience of 10 million. Although WSM originated  many other country or pop programs for network broadcast, the Prince Albert Show was by  far the most visible and the longest running, lasting until 1961. Network airtime was especially important in sustaining the Opry through the late 1950s, a period in which most  other radio barn dance withered in the face of competition from network television and  the conversion of country radio stations to rock programming.
 
Along with the program's network connection, aggressive promotion, stylistic diversification,  and the cultivation of a star system, television also helped the Opry thrive. Since the mid- 1950s Opry performers have appeared on numerous network TV specials, as well as on  syndicated programs produced by WSM or by independent firms. In 1978 the Public  Broadcasting System aired portions of the Opry itself for the first time, and in 1985 the  Nashville Network began carrying a live, half-hour segment to cable-television viewers across the nation.
 
Early in the Opry's evolution, a live audience became vital to the broadcast, and a popular  stage show developed around the radio program. To gain ever greater seating space, the  show moved from WSM's studios (located in the National Life Building in downtown Nashville)  to a succession of local halls before settling in the Ryman Auditorium in 1943. The Ryman,  located at 116 Fifth Avenue, tel, 615/254-1445, which was originally called the Gospel  Tabernacle, was built in 1892 with funds raised by riverboat captain Thomas G. Ryman. The  gallery and wooden pews are today intact, and a reverential air still permeates the joint.  During the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Ryman had free telephones in the lobby, which  Colonel Tom Parker used to book his next acts. The TV series "The Johnny Cash Show" was  telecast from the auditorium from 1969 to 1970.
 
After a 31-year run there, the Opry shifted to the magnificent new Opry House at  Nashville's Opryland theme park, opened in the early 1970s by NLT Corporation, successor  to National Life. The Opryland USA complex now embraces a large hotel and serves as headquarters for the Nashville Network; the Music Country Network; a radio web linked by  satellite; and the General Jackson, a Cumberland River showboat. Since 1983 these  enterprises (including WSM radio but not WSMV-TV, now owned by Gillett Broadcasting)  have been operated by the Oklahoma Publishing Company, of Oklahoma City. Even in these  elegant surroundings, however, the Opry has remained refreshingly informal, belying the  planning each show requires. Announcers reading commercials, artists waiting to be  introduced, and stagehands moving props all create a complex and entertaining spectacle.
 
In addition to drawing millions of tourists, the Opry has nurtured Nashville's music  industry. About 1934 WSM organized its Artists Service, which booked Opry stars into  schoolhouses and theatres, at first mostly in the Southeast. Before long, independent  promoters were working with Opry officials to broaden the range the Opry louts  throughout the United States and abroad. After World War II, as the Opry began to recruit  country music's leading stars, national recording companies began to centre their country  recording operations in Nashville. Independent recording studios built by WSM engineers  or musicians helped produce hits that further established Nashville's reputation as Music  City, U.S.A., a name coined by WSM announcer David Cobb about 1950. Capitalizing on the Opry's popularity, Nashville-based music publishers furnished song material for stage  shows and recording sessions and helped promote Opry artists' career.
 
It was on the Grand Ole Opry radio program on October 2, 1954, that Elvis Presley, Scotty  Moore, Bill Black, Sam Phillips, and Marion Keisker drove to Nashville from Memphis in two  cars. In one of the biggest bloopers in music history, Jim Denny suggested that Elvis Presley go back to driving a truck. After the performances Elvis Presley was upset by the  lack of audience response. Backstage, Ernest Tubb told the young singer "not to worry, you  have done a fine job and the audience just doesn't know". Years later, Elvis Presley told Hank Williams Jr. that when he walked out on stage all he could think about was that this  was where Hank Williams Sr. had once played.
 
For more than 60 years the Grand Ole Opry has survived not only changes in media and  corporate ownership but also transformations in sounds, styles, and repertoires, reflecting  the adaptation of a rural-based music to an increasingly urban society. Today, the Opry is a showcase for almost every type of country music, including honky-tonk, bluegrass, oldtime,  cowboy, Cajun, and country-pop, all of which continue to enjoy widespread popular  favour. As art and as enterprise, the Opry remains country music's most enduring  institution and one of the most significant in the history of American popular  entertainment. During the day it is still open for tours, although the displays of  memorabilia, some Johnny Cash gold discs and faded photos of Opry stars, are pretty  threadbare.
HANK SNOW - Nicknamed as The Singing ranger, country singer born Clarence Eugene Snow,  in a small town in Eastern Canada called Liverpool, in the province of Nova Scotia, on May 9,  1914. He lived with his parents and three sisters and went to school there until he was eight  years old.
 
At the age of 8 Hank Snow became the victim of a broken home, two of his sisters  were sent to an orphanage and the third and oldest sister went to work in a shoe factory. Hank was more or less the fortunate one and went to live with his grandparents, but the  increasing longing for his beloved mother caused Hank to run away from his grandparents  and go live with his mother who at this time was employed as a housekeeper in Liverpool.
 
Shortly after this, Hank's mother re-married, and with his mother, Hank moved to a little  fishing village 75 miles away as Lunenberg. Hank was practising with the guitar with a new record from Jimmie Rodgers. Working as fish plants, on boats, in the woods, as a newsboy,  delivery boy, lobsterman, salesman. Within a few years, Hank Snow first landing a radio  station on CHNS in Halifax, and eventually, in 1936, on the strength of his own selfpromotion  coming up with a recording contract with RCA's Canadian division, He was  signed by Hugh Joseph and recorded two sides he had written, "Lonesome Blue Yodel" and "Prisoned Cowboy", as Hank, the Yodeling Ranger.
 
Hank Snow got married in 1936, his wife, Min, was working as a chocolate dipper at six  dollars a week, and despite the recording contract and Hank's Canadian fame their son,  Jimmie Rodgers Snow, was born in the charity ward of a Salvation Army hospital. Snow played his first engagement at the Gaiety Theater in Halifax, for three dollars a day, three  performances, which was a dollar each. Make his first trip in 1944 to America to  Philadelphia, where a fan of his, Jack Howard, had lined up two weeks' worth of personal appearances. In 1946, Hank Snow finally move to the United States and worked for radio  station WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia. It was at that point, perhaps because of his longtime  fascination with western movies, that Hank, the Singing Ranger, found himself in Hollywood, a career decision which he still seems to view with a mixture of perplexity and  disgust. Completely disgusted and discouraged in 1948, he let his band go and moved to  Dallas, Texas. Besides, as always, he had his wife and son with him. It was in Texas that he  finally met Ernest Tubb. It was Ernest Tubb who introduced Hank Snow to the Grand Ole  Opry in 1950, just three years before they originated the annual Jimmie Rodgers Memorial  Day celebration in Meridian, Mississippi.
 
In 1954 Hank Snow became a client of Colonel Tom Parker. On January 7, 1949, Hank Snow  debuted on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, with the same lack of audience enthusiasm  that Elvis Presley got in 1954. During the 1955 Hank Snow Jamboree tour, Colonel Tom Parker signed a contract with Elvis Presley, creating a conflict in which Snow threatened to  sue Parker. Shrewdly, Parker forced Snow out of the picture when he unrealistically  suggested they both pool all of their money to buy Elvis Presley's contract from Bob Neal.  Elvis Presley, who was being managed by Bob Neal, had signed an agreement with Snow for  the Jamboree tour. In early 1955 Snow unsuccessfully tried to persuade Steve Sholes of  RCA Records to buy Elvis Presley's contract from Sam Phillips for $10,000. It was Hank Snow who introduced Elvis Presley during Elvis' appearance on the Grand Ole Opry on  October 2, 1954. Hank Snow originally wrote and recorded in Chicago "I'm Movin' On" (RCA  Victor 0328), which Elvis Presley recorded in January 1969 at American Recording Studios  in Memphis. Hank Snow died on December 20, 1999.
JAMES RAE DENNY - James Rae Denney (he changed his last name to Denny) was a long-time manager of the Grand Ole Opry Artists Service who went on to become one of the most successful talent agents and song publishers in country music history. His skill as a promoter and developer of talent played a vital role in the growth of country music in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Born in the poor Buffalo Valley region of Tennessee , on February 26, 1911, Denny moved to Nashville and found work at age sixteen as a mailroom clerk for the National Life and Accident Insurance Company, owner of WSM Radio and the Grand Ole Opry. While rising through the ranks of the insurance company’s accounting division, Denny found himself increasingly drawn to sidejobs backstage at the Opry. When the opportunities presented themselves in the late 1940s, he eventually took over as director of WSM’s Artists Service, or booking department, while also serving as house manager for the Opry.

During his tenure at the Opry, Denny dealt with dozens of major country music acts, record label executives, and top show promoters such as A. V. Bamford, Dub Albritten, Jim Halsey, Oscar Davis, X. Cosse, and others to promote Opry performers in venues nationwide.

Denny formed Cedarwood Publishing Company early in 1953 with Grand Ole Opry star Webb Pierce, eventually forming a separate company with Carl Smith, also a rising Opry talent. Over the next decade Denny’s staff of writers churned out hit after hit, including “Detroit City,” “Tobacco Road,” and others. In 1955 Denny was voted Country and Western Man of the Year by Billboard magazine. But when he was fired from the Opry in September 1956, amid allegations of conflict of interest stemming from his involvement in booking and publishing, Denny formed the Jim Denny Artist Bureau and signed most of the Opry’s top acts. Three months later, in what was then called the largest individual package sale in country music history, he signed an agreement with Philip Morris Tobacco Company to provide the talent for the Philip Morris Country Music Show. This show simultaneously made a fortune for Denny’s talent agency and helped boost the popularity of country music across America. Denny’s company booked most of the top country acts of the day, including Pierce, Smith, Minnie Pearl, Red Sovine, Hank Snow, Goldie Hill, the Duke of Paducah, Moon Mullican, and many more. By 1963 the Denny Artist Bureau was booking nearly 4,000 country shows annually.

Denny was a hard-nosed businessman whose charismatic personality and devotion to his acts and songs earned him respect and devotion—sometimes tinged with fear—from artists, writers, and others with whom he did business. He and Pierce, who quit the Opry a few months after Denny was fired, prospered from their investment in Cedarwood, and branched out to acquire several radio stations.

At the time of Denny’s death, on August 27, 1963,  Cedarwood and the Jim Denny Artist Bureau were outstanding in their respective fields. Promoter Ernest “Lucky” Moeller quickly took over the artist bureau, but without Denny’s guiding force it withered away within a few years. Denny’s sons Bill and John managed Cedarwood until its sale to Mel Tillis in 1983. Jim Denny was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1966.

- Al Cunniff

OCTOBER 2-3, 1954 MIDNIGHT SATURDAY/SUNDAY
 
After the show Elvis Presley and the group wandered down the hill to 720 Commerce Street in  Nashville, to the location of the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, where they were scheduled to  play the famous Midnight Jamboree (the jamboree went on the air live from the record store  at the conclusion of the Opry broadcast). Elvis Presley appeared on Ernest Tubb's radio  program "Midnight Jamboree", the same night after he made his only appearance on the  Grand Ole Opry.
 
Someone introduced Elvis Presley to Ernest Tubb, and Tubb, the most gracious and  courteous of entertainers, listened patiently as the nineteen-year-old poured out his love  for Tubb's music and told him that it was his real ambition to sing country music.  He said,"They tell me if I'm going to make any money, though, I've got to sing. What should I  do? I said, 'Elvis, you ever have any money? He said, 'No sir'. I said, 'Well, you just go  ahead and do what they tell you to do. Make your money. Then you can do what you want  to do", recalled Tubb.
 
Scotty Moore, Bobbie Moore, Evelyn and Bill Black drove back to Memphis that night. Sam  Phillips wanted to listen to a piano player who had been recommended to him, so he got  rooms at a motel for himself. Marion Keisker and Elvis Presley could spend the night in  Nashville. Elvis went into the club with them to hear the piano player, but quickly turned  around and went back outside. Marion Keisker followed after him and asked why he had left.  He told her it wasn't the type of place his parents would want him to be. He told them to go  ahead and have a good time. He would wait outside on the sidewalk. "It was unthinkable to him that everyone didn't love their parents - didn't want to do everything for their parents",  says Marion Keisker.
OCTOBER 3, 1954 SUNDAY
 
Sam Phillips called Pappy Covington, the talent booker for the "Louisiana Hayride. They  settled on a date less than two weeks away.
 
On the way back to Memphis, Elvis Presley took Marion Keisker's suitcase into a service  station bathroom. Not until they got home did they realize they didn't have the suitcase.   It  took three or four days for them to retrieve the suitcase, which contained Elvis' entire  wardrobe, from the service station.
 
OCTOBER 4, 1954 MONDAY
 
Elvis Presley's new single ''Good Rockin' Tonight'' / ''I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine'', officially released on September 25, was issued on October 4 in the Memphis area with a general release six weeks later, according to the Memphis Press-Scimitar.  
 
Why Sam Phillips decided to wait another six weeks to release the record outside Memphis may have more than one explanation, one not necessarily excluding the other. The first single was still receiving a lot of action, spreading to new territories, and Sam might not have wanted to confuse anyone at this stage - disc jockeys, retailers, or consumers - with a new record. A second record might steal attention away from the record that was still growing. Another reason could be the financial burden of having to produce thousands of new records, put them into distribution, not knowing how many he would sell, and how many would be returned, while still having to keep chasing his money for the first record.
 
Either way, the record was initially well received and sold an impressive 4,000 copies in less than two weeks. The airplay and sales significant, but it was still primarily ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' that got the most plays. The trade papers showed action on the first single in New Orleans, Nashville, Walnut Ridge, Utica, and obviously, Memphis, where Sleepy-Eyed John had his protege charted at 1, 3, and 7 with ''That's All Right'', ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', and ''Good Rockin'' Tonight''.
OCTOBER 6, 1954 WEDNESDAY
 
Back in Memphis, Elvis Presley parked his car a block away from home, in front of a  deserted, condemned building. He got out, slamming the door behind him and walked into  the debris-strewn area. Elvis picked up a large board and suddenly began smashing it  violently into the ground. He swung the board wildly until it was reduced to splinters.
 
That night, Elvis Presley performed for a combination "ladies night" and "fan club night" at  the Eagle's Nest Club (9:00pm) in Memphis. Admission for the ladies was fifty cents.  Sleepy-Eyed John Lepley gave Elvis Presley a rousing introduction, and mentioned his successful appearance on the "Grand Ole Opry". The disappointment over the "Opry" show  had ended. Perhaps the "Opry" appearance was successful after all, Elvis Presley reasoned.  His friends told him it was well received. It was at the Eagle's Nest that Elvis Presley received his warmest welcome. The crowd always clapped loudly when Elvis Presley sang  "Good Rockin' Tonight".
OCTOBER 1954
 
The Perkins Brothers Band headed for Memphis. The office manager, Marion Keisker,  apparently told them to go away but they met Sam Phillips on the street outside the Sun  studio. Carl Perkins was impressed by Phillips' car and his matching suit and shirt.
 
For his  part, Sam Phillips encountered someone whom he later described as "one of the greatest  plough-hands in the world. There was no way Carl could hide that pure country in him. Although pure country", as Phillips noted, "can mean an awful lot of soul".
 
"Sam later said he felt sorry for me", recalled Perkins. "He said I looked like I would have  died if he hadn't listened to me. And I might have. He said he liked "Turn Around" although  he later said that he wasn't knocked out by anything else I did". 
 
Sam Phillips remembers seeing more promise than fulfilment. "He was a tremendous honky  tonk picker. He had this feel for pushing a song along that very few people had. I knew  that Carl could rock and in fact he told me right from the start that he had been playing  that music before Elvis came out on record. But I was so impressed with the pain and  feeling in his country singing though, that I wanted to see whether this wasn't someone  who could revolutionise the country end of the business. That didn't mean we weren't  going to rock with Carl. That was inevitable because he had such rhythm in his natural  style".
 
OCTOBER 8, 1954 FRIDAY
 
All that is generally known about this show comes from a Billboard item (October 23, 1954):  "Presley, with his guitar and bassman, Scotty and Bill, made an appearance recently at Texas Bill Strength's nitery in Atlanta...". The article also mention Elvis' Grand Ole Opry and  Louisiana Hayride appearances of October 2 and 16, and it infers that this show may have  come between those two.
 
In October 1954, William T. Strength was a radio personality in Memphis, but earlier in the  year he was a disc jockey at WEAS in Decatur, a suburb of Atlanta.  WEAS, on Ponce de  Leon Avenue, boasted that it was "Georgia's Most Powerful Independent Station - 10,000  watts at 1010". (The 1010 was the stations spot on the AM dial). Texas Bill owned the  Silver Slipper, a roadhouse in Conley, which was little more than a wide spot on State Highway 42 south of Atlanta. The club was a quarter mile north of the General Depot, a  huge Army complex The September 1954 Atlanta yellow pages advertised that the club  offered dancing Friday and Saturday nights. Thus, if Elvis Presley played the Silver Slipper  in October, as is believed, it could not have been on a Saturday because of his schedule.  Also, October 8 is the only open Friday during this period. Unfortunately, thorough searches through the newspapers from Atlanta and vicinity have uncovered no trace Elvis  Presley in the area at this time. Still this is one of the few Friday nights in this brief period  for which Elvis is unaccounted.
 
OCTOBER 9, 1954 SATURDAY
 
Elvis Presley was back in Memphis to join Sleepy-Eyed John on stage at the Eagle's Nest Club  (9:00pm) in Memphis. The performances at the Eagle's Nest, only a week after the "Opry"  appearance, not only renewed Elvis' confidence, but this show confirmed "Good Rockin' Tonight's" popularity. Not only was the song receiving extensive local radio play, but record  sales were excellent in Tennessee, Texas, and Florida. There were also early signs that Elvis  Presley was much more than a local Memphis phenomenon. Billboard noted in its "Folk Talent & Tunes" column that Bob Neal of radio station WMPS in Memphis was organizing a  tour with Elvis Presley, the Louvin Brothers, and Jim Ed and Maxine Brown.
 
The charts clearly indicate that ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' apparently was the more succesful of Elvis’ first two songs. ''Kentucky'' not just hit the number 1 spot twice, but it also had a longer run in the chart altogether.
OCTOBER 12, 1954 TUESDAY
 
Between his Eagle's Nest performances,  Elvis Presley appeared at the Whirlaway Club, located west at 3092 Lamar Avenue the same  side of Eagle's Nest. Johnny and Jean Ogden owned this one of the hottest night spots in  Memphis. The Whirlaway Club drew the Yuppie crowd, the Whirlaway crowd consisted of students at Southwestern college, young lawyers and a young businessmen and their degreed  dates.  Wanting to improve his lot in life, Elvis approached the Ogdens about playing the Whirlaway.
 
"We mostly played juke box music", Jean Ogden said, "but now and then we  would have live music.  We had been down to the Eagle's Neat to hear Elvis and we liked  him, but when he came to us, 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 in here".
OCTOBER 13, 1954 WEDNESDAY
 
It was ladies night again at the Eagle's Nest as Elvis performed in Memphis night club  (9:00pm). Tillman Franks was managing Jimmy Lee and Country Johnny Mathis when they  were regulars on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana. He wanted to book them  elsewhere, but he needed a replacement. 
 
Tillman Franks called the local red hot disc  jockey, T. Tommy Coutrere at KCIJ and asked him how he could get in touch with "that nigger  with the new records you've been playing". T. Tommy told Franks, "He ain't no nigger. He's a  white boy". Franks was told to call Pappy Covington, who booked acts, and Pappy called Sam  Phillips on a Wednesday asking the availability of Elvis Presley.
 
Three nights later, on October 16, 1954, Elvis Presley made his first Hayride appearance.
OCTOBER 14, 1954 THURSDAY
 
The Commercial Appeal October 14, 1954
PRESLEY TO SING ON RADIO SHOW SATURDAY NIGHT
 
Elvis Presley, our homegrown hillbilly singer, is continuing his swift, steady stride toward  national prominence in the rural rhythm field. Latest honour to come his way is as guest performer with the Louisiana Hayride, to be broadcast Saturday night over KWKH,  Shreveport.
 
Louisiana Hayride is about the second or third most popular hillbilly program on the air.  The tops is Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, which never takes anyone but long-established  stars in the country music field.
 
But Presley has already appeared on Grand Ole Opry - on October 2 - and neither customer nor fellow performers wanted him to quit. It is  unprecedented for Grand Ole Opry to take a performer on the basis of a single record,  which is what Presley had until two weeks ago.
 
Presley, 19, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Presley, 462 Alabama Street and was  graduated from Humes High School in June, 1953. His first record release, for Sun Record  Company of Memphis, backed "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" with "That's All Right", and sold a  sturdy 6,300 discs in Memphis in less than three week.
 
His second record, released two weeks ago Monday in the Memphis market alone, has  already logged an astonishing 4,000 copies of "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine" and "Good  Rockin' Tonight". National distribution is expected to get the Presley name and fame really booming.
 
KWKH's Louisiana Hayride roster at the moment comprises Slim Whitman and band, Red  Sovine and band, Johnny Horton, Jim Reeves and band, Elvis Presley, Jimmy Newman,  Tibby Edwards, Jimmy and Johnny, Hoot and Curley, J.E. and Maxine Brown, Jerry and  Dido Rowley, Jeanette Hicks, Betty Amos, the Circle 6 Ranch Boys, Ginny Wright, Carolyn  Bradshaw, Jack Ford, Buddy Attaway and the Lump Lump Boys, with Bill Walker slated to  join on the 20th.
 
OCTOBER 15, 1954 FRIDAY
 
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black appeared again in Memphis at the Eagle's Nest Club  (9:00pm). After the show the 3 men went to Shreveport, with Sam Philips. Sam had arranged  a try-out on the Louisiana Hayride. After a seven-hour drive, they checked in their hotel,  the Captain Shreve Hotel.
OCTOBER 16, 1954 SATURDAY
 
Billboard, in the "Folk Talent & Tunes" column, reported that Bob Neal of radio station WMPS  in Memphis was planning a fall tour with Elvis Presley, the Louvin Brothers, and Jim Ed and  Maxine Brown. Bob Neal (Hopgood) was a local promoter of country acts, in addition to being  one of Memphis' most popular disc jockey’s.
 
Two weeks after his disappointment at the  Grand Ole Opry, Elvis Presley made his debut appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride" radio  show, broadcast from the Shreveport, Louisiana, Municipal Auditorium over KWKH radio.  More important, this broadcast broadened his market to encompass the area from Virginia to New Mexico and from Florida to Ohio. The show was also carried over 190 radio stations in  thirteen states. Here he found encouragement. 
 
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and Sam Phillips loaded into two cars and drove, a  good seven- or eight-hours ride from Memphis to Shreveport. They left Memphis after  midnight and arrived about dawn. They missed the turnoff at Greenville, Mississippi, because Bill Black had everybody laughing so hard at one of his jokes, and then Scotty  Moore almost hit a team of mules as they struggled to make up the time. Sam Phillips  booked rooms at the Captain Shreve Hotel, the town's finest lodging.
 
They washed their faces quickly (waiting for Elvis, while he was combing his hair), and then they started their round through Shreveport's music scene. They met with T. Tommy Coutrerer, a local DJ at KCIJ Shreveport, who played Elvis' songs on his radio show. Tommy Coutrere was recently involved in a car accident and still recovering from his leg amputation. Undaunted, he cheered the boys with stories and promised to spread the message about their evening concert. 
 
Next, they visited Pappy Covington, the grandfatherly booking agent and manager of the Hayride building. He gave the boys the feeling to be rising stars (what they were, as it turned out).
OCTOBER 16, 1954 SATURDAY
 
Sam Phillips stopped by Stan's Record Shop at 728 Texas Street, Shreveport, just around the corner from the  auditorium, where they chatted with Stan Lewis, a prematurely white-haired twenty-seven-year-old veteran  of the music business who had started out supplying five jukeboxes from the back of his parents' Italian  grocery store for sale Elvis' records.
 
Stanley J. Lewis, born July 5, 1927, and on June 22, 1948 he purchased the J & M Record Shop Number 1   and opened Stan’s Record Shop. Over the next 37 years, the modest store grew into a record empire   comprising six retail stores, a nationwide mail order and distributor service, and three record labels, Jewel, Paula, and Ronn.
 
In the 1950s, he developed a long-lasting friendship with Leonard Chess from Chicago. This resulted in   Chess releasing records by Shreveport musicians, such as: Jimmy and Johnny, TV Slim, Lucky Clark, and   (Stan’s Record Shop employee) Dale Hawkins of ''Susie Q'' fame.
 
In 1964, Lewis began releasing 45s on his own record label, Jewel. Soon thereafter, he founded two   additional labels: Paula and Ronn. Over the next 20 years, Lewis’s labels issued over 1,000 releases. Those   45s, LPs, reel to reels, 8 tracks, cassettes, and compact discs shared some truly classic songs with the world.  Perhaps the most well-known are Toussaint McCall’s ''Nothing Takes The Place Of You'' (Ronn 3, 1967) and   John Fred And His Playboy Band's ''Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)'' (Paula 282, 1967).
 
Of those additional 998 releases, Lewis’s labels preserved in wax the sounds of many Shreveport/North   Louisiana musicians including, Banny Price, Tom & The Cats, The Uniques, The In-Crowd, Nat Stuckey,   Bill Bush, Five By Five, Family Tree, Rogue Show, The Bad Habits, Bobby Patterson, and Rev. Brady L.   Blade.
 
At the same time, Lewis sustained the careers of many veteran rhythm and blues performers with releases by   Jerry McCain, Peppermint Harris, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Ted Taylor, Little Johnny Taylor, Roscoe Robinson,   and Fontella Bass. Then there's the nearly 400 gospel records by the likes of The Violinaires, The Brooklyn   Allstars, Soul Stirrers, Rev. Willie Morganfield, Rev. Johnny “Hurricane” Jones, and Rev. C. L. Franklin   (father of Aretha).

Elvis Presley meanwhile drifted over the auditorium. It was bigger than the Opry, with spacious dressing rooms for the stars and a large common dressing room on the second floor. The folding chairs on the floor could be taken up for dances or basketball exhibitions, and the balcony curved around on either side of the stage, giving the room a natural echo.

He walked out on the stage with his eyes fixed on the floor, looked up once briefly as if measuring the crowd, and than walked back to the hotel. The Negro shacks in the Bottoms, just a few blocks from the grand auditorium entrance, were not much different than the ramshackle structures of Shakerag, in Tupelo, or the primitive shotguns of South Memphis.

For his unitial Hayride performance, Elvis Presley appeared early in the evening in a special segment that promoted new talent and was sponsored by Lucky Strike cigarettes. Elvis sing both sides of his Sun release during a spot that lasted about five minutes. Both Horace Logan, the Hayride's program director, and Tillman Franks, manager of KWKH Artist Service, recall that Hayride performances were done in two parts, and on this first night, they agree that Elvis Presley appeared on both sections.

"The first show was a little slow, it was a country music audience that was used to listenin' to traditional country", said D.J. Fontana. "I think what they did was after the first show they went home and told their kids about it, all about the new boy down there that they should go see. So the next thing you know all the kids started comin' in and that helped out quite a bit".

Tommy Sands, another frequent guest on the "Hayride", remarked, "Elvis learned to work an audience. With his excellent voice and commanding stage presence, he became a local favourite". The "Louisiana Hayride" turned out to be a pleasant experience. As soon as Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black walked into the Municipal Auditorium, Horace Logan made them feel at home. A tall, slender, grandfatherly gentleman, Logan had an intuitive feeling that Elvis Presley was the forerunner of a new type of country music. As Elvis Presley prepared for the "Hayride" show, Logan talked for almost an hour with him about the distinctive appeal of his records. There was no doubt this calmed Elvis Presley prior his first "Hayride" show.

The same night, E.H. "Boss" Crump, the eighty-year-old mayor and political leader who ruled Memphis for the first half of the twentieth century - manipulating the black vote while guaranteeing segregation to white supporters, guiding the city's eastern expansion away from the Mississippi and the black ghetto's - died in his sleep at his mansion on broad, treelined Peabody Avenue in Memphis. Big changes were coming, and not just in Memphis.

THE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE - Weekly variety program originating on KWKH Radio in Shreveport,  Louisiana. By the end of World War II, country music was enjoying an unprecedented international popularity.  Record company sales soared to new heights, and more and more  radio stations were broadcasting country music. By the fall of 1949, Billboard magazine  estimated that there were no less than 650 radio stations which aired live country music.  Changes in scheduling were made, and instead of restricting the broadcasting of country  music to the early morning hours (as had been done in the early commercial years of  country music), prime time was now partially devoted to this highly sailable commodity.
 
Among the barndance radio shows which were instituted during the postwar period was  Shreveport's Louisiana Hayride, which proved to be one of the most significant offshoots of  this country craze. Louisiana Hayride was first broadcast on April 3, 1948, and within a  few months' time, Hank Williams had joined the program; he remained in its cast until the  following June (singing his classic rendition of "Lovesick Blues" on his closing night). Over  the years, Louisiana Hayride grew in prominence and boasted such national personalities  in the entertainment field as Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, David Houston, Johnny and  Jack, Webb Pierce, Elvis Presley, Jim Reeves, Red Sovine, Slim Whitman, Hank Williams,  Faron Young, and many, many others. The basic different between Louisiana Hayride and  the Grand Ole Opry was a substantial one. In principle, only established stars were invited  on the Opry. The Hayride, on the other hand, welcomed newcomers and accented this  policy to such an extent that it took on the subtitle "Cradle Of The Stars". As a result of  this policy, the Hayride attracted budding young talent from across the nation and began  turning out stars on a monthly basis. The Grand Ole Opry remained the "Palace" of country  music, and most of the Hayride's early top talent left Shreveport to join the cast of  Nashville's No. 1 country show. Many believe that had the Hayride developed the support  services of recording studios, publishing houses, and booking agencies, Shreveport would  have become what Nashville is today - the country music centre of the nation.
 
Another different between the Opry and the Hayride is that while the Opry was (and still  is) essentially an informal stage presentation, the Hayride adhered to a produced format  that fitted the broadcast requirements of KWKH, and was primarily a radio broadcast show. The first superstar of Louisiana Hayride was either Elvis Presley or Hank Williams. It  remains an either-or proposition because Williams had been up and down the ladder of  success, alternating between the Opry and the Hayride, each becoming disenchanted with  the drinking habits of the now immortal star. Elvis Presley provided the key turning point  in the history of the Hayride. He "exploded" on the Hayride stage with a hipswiveling style  of rock "n" roll that attracted thousands of teenagers to the Municipal Auditorium. For  eighteen months they squealed, they stormed the stage, and they swooned. This uncountry- like conduct swept aside the old regulars, and even those who remained tried to  adopt Elvis' mannerisms. As a result, the solid foundation of country music began to  crumble, and the steady customers who came to hear Red Sovine and the Bailes Brothers  drifted away. When Elvis Presley left behind the country and western music world, the old  regulars had also disappeared.
 
Louisiana Hayride was aired every Saturday night until the early sixties when it was  scheduled on a monthly basis. During the decade, performances were made by guest  artists instead of a regular cast, and until 1974 the Hayride was a sporadic production. In  1974 Shreveport businessman David Kent and veteran Hayride master of ceremonies Frank  Page put the show back on a full-time operating basis by building a $750,000 Auditorium- Restaurant complex in Bossier City, Louisiana - across the river from Shreveport, where it  all began. The Saturday-night show is again aired on 50,000-watt KWKH radio. Although  the old format has been retained, Louisiana Hayride is involved in publishing, recording,  and artist management.
Elvis Presley first appeared on the "Louisiana Hayride" on October 16, 1954. He sang both  sides of his first Sun Records release, "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky".
 
Several bootleg records exist of that first night's performance. Elvis was introduced by  emcee Frank Page during the "Lucky Strike Guest Time" segment, which was devoted to  new artists.
 
Because of audience reaction, Elvis, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black were asked back the  following week. On November 6, shortly before their third appearance, Elvis, Scotty, and  Bill signed a contract with KWKH station manager Horace L. Logan to appear every  Saturday night on the "Hayride" for the next year.
 
The contract was witnessed by Vernon  and Gladys Presley. Elvis was paid eighteen dollars for each performance; Scotty Moore and Bill Black were each paid twelve dollars. On September 8, 1955, Elvis signed a new  contract with the "Hayride", to begin on November 12. Again, the contract was for one  year. His pay was upgraded to $200 a night. Because of Elvis' growing popularity in early  1956, which caused him to miss many of the "Louisiana Hayride" broadcasts, he entered  into an agreement to pay the "Hayride" $400 a night for each missed performance.
 
Elvis' one and only commercial for any product occurred on the November 6, 1954,  broadcast of the "Louisiana Hayride". Elvis plugged a company called Southern Made  Doughnuts, singing its jingle: "You can get 'em piping hot after four p.m., you can get 'em  piping hot. Southern Made Doughnuts hit the spot, you can get 'em piping hot after four  p.m.".
 
Reportedly, an acetate of that commercial exists. Elvis' final appearance on the "Louisiana  Hayride" came on December 16, 1956. The performance, at the Louisiana Fairgrounds,  was a benefit concert for the Shreveport YMCA. Close to ten thousand people attende
HOME AWAY FROM HOME - For the next year and a half, Elvis Presley would drop by the  Hayride almost every Saturday night. In early December, Elvis' swiftly rising popularity  prompted Bob Strack (above) of KWKH to write Billboard (December 11, 1954) saying, "The hottest  piece of merchandise on the station's "Louisiana Hayride" at the moment is Elvis Presley,  the youngster with the hillbilly blues beat". In four more months, he would be the program's headline attraction.
 

The Louisiana Hayride was a live variety program that boasted of being the "Cradle Of The  Stars". The Hayride was perceived to be more tolerant of new talent than the Grand Ole  Opry. Hank Williams, among many others, first found fame on the Hayride before leaving  for the Opry. The Hayride was held each Saturday at the Municipal Auditorium on Grand  Avenue. The building could hold up to 3,800 country music fans. General admission was  60-cents for adults and 30-cents for children. A reserved section of seats cost $1.00 for adults and 50-cents for children.

The Auditorium doors opened at 7:00 p.m., and the Hayride was broadcast locally from  8:00 to 11:30 p.m. on KWKH radio. A portion of the show was also carried by 190 CBS radio  network stations in thirteen states concentrated in the South and Southwest as part  of "Saturday Night Country Style". In Memphis, the show was heard at different periods on  either WREC or KWEM at 8:00 p.m. The regular roster for the Hayride included a blend of  established country singers and rising stars with a few comedians mixed in for flavour.
 
Among the entertainers who appeared on the Hayride at this time were Slim Whitman,  Johnny Horton, Jimmy Newman, Tibby Edwards, Jimmy and Johnny, Hoot and Curley, Jim  Ed and Maxine Brown, and Betty Amos. The total budget for each Hayride show was  $1,500.
 
A tall, skinny singer from Shreveport with a television show in Monroe sidled up to the new  sensation, he was barely twenty himself and had been knocked out by Elvis Presley ever  since hearing the first record at Jiffy Fowler's twin City Amusements, a jukebox operation  in West Monroe. "I said, 'Hello, Elvis, my name is Merle Kilgore'. He turned around and  said, 'Oh, you worked with Hank Williams'. I said, 'Yeah. He said, 'You wrote "More And More" (a number-one hit for Webb Pierce in the fall of 1954)''.
 
''I said, 'Yeah'. He said, 'I want  to meet Tibby Edwards". It was the first thing he said to me. Tibby recorded for Mercury,  and he was a star. I said, 'He's my buddy, we room together here in Shreveport". And I  went and got Tibby and introduced him to Elvis. That's how we got to be friends". "I think he scared them a little", recalled Merle Kilgore. "He was really on the toes of his feet singing. I think they thought he was going to jump off the stage. But when he came  back out, he destroyed them - by now they knew he wasn't going to jump off the stage and  beat them, and they absolutely exploded".
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
When Elvis Presley arrived at the auditorium, he went backstage to meet with the announcer, Frank Page. D.J. Fontana, and others on the Hayride staff. Page gave him a rundown on how the show operated. "They knew how many people had become stars by being on the Hayride. I talked to Elvis. He was a little discouraged by the things that had happened so far, about being turned down by The Opry, about not getting kick-started like he wanted to be. I encouraged him and told him to just do his thing".
 
After the meeting, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and D.J. Fontana went to the dressing room so D.J. could listen to the records. They had never performed with a drummer and were looking forward to it, particularly after their reception at the Opry. D.J. listened to the songs, asking questions about what they wanted him to do, offering his ideas. "I figured the best thing for these guys was to stay out of the way", says D.J. "Why would I clutter it up with cymbals? I'll just play the back beat and stay out of their way. They already had the good sound". 
 
That night, Frank Page introduced Elvis Presley and the Blue Moon Boys. With Elvis, Scotty, and Bill standing on stage in front of the backdrop, a thin curtain on which was painted a barn, a wagon, tress, and moss, Page tried to engage Elvis Presley in conversation.  
 
LIVE BROADCAST RECORDINGS FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
FOR KWKH'S LOUISIANA HAYRIDE,  SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA, 1954
 
MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM, 705 GRAND AVENUE AND 
MILAM STREET, SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA
OCTOBER 16, 1954 SATURDAY - VIEWING TIME TV-STATION KWKH
SESSION HOURS: 8:00-11:30 PM
PRODUCER - HORACE LOGAN
 
01 - "NARRATIVE INTRODUCTION TO LOUISIANA HAYRIDE THEME - 0:35
COMMENTS BY FRANK PAGE
Recorded: - October 16, 1954
Released: - 1983
First appearance: - Louisiana Hayride (LP) 33rpm NR-8973 mono
LOUISIANA HAYRIDE
Reissued: - November 2011 MRS (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-1 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956
 
The freewheeling atmosphere at the "Louisiana Hayride" was a tonic for Elvis Presley, and he gave his best performances on the show. When Elvis Presley appeared on his first "Hayride" broadcast, the master of ceremonies, Frank Page, remarked: "Just a few weeks ago a young man from Memphis, Tennessee, recorded a song on the Sun label; and, in just a matter of weeks, that record has skyrocketed up the charts. It's really doing well all over the country. He's only nineteen years old. He has a new, distinctive style - Elvis Presley". Let's give him a nice hand.... Elvis, how are you this evening? "Just fine, how are you, sir?". "You all geared up with your band-". "I'm all geared up!'. "To let us hear your songs?". After a smattering of applause, a nervous Elvis Presley remarked: "Uh, well, I'd like to say how happy we are to be out here.
 
It's a real honour for us to have- get a change to appear on the Louisiana Hayride. And we're going to do a song for you- You got anything else to say, sir?". "No, I'm ready". "We're gonna do a song for you we got on the Sun record, it goes something like this...". Elvis Presley quickly began singing "That's All Right", launching his career on the "Louisiana Hayride". Although everyone had been nervous about the debut show, the program format, the performances, and the music prompted the "Hayride" audience to explode with loud cheers.
 
02 - " ELVIS INTRODUCED BY FRANK PAGE/ THAT'S ALL RIGHT" - B.M.I. - 2:59
Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - HPA5-6101
Recorded: - October 16, 1954
Released: - 1983
First appearance: - Louisiana Hayride (LP) 33rpm NR-8973-2 mono
LOUISIANA HAYRIDE
Reissued: - November 2011 MRS (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIEVES 1954-1956
 
03 - "DIALOGUE" - 0:22
Narration of Elvis' early career Horace Logan interviewed Elvis.
Recorded: - October 16, 1954
Released: - 1983
First appearance: - Louisiana Hayride (LP) 33rpm NR-8973 mono
LOUISIANA HAYRIDE
Reissued: - November 2011 MRS (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-2 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIEVES 1954-1956
 
04 - "BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY" - B.M.I. - 2:06
Composer: - Bill Monroe
Publisher: - Peer International Corporation - Fort Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - HPA5 6101
Recorded: - October 16, 1954
Released: - 1983
First appearance: - Louisiana Hayride (LP) 33rpm NR-8973-3 mono
LOUISIANA HAYRIDE
Reissued: - November 2011 MRS (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIEVES 1954-1956

The first show was an excellent one. Elvis' long nights in small clubs, the constant practice, and even the disappointment of the "Grand Ole Opry" appearance had all helped him evolve into an exciting performer. The "Hayride" audience loved him, and, after his first show, he was a local celebrity. The "Louisiana Hayride" contract called for forty-eight appearances a year with weekends off at the option of the "Hayride". The booking had been done through Sam Phillips, and Elvis was paid eighteen dollars a show, while Scotty Moore and Bill Black were paid twelve dollars each - and the four-hundred-mile drive from Memphis to Shreveport and the lodging and food expenses made it impossible to live on the guarantee. But there were other reasons for singing the "Louisiana Hayride" contract. From October 1954 through December 1955, Elvis' music matured and his stage skills improved because of his many "Hayride" appearances. It was an excellent training ground for the fledgling musician. The total budget for each "Hayride" show was $1,500. Admission was sixty cents for adults and thirty cents for children.

 
During the performance, Frank Page had watched the audience with interest. "The audience was a little shocked", he later recalled. "Scotty's guitar, of course, was different and had a unique sound - one the audience was not quite ready for at the time".
 
05 - "INTERVIEW WITH ELVIS PRESLEY AFTER HIS FINAL APPEARANCES"
Recorded: - October 16, 1954
Released: - 1979
First appearance: - Black Belt Records (LP) 33rpm LP-2 mono
THE FIRST YEAR - RECORDED LIVE
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar (Martin Dreadnought 18)
Scotty Moore - Electric Lead Guitar (Gibson ES 295)
Bill Black - Acoustic Upright Bass (Kay Maestro M-1)
Dominic Joseph Fontana - Drums (Gretsch Round Badge Kit)
Jimmy Day - Steel Guitar
Floyd Cramer - Piano
 
"I took him to the Hayride and Jack Stapp was over there", recalled Sam Phillips. "Jack Stapp who was the programme director. In the meantime, KWKH, The Louisiana Hayride, was calling and Pappy Covington, who was the director of the Artists Service Bureau in Shreveport, was calling, so was Horace Logan, the announcer on KWKH... I told Pappy, who was one of the sweetest guys I ever met, a fine old gentlemen''.
 
''I told him, 'Well, I'm takin' to Jim Denny at the Opry and I'm not puttin' you down, Pappy, but I would like to see Elvis on, not for what The Grand Ole Opry would necessarily do for him, but what maybe we could do for each other".
 
"I'd just like to prove somethin'... that this guy has got appeal, in my opion'. And when he stole that show... I mean he stole the goddamn show at Overton Park, and when you steal from Slim Whiteman, I mean, You're hot". "I'll never forget, when we were down on out first trip to the Hayride and we all stayed at The Captain Shreve Hotel there and we got up the next morning.  We got a big double room because that was the cheapest way we could stay and then we had one smaller room... so basically we were all together there... And Elvis got up and it took him forever to comb his hair. I wanna tell you somethin', if they prepared the airplanes that you take off in every day like he did his hair before he went out the door, then you would never have to worry about it goin' down!".
 
"Every hair was examined thoroughly from every angle! And of course his hair got to be beautiful later on. But my hair was always natural wavy and I've always had a lot of it, and I could go take a bath and run the comb through it and let it dry... I didn't use Brilliantine, none of that crap. But anyway, we had a magnificent time".
 
Marshall E. Sehorn, co-owner of New Orleans' Sea Saint Recording Studio was told of the possible existence of Presley tapes in 1980. He brought it to the attention of his entertainment attorney friend, Jerry C. Wilson, of Atlanta. After three years of labour, travel, negotiations, persuasions, and with much credit to many others, they are delighted to present this fantastic piece of musical history to the world.
 
Unlike his cool reception at the Grand Ole Opry, Pappy Covington, a band leader himself, apparently asked Elvis Presley to join the Hayride almost immediately following his first performance. By October 20, the Memphis Press-Scimitar was announcing to their stunned home folk that Elvis was a regular. Covington also assured Elvis Presley that he would soon be heard over the portion of the show broadcast on CBS radio network.
 
Hereafter, when in Shreveport to appear on the Louisiana Hayride, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black stayed at the Al-Ida Motel, Highway 80 in Bossier City, across the Red River. Bossier City was a 24-hour-a-day strip of bars, honky tonks and cheap motels that catered to the servicemen from nearby Barksdale AFB. 
 
After the show, Elvis and the boys often visited Harry's Bar-B-Q, a local eatery, where they joined other Hayride performers to play guitar and sing until dawn.
 
According to Scotty Moore, while the trio was in Shreveport, some play dates booked by Tillman Franks, a local agent, did not materialize, and the trio was stuck in the motel and could not pay their bill. Another agent, Pappy Covington, booked a couple of dates in east Texas for the group so that they could leave town 
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
(Above) Elvis Presley and Horace Logan pose with disc jockey Ed Hamilton (centre) backstage at the Louisiana  Hayride in Shreveport (Photo probably December 15, 1956).
 
In October 1954 Logan introduced the teen-age  Elvis Presley to America by saying "Ladies and gentlemen, you've never heard of this young man before, but  one day you'll be able to tell your children and grandchildren you heard musical history made tonight''. 
 
Frank Page: ''Horace Logan usually placed before the main attraction, but because Elvis was a stranger, I  was asked if I accept the idea to introduce him. Very often we improvised our intros and this night was no  exception. Had I known how famous would be these words, I would have been thinking about it. They were  first printed in a Look magazine, later in hundreds of books and newspapers. Presumably, each radio station  of the nation has a cassette of the event and would last but least recorded on 46 bootleg albums - from  Taiwan to Timbuktu. 
 
Elvis was noncommittal and polite. He didn’t wobble and gyrating, had not his famous smile, where you  could see his teeth, and an occasional stuttering. Elvis sang both sides of the recording and started with  "That's All Right''. It was a bluesy Beale Street song, which received wide acclaim. "Blue Moon Of  Kentucky" was ultimately a country song, although Bill Monroe it has never sung this way''.
 
On the first presentation of these recordings, you can hear that the sound engineers of the radio clearly  cranked up the volume of the microphones, which were in the audience, as to get more applause. It was not a  sensational start for the man who of the period of a few months was named "King of Rock And Roll", whose  recordings turned into gold and each of his albums achieved platinum status.
 
Frank Page: ''Remember that I spoke this evening with Elvis backstage. I was interested in whether he was  wherever he appeared, accepted since we had to make a decision about whether we should let him appear on  the show. He said he would have occurred in some clubs in the area around Memphis and readily  acknowledged that an older crowd was not too thrilled with him, but that it was the teenager who loved what  he was doing. That I could understand. He was a handsome boy, dressed conservatively. Elvis brooded for a few weeks on the rejection, what he had learned on the Grand Ole Opry and had just decided to give up  singing when he got the chance to perform on the Hayride. If we had rejected him, he might have given up.  He told me that Jim Denny, who led the Opry talent office, told him he should get better drive trucks and that  he would never make it as a singer. (J. Denny gainsay this remark).That discouraged the teenager. I told Elvis  that he should not listen to such advice, try it and form his own opinion without listening to anyone other  than to himself (this statement is controversial). We booked Elvis again for the show and on 6 November  1954, we offered him a one-year contract on our stage at Union Scale. That translated into the princely sum  of 18$ per week for Elvis and 12$ each for Scotty and Bill. It was obvious that he could stand on his own  and this offer of good, steady work afforded him the opportunity to hone his craft and gain valuable  experience and exposure. Elvis was there where he wanted to be. Soon the young people came in droves,  "bean shooters" - as we called them''.
 
On Elvis last appearance at the Louisiana Hayride, on 15 December 1956, there was a mass hysteria among  female fans, who Horace Logan with the famous slogan "Please young people, Elvis has left the building, he  has gotten in his car and driven away ..... Please take your seats“, tried to calm down.
 
Al Dvorin was the regular announcer for Elvis during the 1970's. He chose the slogan of Horace Logan and  its version you can also hear on various live recordings: ''Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.  Thank you and goodnight''.
D.J. FONTANA - Elvis Presley's drummer from 1955 to 1969, born Dominic Joseph Fontana in  Shreveport, Louisiana. D.J. originally start playing the drums when he was around 13 or 14 years old in high school, and clubs like that.  Since beginning his career as staff drummer, in  1954 at the Louisiana Hayride, D.J. has played behind a host of big name stars, both on  records and on the road. The list is endless and includes Webb Piers, Johnny Horton, George  Jones, Lefty Frizzell, Claude King, Hank Thompson, Carl Perkins, Marty Robbins, Johnny  Cash, Roy Orbison, Merle Travis, Jim Reeves, Gene Vincent, Dale Hawkins, Waylon Jennings,  Narvel Felts, Dolly Parton, Ringo Star and Lynn Anderson.
 
Elvis Presley first met D.J. Fontana while appearing at the "Louisiana Hayride" on October  16, 1954. Fontana, the staff drummer, became the first person to play drums on the "Louisiana Hayride", dosing so behind a curtain. Previously he had played his Gretsch  drums for radio station KWKH's (Shreveport, Louisiana) studio band. Popular opinion has it  that Fontana was first heard on "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone", and then on other Sun  recordings by Elvis Presley. 
 
However, Fontana has stated that he did not play on any Elvis' Sun recordings.
 
The drummers on the Sun Records was Johnny Bernero and Jimmie Lott. Fontana, who  played behind Elvis Presley on about forty-six recordings session between 1956 and 1968,  left Elvis' band in 1969 to become a session musician in Nashville. He played drums on Ringo Starr's "Beaucoups Of Blues" album (The Jordaniares also appeared on the album).  Fontana appeared in the 1957 movies "Loving You" and "Jailhouse Rock". He also played  drums for a stripper in the 1975 movie Nashville. Fontana authored the book "D.J.  Fontana Remembers Elvis:
 
"My association with Elvis Presley all started, I guess, when Tillman Franks of the Louisiana  Hayride show in Shreveport called me one day and said, 'Listen to this boy's tape. He  might want to use you on weekend'. I listened, I liked what I heard. Little did I know then  this would start a twelve-year association with Elvis".
 
"When Elvis, Scotty Moore and Bill Black arrived in town that weekend, Scotty asked me into  their dressing room and we talked about what we were going to do on stage. Scotty was like  their road manager. We fiddled around back there about five or six minutes and I was ready".
 
"That first night on Hayride was quiet - your basic country music show. The people were  older and they were there to watch Webb Pierce. They weren't prepared for a young boy  running all over the stage. I think what happened is they all went home and told their kids about what they had seen and the kids began coming. The crowds got bigger and bigger  each week through word of mouth".
 
"I started by playing weekends with Elvis, Scotty and Bill. Then they would go back to  Memphis. They couldn't afford to take me back to Memphis with them, so I would wait and  join them the next weekend. Once they offered me four dates in east Texas following the Hayride. We would be touring with Jim Ed Brown through Longview, Kilgore and Tyler. Tom  Perryman was booking the shows. What started out to be four dates wound up being three  or four weeks. After this tour, Scotty wanted to know if I would work for them if they got  any jobs. I agreed. After all, I was making more money working one night a week with  them on Hayride than I had been making all week in other places".
 
"We began touring a lot with Jim Ed Brown in east Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. We  worked the Big D Jamboree in the Dallas area a couple of times. It was a package show,  working with Hank Thompson, Webb Pierce and Faron Young and, when Tom Parker took  over, Hank Snow. We were doing the warm-up acts for them, working thirty to forty  minutes to warm up the crowds until the headliners came on".
 
"We didn't have much of a play list in those days. Elvis sang "That's All Right", a couple of  Sam Cooke tunes, "Maybellene". He was twisting and shaking from the start and it didn't  seem put on". We worked a couple of years constantly on the road. Little stuff. But each week things got hotter. We saw Parker two or three times along the way, but didn't know  who he was at the time. He never really said anything. Later, I learned he was checking us  out.".
 
"Life in those days was doing a gig, breaking down, packing the car, driving four hundred,  five hundred miles to the next place and doing it all over again. The three of us split the  driving while Elvis slept. He would take his turn driving in the morning. He was always  filled with nervous energy. He was always playing the car radio, flipping from station to  station to see if anyone was playing his records. And he loved to play games. He loved  firecrackers even then. If he caught you asleep in the car, he would light one of them and  you weren't sleeping much longer. He would throw cherry bombs at street signs. If  musicians were following us in their cars to the next town, he would try to hit their cars  with firecrackers and cherry bombs. He was just a big, overgrown kid. This never changed  in him".
 
"We would drive into the next town. We had no reservations. We always tried to get the  cheapest room we could get. We didn't have much money in those days. Until I joined the  group, Elvis got the single room and Scotty and Bill shared the other room. When I came  on board, I, being the newcomer, had to stay with Elvis. He would stay awake all nights,  listening to the radio and talking until he was just too tired. Then he would fall asleep".
 
"After we did a show, Elvis was always really keyed up. After we had driven awhile toward  the next gig, we would stop at one of those all-night diners. One of us would be assigned  to take Elvis walking down the highway while the other two would go in and buy the  burgers. We would try to wear him down, tire him out. The others would drive down the  road and pick us up and as soon as Elvis would get in the back seat, he was asleep".
 
"We would drive into the next town between 8 and 10 a.m. He would sleep all day. We would  awaken him, set up, then go out and eat about 5 or 6 p.m. Then we would go back to the  motel and get him. Life in those early days was an endless string of nameless motels and restaurants, places like the Al-Ida in Bossier City, Louisiana. It was cheap. They knew Elvis  there. And we would go over to Harry's Bar-B-Q after the Louisiana Hayride shows and sit  and drink and talk".
 
"One night, after playing a San Antonio gig, we had a bunch of kids hanging around us in  the motel. Elvis decided we should all go jump in the pool with our clothes on. It was long  after the pool had closed at 10 p.m. The manager came and threatened to throw us out of  the motel if we didn't get out of that pool right then and return to our rooms. We got out.  Other bands in those days were known for tearing up motel rooms. we didn't want that  reputation. In those days, in a lot of cheap motels, if you told them you were a musician  they wouldn't give you a room".
 
"After Tom Parker came into the picture, things got regimented. We had a schedule thirty  days in advance. We knew where we were going and what hotels we were staying in. We  had phone numbers where we would be staying and playing. Even then, Elvis was up to his old pranks. It got to the point where every thirty miles or so he would want to stop or slow  down and throw firecrackers or something".
 
"When Elvis was up, he would talk about a lot of things. He wanted to know how his  records were doing. He would flip the radio dial to see if stations were playing his records.  It concerned him to know how things were going. He was always planning changes in the  act. He could control crowds well, even when he was young. If things were going slow, he  knew what to do to liven things up a bit".
 
"Bill Black was a comedian at heart. He would slap that stand-up bass, jump up and down  and tell hillbilly jokes like those, 'why did the chicken cross the roads' jokes. Once Parker  took over the act, he put a stop to these antics. He told Bill to 'just play your bass, no  more comedy. We're trying to sell my boy'. Bill had to back off".
 
"We were then making four hundred, five hundred dollars a week. In the early days, they  each got an equal percentage from the gigs. When Parker took over, he put a stop to that.
 
Then, Elvis would get fifty percent and Scotty and Bill would split the other fifty percent.  After they paid the expenses, they had little left. They walked out because of the money  arrangements".
 
"In those days, they were booking any place that would take Elvis because they were  trying to get his name out there. Like the Louisiana Hayride, for instance. I doubt they  were making over a hundred dollars over there, but it was good for them because it gave  them radio exposure all the way into Canada".
 
"The split took place while we were doing Seattle and Vancouver. Elvis asked if I were  leaving too. I told him, 'You've always paid me what and when you said you would. Their  differences are between you all'. Elvis offered Scotty and Bill more to stay and they did, on a day-to-day basis. At that point, he began paying me the same as they got".
 
"Elvis was funny in a way. His feelings were easily hurt. You had to feel him out sometimes  and you had to let him know exactly what you meant when you did or said something. If  you didn't, sometimes he would go home and worry about it until he figured it out for  himself. He tended to take things too seriously when sometimes he shouldn't have. After  twelve years, I quit. Sam Phillips had his studio going and I tried to get some session work  there and in Nashville. The Jordanaires were staying busy. I told Tom Diskin why I was  leaving". "A year later, Elvis was in town and I went over to explain to him why I had left to  that I had two kids at home and I wanted to stay with them more; that I was doing a lot of  sessions. Elvis told me, 'I had heard a lot of different stories. Now I understand. I don't  blame you. If I could do it, I would do the same thing'".
 
"After that, I did one more gig with Elvis - the 1968 Singer Special. And after that, I visited  him at Graceland maybe one or two times. He was always friendly when I visited. He was  so proud of Graceland. He would always show me the house, what was new since I was  there last. We would talk about the changes in his life and he told me it was no fun  anymore; that he was surrounded by security and was afraid to get out of his own house.  He wanted to go back to the good ol' days, like when we first started out". "Elvis had an  uncanny memory. He could remember about all that had happened in those cities in the  Sun years. He told me one time, 'I really get tired of being Elvis'".
 
Dominic Joseph Fontana died on June 13, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 87. At the time of his death, he was suffering from complications of a broken hip. 
 
Bob Will's band had the first drummer to appear on the "Grand Ole Opry". He also played  behind a curtain so that the audience wouldn't know he was there. Drums were not a  welcome instrument to country music fans.
 
FLOYD CRAMER - Nashville session piano player, born in Samti, Louisiana, on October 27,  1933, who became well-known for his slip-note style of playing, which was taught to him by  Don Robertson. In his youth, Cramer played piano, when he was thirteen years old, Cramer  in high school. In 1951, Floyd Cramer moved to Shreveport, and worked for the Louisiana  Hayride. In 1952, Cramer moved to Nashville, Tennessee as session piano player for many  artists.
 
Cramer played as a session musician for numerous RCA artists including Elvis Presley,  whom he had met on the "Louisiana Hayride". For two weeks in October 1955 Cramer  appeared on the same bill as Elvis Presley on the Jamboree tour from Abilene, Texas, to  St. Louis.
 
Floyd Cramer was married with Mary Kitchens. Floyd Cramer played piano on all  Jim Reeves sessions for RCA. Floyd Cramer backed later Elvis Presley on all his Nashville  recording sessions from January 1956 through January 1968, included the Elvis hits:  "Heartbreak Hotel", "A Big Hunk O'Love", "It's Now Or Never", "Crying In The Chapel", "I  Feel So Bad", "Little Sister", "Devil In Disguise", and "Love Letters".
 
In 1955, Floyd Cramer moved for good to Nashville, and worked for the Grand Ole Opry;  worked with Marty Robbins on tour, and in 1960, Floyd Cramer recorded his first hit "Last  Date" (RCA Victor 47-7775), reached at the Billboard Top 100 Country chart at number 2.
 
Floyd Cramer has always been able to sing notes (slip-note) with his fingers and phrase  them with artistic soul, so by simply applying the Cramer technique to the songs he has  create a truly magnificent piece of work. Floyd Cramer died at long cancer in Nashville,  Tennessee on December 31, 1997 at the age of 65.
OCTOBER 16, 1954 SATURDAY
 
Issue of Billboard, there was a small item in Bill Sachs' "Folk Talent & Tunes" announcing that  "Bob Neal of WMPS radio, Memphis, is planning fall tours with Elvis Presley, the Louvin Brothers, and J.E. and Maxine Brown".
 
At Scotty's urging Bob Neal has agreed to help set up  shows in the Memphis area and the Mississippi-Arkansas region, within reach of the strong  radio signal of his early-morning and noon shows.
(Above) Billboard, October 20, 1954.  In spite of Elvis feeling by the Grand Ole Opry, Billboard's country charts following his October appearance showed that ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' was hot in Nashville's record stores and the local jukeboxes.
 
OCTOBER 16, 1954 SATURDAY
 
Issue of Billboard, there was a small item in Bill Sachs' "Folk Talent & Tunes" announcing that  "Bob Neal of WMPS radio, Memphis, is planning fall tours with Elvis Presley, the Louvin Brothers, and J.E. and Maxine Brown".
 
At Scotty's urging Bob Neal has agreed to help set up  shows in the Memphis area and the Mississippi-Arkansas region, within reach of the strong  radio signal of his early-morning and noon shows.
 
OCTOBER 20, 1954 WEDNESDAY
 
Elvis Presley was back in Memphis for his regular ladies' night show at the Eagle's Nest in  Memphis. Vernon, according to Elvis, took a somewhat less sanguine view. "My daddy had  seen a lot of people who played guitars and stuff and didn't work, so he said: "You should  make up your mind either about being an electrician or playing a guitar. I never saw a guitar player that was worth a damn".
 
After the show Elvis hung around Memphis, practised at Scotty's house, and basked in all  the attention that was coming their way.
OCTOBER 20, 1954 WEDNESDAY
 
Memphis Press-Scimitar, October 20, 1954
Elvis Presley 'CLICKS'
Young Memphis Singer Now In Louisiana Show
 
Elvis Presley, Memphis' swiftly rising young hillbilly singing star is now a regular member of  the Louisiana Hayride, broadcast each Saturday night over KWKH, Shreveport, La., and in  part each third week over CBS, heard locally over WREC at 8 p.m.
 
The Hayride specializes in picking promising young rural rhythm talent - and it took just  one guest appearance last Saturday for the young Memphian to become a regular. He had  been heard about two weeks earlier on Grand Ole Opry from Nashville.
 
Presley was assured by a.m., "Pappy" Covington of the Hayride staff that he will be heard  over the network portion of the show from his two jukebox hit records made for the Sun  Record Company of Memphis.
 
AROUND THE HORN
 
Bob Neal, veteran country and western disc jockey of WMPS radio, Memphis, has taken over  the personal management of Elvis Presley, 19-year-old country singer who in a few short  months has catapulted to a top spot on Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport. Presley and his  supporting team, Scotty Moore and Bill Black, plus J.E. and Maxine Brown and a Hayride  show will appear in Clarksdale, Miss., January 12; Helena, Ark., January 13; and Booneville,  Miss., Sheffield, Ala., Leachville, Ark., and Sikeston, Mo., the week of January 16. The  following week the Presley unit will work a series of east Texas dates with Tom Perryman, of  Gladewater, Tex. For the time being, Neal will continue his disc jockey chores at WMPS  radio.
 
OCTOBER 22, 1954 FRIDAY
 
Additional, there was a lucrative concert market in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee. The  "Louisiana Hayride" had its own booking agency and their agent, a.m., "Pappy" Covington, booked Elvis  Presley in nearby small clubs and high school auditoriums.
 
One of Covington's first booking took two days of phone negotiations with Lois Brown, owner of the  Cadillac Club on St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans. After lengthy haggling, Brown refused to pay the $150  "Hayride" booking fee. Instead, she hired the Everly Brothers for $75.
 
After more haggling with another promoter, Keith Rush, Covington was successful. For $75, Elvis Presley  and the Blue Moon Boys would appear at "The Old Barn Dance" in New Orleans, showcased in two separate  musical sets. 
 
When Elvis Presley walked into "The Old Barn Dance", he was surprised by the sparse crowd of about  seventy-five people; the small crowd jeopardized Elvis' future bookings in New Orleans. The dance had been  poorly publicized, and Elvis' records were lust breaking in the area.
 
Given her choice of hiring a relatively unknown singer from Memphis for a hundred-fifty per night, or hiring  the upstart Everly Brothers, New Orleans nightclub owner Lois Brown went for the Everly Brothers in a  hurry, then later would tell friends, "I still regret it. Since that time (1954), we became very good friends".  "Keith said he was a real hot number", she said. "well, we didn't take him. We took the Everly Brothers  instead".
 
Two years later, Elvis Presley played to sell-out crowds at the Municipal Auditorium. All thirteen thousand  seats sold out in a hurry. Mrs. Brown said Elvis Presley returned to New Orleans often to visit friends. "We  would see him at least once a year", she said. "He was one of the nicest guys this side of heaven".
 
There were some high points during the week in Louisiana and Texas, however, as Elvis Presley, Scotty  Moore and Bill Black made successful appearances at the "Old Texas Corral" in Houston, and at a KSIJ radio  concert broadcast from Gladewater, Texas. These Texas appearances developed a solid following for Elvis  Presley in Texas, where he experimented with new rhythm and blues tunes.
 
OCTOBER 22, 1954 SATURDAY
 
"Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was number 6 in Nashville and number 3 in New Orleans, according to  Billboard's Country and Western Territorial chart for the week ending October 13th. This was the first time  Elvis Presley had charted a song outside the Memphis area. Elvis Presley made his second appearance on the  "Louisiana Hayride" in Shreveport.
 
OCTOBER 23, 1954 SATURDAY
 
Issue of Billboard placed "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" at number 6 in New Orleans and number 3  in Nashville. The Billboard Country and Western Territorial chart for the week ending  October 13 reported, for the first time, that Sam Phillips' campaign to promote Elvis' music  outside of Memphis was succeeding. Record wholesalers in Dallas, Houston, and New Orleans  were on the phone to Sun requesting larger and larger shipments of Elvis' first single "That's  All Right" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky". Sam Phillips credited Alta Hayes of Big State  Distributors in Dallas with breaking Presley's record outside of Memphis. "She told me that  his record was interesting and she thought she could sell it", Phillips confided. Sam Phillips,  however, still had the same old problem. He didn't have the ready Cash to press more copies  of Elvis' records.
 
OCTOBER 23, 1954 SATURDAY
 
Billboard announces that Elvis Presley with his guitar and bassman, Scotty and Bill, made an  appearance recently at Texas Bill Strength's, The Silver Slipper Club, located on Highway 42  in Atlanta. No further evidence of this Atlanta gig has been found, which leads one to wonder if it may not have taken place in Memphis, where Strength, a brand-new disc jockey  on KWEM who had only recently moved to the area, has just started performing and booking  gigs.
 
OCTOBER 24, 1954 SUNDAY
 
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black performed at the Lake Cliff Club in Shreveport,  Louisiana with Hoot Rains and Curly Herndon. These two performers were regulars on the  "Hayride" and the booking was designed to supplement Elvis' meagre performance guarantee. After nine days in Louisiana and Texas, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black  had just enough money for the trip home to Memphis.
 
Elvis Presley was attracted to Hoot's pretty daughter, Mary Alice, but he was kind of  nervous about asking Hoot, the steel guitar player on Slim Whitman's "Indian Love Call", for  permission to take her out. The gig at the Lake Cliff turned into something of a joke. Hoot  and Curley had been playing there for six years, and they had their following, but  unfortunately their following hadn't been alerted to the fact that they wouldn't be playing  at the Lake Cliff that night, and if they didn't throw things, they did practically everything  but. By the end of the first set the club had just about emptied out, and it was, in Scotty  Moore's assessment, "a complete bust".
 
At this Lake Cliff Club, the house had been packed when Elvis and the band started their  set - and by the end, they were playing to a nearly deserted audience. The owner was so  upset, he told them to skip their second set and clear out before they put him out of business for good.
 
Carl Perkins signed a contract for Sun Records on this day. The next day, Elvis Presley and  his band appearing Eagle's Nest in Memphis.
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
Elvis Presley returned to Sleepy-Eyed John's Eagle's Nest Club in Memphis, where he shared the bill with Chuck Reed, Tiny Dixon, Herb Jeffries, and Sleepy Eyed John. The homecoming weekend was a powerful tonic for Elvis Presley. The crowds were larger than ever at the Eagle's Nest, and they cheered Elvis' every move. Elvis Presley sang "Blue Guitar" and probably "Uncle Pen". The reaction was positive and Sam Phillips realized that Elvis Presley was ready for concerts anywhere. His live act was perfected. 
 
LIVE APPEARANCE FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
 
EAGLE'S NEST, 4090 LAMAR AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
OCTOBER 29, 1954 FRIDAY
SESSION HOURS: 9:00 PM
 
1* - "BLUE GUITAR" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Earl Hooker - Written in 1954
Publisher: - Charly Records International Music
Recorded: - October 29, 1954 Probably
 
Elvis Presley sang "Blue Guitar" on the "Louisiana Hayride". It been speculated that Elvis Presley recorded the song while at Sun Records, but no tape has surfaced. Included in the 1955 folio "The Elvis Presley Album of Jukebox Favourites".
 
2* - "THAT'S ALL RIGHT" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Crudup Music
Recorded: - October 29, 1954 Probably
 
3*- "BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Bill Monroe
Publisher: - Peer International Music
Recorded: - October 29, 1954 Probably
 
4 - ''SITTIN' ON TOP OF THE WORLD'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Walter Vinson-Lonnie Chatman
Publisher: - Okeh Music
Recorded: October 29, 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)
 
The Memphis Press Scimitar headlined: "Elvis Presley CLICKS". The accompanying article broke the story about Elvis' contract as a "Louisiana Hayride" regular. "The Hayride" specializes in picking promising young rural rhythm talent", the Press Scimitar noted, "and it took just one guest appearance last Saturday for the young Memphian to become a regular".
 
This Friday night Bob Neal brought a visitor out to the club. Oscar Davis, known as the "Baron Of The Box Office", was a flamboyant fifty-year-old veteran of the vaudeville, carnival, and country circuits.
 
"I was in Memphis", recall Davis, "to cut my spots, the transcription for selling the show, at WMPS radio, and Bob Neal was the big discjockey there", Oscar says. "I had heard much about Elvis. I asked Bob if he had the Elvis records and he said he did. He played them for me. He said, 'I can't play them on this station because they're barred here'''.
 
Bob was playing sweet country, good-listening music, and Elvis was too raucous. Then he said, 'Incidentally, he's playing at the Airport Inn if you'd like to see him'. I said I'd be glad to. We went out to the airport and he just had two boys with him, a guitar player and a bass player. The place was full of women. It seated only around 60 people, but they were screamin' their heads off. I said, 'Bob, this guy is sensational. I'd like to meet him. Introduce me to him. He said, 'I can't. He hates my guts because I can't play his records. I said, 'Well, I'm going to meet him'. And I brought him over to the table. Now, Scotty Moore, the guitar player, was acting as the manager at that time. So we made a tentative deal and they were somewhat excited about getting me in the picture with them. We agreed to meet the following Sunday when Eddy Arnold would be in town and I would be back", says Davis.
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
OCTOBER 30, 1954 SATURDAY
 
Elvis reportedly had a recording session at the studios of KWKH in Shreveport. He supposedly  recorded "Always Late (With Your Kisses)", "Blue Guitar", "Give Me More More More (Of Your  Kisses)", and "That's What You Gotta Watch". Although it was common practice for artists to  use radio stations for recording purposes, there is no further substantiation for this story,  but several musicians remembered that Elvis Presley taped. However, there was no  Louisiana Hayride show on this date. The Hayride broadcast was pre-empted by the regional  rivalry of the LSU-Mississippi State football game. Elvis Presley sang all of them in club dates,  as they helped to fill out his live act, and it seems logical that he would use the time in the  KWKH studio to further perfect these songs, and perhaps obtain a tape of them.
 
OCTOBER 30, 1954 SATURDAY
 
Rumours suggested Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black appeared at the Eagle's Nest  Night Club in Memphis, Tennessee. Also on the bill Chuck Reed, Tiny Dixon, Hugh Jeffries,  and Sleepy Eyed John. Dance from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
 
According to Bob Neal, ''When Oscar Davis came to town, I met with him for the advertising and promotion.  Details taken care of, Oscar asked me: ''Is there a new kid here in town, Elton or something like that?''. You must  mean Elvis Presley', I said. 'Yes, he's really something else! I put him on his first big show recently, and he stole  the show'. Oscar Davis said, 'Someone told me about him. Is there anyplace that's he's playing?''. And I said, 'I  believe he is appearing at a club in town. Let me check it out'. So it was that Helen my wife and I picket up David  at his hotel and took him to the Eagle's Nest at Lamar. The Eagle's Nest got its name because it was on the upper  level of a building overlooking the Clearpool swimming pool. We climbed the steps and entered to find a goodly  crowd of patrons enjoying the music of the house combo, dancing on a small floor facing the raised stage. It was a  young crowd seemingly intent on having a good time''.
 
''We found a table where we could watch the stage, settled into our seats, ordered drinks, and passed the time  with a small talk. 'Hey there, Pudgy!' I glanced up to see the gaunt face of Sleepy-Eyed John, another Memphis  disc jockey who did his shows on WHHM. John always referred to me by the name Pudgy, as in Uncle Pudgy, my  imaginary counterpart on my shows. I introduced him to Oscar. Oscar has heard about Elvis, so Helen and I  wanted him to see the real article in action''.
 
''Sleepy-Eyed John Lepley said, ''Well, he'll go on in about fifteen minutes, so just hold tight''. ''Soon, the combo  was silent, and the musicians stepped off the stage. Then, I could see Scotty setting up his amplifier, and Bill  brought the old stand-up bass on stage. With everything set, they retired to the wings. Sleepy-Eyed John shuffled  onto the stage. He introduced himself to a patter of polite applause and told a couple of cornball jokes. By the  way, my old friend Uncle Pudgy, Bob Neal is here tonight!'. He pointed at the dark area where we were sitting.  There was a moderate applause, and I gave my best celebrity wave to the patrons. Now, we've got what you have  been waiting for! Yes indeed, it's the one and only Hillbilly Cat, Elvis Presley''.
 
''Heavy applause and a few cheers. And Scotty and Bill moved onto the stage, picked up their instruments and  started vamping the rhythm. Then Elvis, smiling one-sidedly, swaggered to the mike, guitar strap around his neck,  and the guitar behind him, acknowledging the cheers. As the noise died down, he wiped imaginary sweat from his  brow with the back of his right hand, leaned in close to the mike, and belched. And as the crowd roared, he  swung into ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''. It was intense and primal, as he moved and gyrated to the beat, the right  knee performing its own patterns, the head snapping back to toss the blonde hair out of his eyes. As each song  ended, the cheers welled up in the dark room, and the beat would start once more''.
 
''There were blues songs, country songs, old favorites, ''Sitting On Top Of The World'', all leading up to the  frenzied beat of ''That's All Right'', and then it was over to the roar of cheers, and life returned to normal''.
 
''Amazing! Simply Amazing', Oscar Davis shook his head. I've never seen anything like it''.
 
Moments later, pushing through the press of the audience, pats on the back, an occasional hug for a pretty girl,  Elvis came and sat with us''. 'Hi, Mr. Neal, Mrs. Neal. Hope you enjoyed it'. 'It was great', we said simultaneously. I  continued, 'Elvis, this is Oscar Davis. He's from Nashville, and he's bringing Eddy Arnold to town'. 'Please to meet  you, Sir'. It’s all my pleasure, son. I have just never seen anything like your performances'''.
 
''Thanks a lot', Elvis murmured. Helen spoke, 'Why don't you make a record of ''Sitting On Top Of The World''? I've  always liked that one, and you do it different'. Thank you, mam. Mr. Phillips is thinking about letting me record  it', he smiled. In a few moments, Presley excused himself to drift from the table to table, chatting with the  growing circle of admirers, and we left. During the ride back to Davis' hotel, he repeated over and over. 'I've seen  a lot of performers and a lot of shows. But, never have I seen anything as exciting as this kid. He is going to be  great!''.
OCTOBER 31, 1954 SUNDAY
 
At 6:00 p.m. Elvis Presley walked up the familiar steps of the entrance to Ellis Auditorium.  The Eddy Arnold show included Minnie Pearl, guitar virtuous Hank Garland, local hillbilly star Eddie Hill,  and the singing group the Jordanaires, not to mention Robert Powers, the World's Smallest  Hillbilly Singer. 
 
The amp at the box office recognized him immediately and gave him the  tickets that had been left in his name, and he attracted a good deal of attention himself  sitting up front in his pink shirt and black pants and sharp white shoes. 
 
Eddy Arnold sang, "Don't Rob  Another Man's Castle", "I'll Hold You In My Heart", "Any Time", and "I Really Don't Want To  Know", all in that effortlessly flowing voice, with the smooth quartet backing of the  Jordanaires. 
 
After the show was over, Bob Neal found Elvis Presley and took him backstage, where he  wandered around the unfamiliar setting in a kind of daze. Oscar Davis came over and  seemed genuinely pleased to see him; he introduced him to Eddy and to Hoyt Hawkins of  the Jordanaires. Later that night, Oscar Davis, Elvis Presley, and Bob Neal go to a little  coffee shop across the street and have a Coke or a cup of coffee. A heavy set man in a  rumpled ready-made suit with a cigar stuck in his mouth eyed them briefly from across the  room, then turned his attention elsewhere. "Who was that?", Elvis Presley asked Oscar as  they exited the backstage area. "That", said Oscar, with a respectful but somewhat  impatient gesture, "was Colonel Tom Parker".
 
"It was a rather cold day and around eleven o'clock in the morning they showed up", says  Oscar Davis. "I steered them to the coffee shop across the street from the auditorium, not  telling Colonel Parker anything about Elvis. I didn't want him to know about Presley. I was working for him. I was doing the exploitation for him. But I didn't want him to know. He  said, 'Where you going?'. I couldn't say, I'm going nowhere', so I said, 'I'm going over to  have a cup of coffee'. So Tom entered into the negotiations and the first thing he said was,  'Well, the guy will get nowhere on Sun Records. This is the first thing. And Jud Phillips,  who is Sam Phillips' brother, said, 'Well, he's not going off Sun Records and that's for sure'.  Because they were beginning to get a little action. So Tom brought up a lot of other  objections to handling Elvis, and I proceeded almost at that time to be discouraged about  the whole thing. We went back and we had a few arguments about Elvis, Tom and I. Finally  I was riding with him, we were coming back to Nashville, and Roy Acuff called me up. He  wanted me to exploit him and Kitty Wells as a package. So I proceeded to forget about  Elvis. But the Colonel did not", says Oscar Davis.
 
According to Dixie Locke, "I was worried about Elvis. When he was gone, he stopped by  the Chisca Hotel to visit Dewey while he did his radio show, and they played pool,  sometimes they just watched dirty movies in Dewey's garage, and I knew that they went  down on Beale, because he told me about meeting B.B. King and about some of the  colourful clubs and club owners that he had run into. He told me he had meet Lowell  Fulson at the Club Handy, and he sang some of Fulson's brand-new number "Reconsider  Baby" for me. He described how Calvin Newborn did the splits while he was playing the  guitar at the Flamingo Lounge".
UNKNOWN DATE LATE 1954
 
Tennessee and adjoining states. Billboard's cryptic method of reporting could confuse even  the simplest facts. This came in to play in the following item (October 16, 1954): "Bob Neal,  of WMPS radio, Memphis, is planning fall tours with Elvis Presley, the Louvin Brothers, and  J.E. and Maxine Brown.
 
He is set with Johnny and Jack and Kitty Wells the last week of October, and has several November dates with Webb Pierce". One might assume that the "fall  tours with Elvis Presley" would include the October appearances with Johnny and Jack, Kitty Wells and a November swing with Webb Pierce.
 
The "He" in the second sentence refers to  Neal not Elvis. The Browns, an act that Elvis Presley did work with frequently, spent October  and half of November of 1954 co-starring with Jim Reeves in California, Washington, Idoha,  Colorado, Utah, and Canada.
 
Interestingly, there is an unsubstantiated claim that Elvis Presley was booked to perform  with Webb Pierce in Memphis on November 25, 1954, but opted to take the gig at the  Paladium in Houston, Texas. Unfortunately, the facts surrounding Elvis' Texas dates that  week do not substantiate the sore. The Webb Pierce/Red Sovine/Texas Bill Strength tour in  November 1954 also included Little Rock (6), Birmingham (13), Sheffield, AL (15), Ripley,  MS (16) and Clarksdale, MS (17), all town Elvis Presley would play in 1955.
 
UNKNOWN DATE LATE 1954
 
An August 1992 article by Sherry Daniels in DISCoveries, a record collector's magazine,  reports that she grew up in rural Texas (exact location not identified) and that her cousins  saw Elvis Presley at the Cherry Springs Dance Hall. This sounds like the "friend of a friend" type story. There is a Cherry Spring located 10 miles north of Fredricksburg, which is  between San Antonio and Abilene.
 
"He's right good", one fellow said. "He plays the devil's music", the other countered across  the table. "How can you sit there and say that?". "He just does. The devil's music". They  were arguing the merits of a young singer named Elvis Presley. The argument was taken place in the Fontana Cafe in San Antonio, Texas.
 
"It was probably the only time in thirty-five years in the restaurant business that I ever got  curious over what I had overheard my customers say", said Mrs. Victoria Fontana. "I took  twenty-five cents from the cash register, walked over to the jukebox and put it in. The song  was "That's All Right". I punched its button and listened to it".
 
"I liked it. When it ended, I punched it again. After the third time, I said, 'This is it. He's  got a voice! So I punched it two more times. From then on I was hooked". Little did she  know this Elvis Presley, this new singer, had made it onto the Louisiana Hayride and there,  needing a drummer, had hired D.J. Fontana. D.J. was Victoria's nephew. Little did she  know she would soon be meeting this young man in whom she had just invested a quarter.
 
"D.J. arrived early in the morning with Elvis", she said of that first meeting in late 1954.  "They had been driving all night. D.J. slipped Scotty, Bill and Elvis into the cafe. Sam (her  late husband) called me and said they were there. I went over right away. They were  eating spaghetti and meatballs, salad and garlic bread. Elvis was loving it. I took one look  at him and said to myself, 'He's beautiful'. Oh, he ate so much he couldn't quit".
 
Later, in 1956, after an Elvis performance in San Antonio, Elvis Presley and his band escaped  to the Fontana house to elude the fans - and to eat, of course. "They were tired and  exhausted, but enthusiastic, all at the same time. They ate some more spaghetti and  meatballs". Pence they played two shows in one day in San Antonio. Between shows they  went to the Fontana home to fill their always-empty stomachs.
 
"I set up a buffet", said Victoria. "Elvis ate lasagna first, then spaghetti and meatballs, then  a salad, then some more lasagna". And after a gig one night in Austin, Texas, they called  Aunt Vickie and said they were hungry.
 
"Come on", she told D.J. "it will be ready when you get here". About one the next morning,  they arrived at the Fontana home and within minutes an Italian feast disappeared. Elvis  Presley, then touring with Lefty Frizzell, would stop at the Fontana Cafe one more time.
 
"They stopped in for spaghetti and meatballs, but he never came back again to the  restaurant after that", she sighed. Aunt Vickie and her daughter, Eleanor, flew to New York  to see D.J. (and Elvis, of course) on the Steve Allen TV Show. Spotting them, Elvis  hollered, 'There's Fontana kinfolks'. Aunt Vickie remembers Elvis Presley in the Sun years  as being 'quiet, a typical young man you would like to meet'. "My husband was not one who  saw good in a lot of people, but in Elvis he saw it right away. God gave us Jesus in the first  hundred years. In the last hundred years before 2000 A.D. He gave us Elvis... for love and  peace".
UNKNOWN DATE NOVEMBER, 1954
 
Bob Neal, the radio WMPS disc jockey, called Elvis Presley in November 1954 and offered to  manage him. (Scotty Moore, Presley's guitarist, was acting only as an interim manager to run interference for Elvis Presley, as discussed earlier). In addition to hosting a popular radio  show, Neal owned a record store next door to the Warner Theater, as well as a booking  agency - Memphis Promotions. 
 
It was Neal's Memphis Promotions that had booked the talent for the Overton Park Shell show, and Neal believed that he could make Elvis Presley more  money by managing him.  When Bob Neal offered his professional management services, Elvis  Presley readily accepted. It had been more than a month since Elvis Presley quit work at  Crown Electric, and the management deal made him feel like a real part of show business. 
 
The contract with Bob Neal was for one year, and signed on December 29, 1954. (At first,  Elvis Presley agreed to it in principle only; he wanted to wait until January 1, 1955, to  sign an official document. Elvis Presley reasoned that he needed a couple of months to  work with Neal. If things didn't go well, Elvis Presley could refuse to sign the contract. In  essence, Bob Neal was auditioning for the right to manage Presley). To promote Elvis  Presley's career, an office was rented across the street from the Peabody Hotel, located  160 Union Avenue. From this office, Elvis Presley and Bob Neal concentrated upon new  ways to promote Presley's career. The management agreement stipulated that Neal  received a fifteen percent commission on all bookings. D.J. Fontana, the "Louisiana  Hayride" drummer, had recently joined Elvis' group, and was paid a hundred dollars a  week under the contract. The remainder of the money was divided between Elvis Presley  (fifty percent) and Scotty Moore and Bill Black (twenty-five percent each). Scotty Moore  and Bill Black were elated. They didn't mind helping with D.J. Fontana's salary. The music  was the thing. Unfortunately, their elation was short-lived. That same month, after a  conference with Elvis Presley, Bob Neal told them it had been decided that their old verbal  agreement whereby Elvis received 50 percent and Scotty and Bill each received 25 percent, was no longer acceptable. "It became obvious this wasn't fair, because Elvis was  the star, regardless of the fact they contributed largely to it", Neal explained to Jerry  Hopkins. "So we had a crisis and I had to handle that, announcing to Scotty and Bill we  were no longer going to operate like that, but that they would receive a fee we would all  agree on".
 
Scotty Moore and Bill Black were devasted. It was the end of the Blue Moon Boys. They had  begun with Elvis as partners. Now they were nothing more than salaried sidemen. They  never had a written contract, so they didn't have a legal leg to stand on. They threatened  to quit, in a quiet sort of way, but Bob Neal was adamant: take it or leave it. Scotty and  Bill blamed it on Tom Parker, but Neal told them it was not Parker's doing, a story he has  stuck to over the years. Despite Neal's protestations that it was not Parker - and evidence  that the decision was indeed made by Elvis Presley - to this day Scotty refuses to believe  Elvis would betray him.
 
Scotty Moore and Bill Black agreed to go on salary. Henceforth, they would receive weekly  paycheck of $200 if they were working and $100 if they were not working. Says Scotty, "It  looked like we would make at least as much as if we were bocking hats or making tires. It was a bird in the hand situation. That may not have been a recent salary for what we were  doing, but at that time it was for the guy on the street. The problem was, the guy on the  street didn't have all the responsibilities we had. We bought our own food and our own stage clothes, plus paid all the incidentals. Elvis didn't know about money. I think his  father looked at it like the guy on the street. He was probably thinking: 'Those guys are  making $200 a week. I never made over $30 or $50'. I can understand that mindset. But  that still doesn't make the right".
 
Bob Neal was clearly uncomfortable about what happened, but he viewed it as part of his  job. "My contract was with Elvis, not with Scotty and Bill", he explained later. "They  weren't contracted to me, or to Sun".
 
It was Elvis Presley who convinced Bob Neal to open the office on 160 Union Avenue (now  located Holiday Inn Convention Center) across the Peabody Hotel. Ronald Smith and  Kenneth Herman indicated that Elvis Presley shared with them his ideas about the future, destroying the myth that Elvis Presley lacked a professional view of the music business. He  realized the importance of promotion, and during his first few months with Sun Records he  worked actively to publicize his career. Since Elvis Presley was playing in country and western clubs, it was only natural that the general thrust of his career was initially in this  direction.
 
NOVEMBER 1954
 
The music-press notice Elvis Presley on the Folk Talent & Tunes by Bill Sachs that read: R.  Murray Nash associated with Acuff-Rose Publications, Nashville, the last four years, has  severed connections with that firm as of November 1. Nash has had several propositions, all  connected with the country and western music field, but hasn't made any definite plans as  of this writing. Murray was formerly with RCA Victor and Mercury Records before becoming  affiliated with Acuff-Rose.... Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee paid a surprise visit to the  WLS "National Barn Dance" at the Eighth Street Theater, Chicago, November 6, and  complimented the 30-year-old show and its cast, remarking that such folk music programs  made America great. He said, too, that he was proud of his native State's "Grand Ole Opry",  and commented on the fact that George D. Hay, founder of the "Opry", was an alumnus of  the WLS program... Eddy Arnold and a coterie of country and western folk, including Minnie  Pearl, Goldie Hill, Eddie Hill, the Jordanaires, Donna Dempsey, Robert Powers and the  Plowboys, featuring Hank Garland and Roy Wiggins, played to three capacity houses at the  Wells Theater, Norfolk, November 6, sponsored by WCMS.
 
The date was the conclusion of a 10-day tour for Arnold arranged by Colonel Tom Parker,  of Jamboree Attractions, Madison, Tennessee.
 
Country music is becoming the biggest thing in entertainment today, with more fans than  has pop music, says a feature article in the November issue of Town Journal on the  phenomenal popularity of WSM's "Grand Ole Opry", heard in nearly 40 States over the CBS network every Saturday night. Featured in the story are Carl Smith, Goldie Hill, Eddie Hill,  Roy Acuff, Hank Snow, Jim Denny, Minnie Pearl and other Nashville favourites... Elvis  Presley, 19-year-old comer in the country and western field, who guested on KWKH's "Louisiana Hayride", October 16, and made such a hit that he was brought back a week  later, has become a regular member of the "Hayride" forces, along with William Black and  Winfred Moore. The three record for Sun Records. ...Billy Walker, off the "Hayride" line-up  for several months, rejoins the show next Saturday (20). Walker has been working out of  Sprinfield, Mo.
 
NOVEMBER 3, 1954 WEDNESDAY
 
The Memphis ratings reported Elvis Presley's "Good Rockin' Tonight" number 3 on the survey.  Two weeks later Elvis Presley had two songs on the chart: "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" at  number 3 and "Good Rockin' Tonight" in the number 7 spot. Sam Phillips was promoting Elvis  Presley's successfully in the country market, but he was also breaking Elvis' records in the  rhythm and blues and rock and roll charts. Elvis Presley was a multi-talented performer,  Billboard propounded, suggesting that Elvis' "style is both country and rhythm and blues, and  he can appeal to pop". In stultifying syntax, Billboard concluded that Elvis Presley fir into all  musical markets.
NOVEMBER 3, 1954 WEDNESDAY
 
Elvis Presley without Scotty Moore and Bill Black 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.
 
NOVEMBER 4, 1954 THURSDAY
 
Sam Phillips of Sun Record Company letter to Philadelphia record distributor .
 
This letter from Sam Phillips to Gunter Hauer of Gotham Record Corporation in Philadelphia,   PA is the one letter found which discusses both of Elvis’s first two Sun singles, citing all four   songs.
 
After three paragraphs of standard business, Phillips lays out some golden words and   chastises this distributor for not jumping on the bandwagon: “…In the past few months Sun   has released a new artist who is creating a tremendous excitement in the C&W, R&B and  pop ‘cat’ markets. His name is Elvis Presley, and we sent you samples on 209, his record of   ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ and ‘That’s All Right.’ There has been big movement on the   number in virtually every market and we regret that nothing has happened on it in your   territory.
 
“We have just released a follow up, 210, ‘I Don’t Care If the Sun Don’t Shine’ and ‘Good   Rockin’ Tonight.’ Billboard this week gave it the Spotlight Review, pointing out the triplepotential   of it.” And he closes with: “We know what this artist can do when given air play   and promotion.”
 
This exact artifact was displayed at the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art's “Rock 'N   Roll 1939-1959” exhibit in Paris, France in the summer and fall of 2007. The exhibit was a   lavish affair, with a Grand Opening attended by Little Richard, Tina Turner, Wanda  Jackson, Jerry Lieber of Lieber & Stoller, etc.
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
Elvis Presley only made one commercial during his life. It was for Southern Maid Donuts when he was on The Louisiana Hayride. Elvis performed the commercial on November 6, 1954. He sang the jingle ''You can get them piping hot after 4 P.M., you can get them piping hot, Southern Maid Donuts hits the spot, you can get them piping hot after 4 P.M''. Elvis frequented the Shreveport store for donuts on his visits to the Louisiana Hayride. 
 
LIVE BROADCAST RECORDINGS FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
FOR KWKH'S LOUISIANA HAYRIDE,  SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA, 1954
 
RECORDED MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM
705 GRAND AVENUE AND MILAM STREET, SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA
NOVEMBER 6, 1954 SATURDAY- VIEWING TIME TV-STATION KWKH
SESSION HOURS - 8:00 PM
PRODUCER - HORACE LOGAN
 
With only two singles out, Elvis Presley and his band is forced to rely on cover versions to expand their show. Tonight they include the Clovers "Fool, Fool, Fool", Roy Hamilton's "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry", and the blues and hillbilly standard "Sittin' On Top Of The World". The advertisement for this week's show lists Elvis fourth out of fourteen acts, behind Slim Whitman, Jim Reeves, and Jim Ed and Maxine Brown.  Also guesting on this show were the duo of Jim Ed and Maxine Brown along with Willie Jones, "The Singing Emcee" of Corpus Christi's Texas Jamboree.
 
To cut expenses, the band began staying in the Al-Ida Motel in Bossier City, across the Red River from Shreveport, stopping in at Harry's Bar-B-Q many nights after the show to chow down on hamburgers and barbecue sandwiches. 
 
01 - "SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Walter Vinson-Lonnie Chatmon
Publisher: - Okeh Music
Recorded: - November 6, 1954
 
Contemporary accounts that on this night Elvis Presley performed, among others, this song, either the old Delta blues or the pop standard of the same name.
 
2 - ''BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Bill Monroe*
Publisher: - Peer International Music - Southern Music Publishing
Recorded: - November 6, 1954
 
3 - "FOOL, FOOL, FOOL" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Ahmet Ertegun
Publisher: - Warner-Chappell Music
Recorded: - November 6, 1954
 
4 - "I'M GONNA SIT RIGHT DOWN AND CRY" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Joe Thomas-Howard Biggs
Publisher: - Robert Mellin Limited
Recorded: - November 6, 1954
 
5 - JINGLE FOR SOUTERN MADE DONUTS
Recorded: - November 6, 1954
 
Tonight, as part of his expanded duties, Elvis Presley was given a short commercial ditty for Southern Donuts, which described them as "you can get 'em pipin' hot after 4 p.m., you can get 'em piping hot. Southern Maid Donuts hit the spot. You get 'em piping hot after 4 p.m".
 
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)
 
Billboard, in its "Review Spotlight" section, called "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine"/"Good Rockin' Tonight" a "solid record that could easily break loose". Billboard reported that Colonel Thomas Parker, of Jamboree Attractions, had a signed a contract with Hank Snow to handle Snow's personal appearances. This move would have significant consequences on Elvis future career.
 
Elvis Presley signed a contract with the "Louisiana Hayride" which called for him to appear on the show for fifty-two consecutive Saturday nights between 8:00 and 11:00 p.m., whenever the International Broadcasting Corporation designated. He would be paid eighteen dollars a night, and Scotty and Bill would receive twelve dollars each. Vernon and Gladys Presley accompanied Elvis to Shreveport to sign the contract, and they all stayed at the Captain Shreve Hotel.
 
Elvis made his second appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride". As part of his duties as a regular performer, he sang a short commercial ditty for Southern Donuts which described them as "pippin' hot". Also guesting on the show was Willie Jones, "The Singing Emcee" of the "Texas Jamboree" in Corpus Christi. "He was nervous backstage. I don't believe Elvis ever thought he'd do a commercial", Ronald Smith suggested. "Elvis was trying to catch the attention of the local discjockey's", Smith concluded. It was not long before Presley's persistence paid off.
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
THE HAYRIDE CONTRACT - Just when Elvis Presley was offered a contract on the Hayride may  not be known. However, the underlying reason for his parents visit to Shreveport on this  date was to co-sign the contract as Elvis was only nineteen.
 
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black signed a group contract with the International  Broadcasting Corporation, represented by Horage Logan of KWKH radio. The I.B.C.  controlled the Louisiana Hayride's national broadcast. The agreement called for the trio to appear on the show for 52 consecutive Saturday nights in Shreveport or wherever the  I.B.C. designated. The contract allowed them to miss one Saturday night every three  months after giving 15 days notice. Although there was no specific penalty as part of the  written Hayride contract, Horace Logan has said that the fine for missing additional shows  was double what an entertainer was normally paid per performance. For the term of this  first year's contract, the trio would be paid basic union scale for a live performance:  $18.00 for the band leader (Elvis) and $12.00 each for the musicians (Scotty and Bill).  It is to say that this acceptance by the Hayride staff and his subsequent popularity with the  hayride audience launched his career on a regional level in a way that would have been  much more difficult, if not impossible, without the program.
NOVEMBER 9, 1954 WEDNESDAY
 
Elvis Presley and Dewey Phillips visited the Variety Club at the Gayoso Hotel, located on  Gayoso Avenue, Memphis. Dewey Phillips was a member of the Variety Club, Dewey knew a  lot of show biz folks hung out in the Variety Club, and brought Elvis Presley in on quite a few  nights hoping someone would invite Elvis to sing in his club or in his theater.
 
"He was a quiet, shy young man", recalls Vasser Slate, the bartender who is still mixing  drinks at the Variety Club. "Dewey brought him in frequently.
 
Elvis was just trying to get  started in those early days. He'd come in here, sometimes with Bill Black. He would sit at  the piano and play and sing. He loved to imitate people. He did a wonderful imitation of  Ray Charles for us many nights. He loved imitating Big Boy Crudup. He wasn't really a  piano player, but he could pick out a tune". 
 
"He'd drink a few Cokes - nothing but Cokes - and he would eat peanut butter sandwiches and go   on his way. Now Dewey, he'd always put a little somethin' in his Coke. Elvis was like a lot of   youngsters in those days. He liked to have a lot of good, clean fun", said Vasser Slate. 
 
NOVEMBER 11, 1954 THURSDAY
 
Elvis Presley interviewed for the Southern Donuts commercial spot. Unknown place.
NOVEMBER 12, 1954 FRIDAY
 
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black resigned from their respective jobs so that they  could concentrate on their careers in music. This was an enormous act of faith on the part of  both Scotty Moore, who had a wife and two children to support, and Bill Black, who was not  only married and had a child, but who gave up a solid union job to follow Elvis.
 
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black appeared probably in the Mint Club, Gladewater,  Texas. A couple of folks down Gladewater way still hold fond memories of Elvis. One is E.L. Staggs, a print shop owner who printed posters and handbills for the Louisiana Hayride  performers. One of his creditors was Elvis Presley, who had come into the shop to have  some posters printed for an upcoming appearance in Gladewater, Texas. 
 
"When I first saw him he had just really gotten going on the Hayride", said Staggs. "He was so  different from the other singers. I said then 'I don't think he'll ever amount to anything".  Elvis Presley printing bill for the Gladewater posters amounted to two dollars and fifty cents.  Staggs has yet to be paid for them.
 
NOVEMBER 13, 1954 SATURDAY
 
Billboard offered some clarity by reporting, "Early in December, they (the Browns) are slated  to tour the South with the Louvin Brothers and Elvis Presley". This would be the trip that  included the December 2 show in Helena, the only date confirmed so far. Other possibilities  are North Little Rock, Cherry Valley and Leachville, Arkansas; Corinth and Luca, Mississippi;  Bethel Springs, Tennessee; and any of the dozens of other small towns within a 150-mile  radius of Memphis.
 
"I first met Elvis in 1954 in a little town called Bethel Springs, Tennessee, south of  Jackson", says Carl Perkins. "I had heard "That's All Right", and I was playing a club there  and heard he was playing at the schoolhouses down there, so we took off and went down  to catch his show.
 
We'd stop at gas stations to fill our old cars with gas or buy whatever amount we could  afford, and he'd just pile out of his car and shoot you with a water pistol or jump over the  hood of his car. He was full of life - this boy, he made you feel good around him. Even back  then, when people would laugh at his sideburns and his pink coat and call him sissy - he  had a pretty hard road to go. In some areas, motorcycle gangs would come to the shows.  They would come to get Elvis, but he never worried about it. He went right out and did his  thing and before the show was over, they were standing in line to get his autograph, too",  says Perkins.
 
NOVEMBER 13, 1954 SATURDAY
 
Elvis Presley was voted the eight "Most Promising" Country and Western Vocalist in  Billboard's annual disc jockey poll. (Others, in order, were Tommy Collins, Justin Tubb,  Jimmy and Johnny, Maxine and Jim Ed Brown, Rita Robbins, Skeeter Bonn, Jimmy  Newman, Elvis Presley, Willie Jackson, and Faron Young). "Good Rockin' Tonight" peaked at  number 3 in Memphis for the week ending November 3rd, according to Billboard. Elvis  made another appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride".
 
Elvis Presley and the group holed up at the Al-Ida Motel in Bossier City, across the river,  and the girls started showing up almost as soon as they arrived, as if they sensed his  presence. For a kid who had spent scarcely a night away from home in his nineteen years,  it was like being away at summer camp: he had always loved flirting with the girls, he  loved playing with them and teasing them, but now there was no one around to see that it  didn't go too far. And they didn't seem too concerned about it either. In between shows at  the auditorium he would peek out from behind the curtain, then, when he spotted  someone that he liked, swagger over to the concession stand, place his arm over her  shoulder, and drape his other arm around someone else, acting almost like he was drunk,  even though everyone knew he didn't drink.
 
Elvis Presley with Merle Kilgore hang out at Murrell's cafe, on Market Street, opposite the  Hayride offices. They would sit for hours sometimes, eating hamburgers and talking about  music. "He reminded me of Hank Williams", said Merle, who was a fourteen-year-old had  met Williams and whose admiration for his idol continued to know no bounds, "Something  in his eyes. He's ask you a question, and his eyes would be asking you another question. It  was that look. He'd wait for the answer, but his eyes would be asking the question. I'd only  seen that in Hank and Elvis".
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
LIVE BROADCAST RECORDINGS FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
FOR KWKH'S LOUISIANA HAYRIDE,  SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA, 1954
 
MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM, 705 GRAND AVENUE AND
MILAM STREET, SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA
NOVEMBER 13, 1954 SATURDAY - VIEWING TIME TV-STATION KWKH
SESSION HOURS: 8:00 PM
PRODUCER - HORACE LOGAN
 
Elvis Presley made appearance on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, performing over the portion of the CBS-radio show. This is one of the few Hayride performances for which there is after-the-fact documentation. Billboard, from November 20, 1954, reports, "Elvis Presley... guested on KWKH's "Louisiana Hayride", October 16, and made such a hit that he was brought back a week later".
 
01 - "THAT'S ALL RIGHT" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Wabash Music Corporation - Crudup Music
Matrix number: None - Unissued
Recorded: - November 13, 1954
 
 02 - "BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY" - B.M.I. 
Composer: - Bill Monroe
Publisher: - Peer Music
Matrix number: - None - Unissued
Recorded: - November 13, 1954
 
3 - "FOOL, FOOL, FOOL" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Ahmet Ertegun
Publisher: - Warner-Chappell Music
Matrix number: - None – Unissued
Recorded: - November 13, 1954
 
04 - "JUST BECAUSE" – B.M.I.
Composer: - Bob Shelton-Joe Shelton-Sit Robin
Publisher: - Southern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None – Unissued
Recorded: - November 13, 1954
 
As Elvis Presley prepared for his appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride", "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was still climbing on the Billboard Country and Western Territorial chart. There was also an increased demand for Elvis Presley in concert. In fact, as Elvis Presley came off stage after his show on the "Hayride", Horace Logan gleefully informed him that he to appear the next night.
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar (Martin Dreadnought 18)
Scotty Moore - Electric Lead Guitar (Gibson ES 295)
Bill Black - Acoustic Upright Bass (Kay Maestro M-1)
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
NOVEMBER 15, 1954 MONDAY
 
During November and December 1954, Elvis Presley was very successful in the country music  market. Bob Neal's role was to increase the number of Elvis' concert appearances, and to  bring in lucrative bookings. Elvis Presley had discovered that he couldn't depend upon Sun  Records for financial support. While the records were a commercial success, they didn't  provide much ready cash. 
 
The fact was demonstrated on November 15, 1954 when Sam Phillips gave Elvis Presley and received a check for $82,50 from Sun Records, which was  probably a payment for an earlier recording session and an advance against future royalties.  Sam Phillips presented the check to Elvis Presley when he brought Presley back into the  studio for another recording session.
 
NOVEMBER 17, 1954 WEDNESDAY
 
Elvis Presley, along with "Louisiana Hayride" artists Jimmy and Johnny, appeared in Memphis  at the Eagle's Nest Club. Admission was one dollar for the show and dancing afterwards.  Also  advertised tonight were club regulars Tiny Dixon and Hugh Jeffries. In the audience was  Tillman Franks, the manager of Jimmy and Johnny, and Biff Collie, a Houston country music  promoter and discjockey on Houston's KNUZ radio. Both men would play a major role in  developing Elvis Presley as a touring attraction in Texas.
 
The Eagle's Nest was packed with Elvis' fans, and the "Hayride" artists made numerous  references to Presley's popularity. The energy that Elvis Presley displayed at the Eagle's  Nest was evidence of his zeal for a record career.
 
Billboard magazine noted that "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was number five in Memphis and  "Good Rockin' Tonight" number eight, while in a disc jockey poll Elvis Presley was named  eighth Most Promising Country and Western Artist behind Tommy Collins, Justin Tibb,  Jimmy and Johnny, the Browns, and Jimmy Newman, among others. Bob Neal announced  his own third annual listeners' poll, which had Elvis Presley in tenth position behind such  country stalwarts as Webb Pierce, Faron Young, Ray Price, Hank Snow, and Kitty Wells.
 
NOVEMBER 18, 1954 THURSDAY
 
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black performed for only thirty-two people on one show  at the Nettleton High School, just outside Jonesboro, Arkansas, put on by Bob Neal.
NOVEMBER 19, 1954 FRIDAY
 
"Elvis Pressley" (as the newspaper ad announced) appeared at the Johnny's Lake Cliff Club  near Shreveport, Louisiana, a combination night club and "quickie" motel. Also listed for this show were Scotty Moore and Bill Black. Elvis would normally have been the guests of Hoot  and Curley, who played the Lake Cliff on Friday nights. However, on this date they were  booked across town at Mike's Ranch House. Scotty recalled that their Lake Cliff gig was "a  complete bust", as the Friday crowd wasn't ready for rock 'n' roll.
 
Rains Hoot and Herndon Curley were former members of Slim Whitman's touring troupe in  which Hoot played steel guitar. Like Whitman, they recorded for Imperial Records. Their  latest single at this time was the novelty "Country Singing". The drummer for Hoot and  Curley was Dominic Joseph (D.J.) Fontana, who was also the staff drummer on the  Hayride. D.J. later recalled playing at least one show with Elvis Presley at the Lake Cliff  before becoming his regular drummer. Whether this is that show is not known.
 
According to D.J. Fontana (Hayride staff drummer and occasion playing drums with Elvis until he joined the band in August 1955), ''We worked Shreveport one night. For years, I guess it still is, they had a country band there, Friday and Saturday night, cause I worked it regular. It was Hoot and Curley, you never heard of these guys. Hoot Raines... y'member Slim Whitman's records? Remember that steel that used to go éeeeee', well this was the cat that done all that, Hoot Raines, he was the one started all that high stuff. Anyway, we worked the club, and I've worked there before, and Friday and Saturday you couldn't stir 'em with a stick, that's how crowded it was''.
 
''Well stayed there... we got there, first hour and a half and it was packed, they thought their regular band was comin' on. We got up there, hooting and hollering and jumpin', and it thinned out sharply. Those people looked at us and said, 'That's not Hoot and Curley'. We finally got thru, there was five or six people left. Young people. And that was it. They weren't ready for it man. They never did book us back there again. Ruined the place. Nooo way! Get out! Wouldn't even let us stay in the motel''.
 
When the group came back to the Hayride that Saturday, November 20, the most important person to see was Hayride booker Pappy Covington. After the collapse of Tillman Franks' efforts to secure them gigs, Pappy had promised to see what he could do.
 
NOVEMBER 20, 1954 SATURDAY
 
Billboard mentioned Elvis appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride" on October 16th and 23rd.  The short article also mentioned that Elvis had signed a contract with the "Louisiana  Hayride". Tonight's headliner was Billy Walker, one of the performers on the July 30 show in Memphis. In early 1955, Walker would be instrumental in launching Elvis' career as a touring  artist in West Texas. There was also a list of the roster for the Hayride: Slim Whitman, Red  Sovine, Johnny Horton, Jimmy Newman, Tibby and Maxine Brown, Jimmy and Dido, Rowly,  Jeanette Hicks, Betty Amos, the Circle 6 Ranch Boys, Ginny Wright, Carolyn Bradshaw, Jack  Ford, Buddy Attaway, and the Lump Lump Boys.
 
Later recollections by both Scotty Moore and Tom Perryman, a disc jockey in Gladewater,  Texas, confirm that while the trio was staying in Shreveport, they were supposed to play  some clubs in the area. These shows had been booked by Tillman Franks, manager of the KWKH Artist Service, which was the booking agency for the Hayride's performers. These  promised bookings did not materialize. They ran short of money and were stuck in their  motel unable to pay their bills for lodging, dry cleaners, or gasoline for the return trip to Memphis a.m., "Pappy" Covington, another promoter with the Hayride, arranged a couple  of dates in East Texas for the group so that they could earn enough money to return to  Memphis. Perryman remembers that it was Franks who called to set up the shows to help out the stranded musicians.
 
Billboard yearly disc jockey poll listed Elvis Presley as the eighth most promising country  and western vocalist. What made Elvis' eighth-place finish astonishing was the fact that his  second record came out only five days before the balloting ended. "That's All Right" was only a hit in Memphis, and this means the disc jockey’s voted for Elvis Presley on the basis  of his reputation as a live performer and his very first recording. Sam Phillips had done an  excellent job of publicizing Elvis Presley, because most of the artists that Elvis Presley was competing against in the Billboard poll were under contract to major record companies. As  soon as "Good Rockin' Tonight" was released it jumped into the Memphis Top Ten.  Immediately, one-stop record distributors throughout the South reported brisk sales of  Elvis' second single. At WMPS radio, Bob Neal conducted his third annual poll of country  and western artists; Elvis Presley ranked tenth.
NOVEMBER 21, 1954 SUNDAY
 
It had long been thought that Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black made an appearance  in Houston on the "Old Texas Corral". This is most likely the Texas Hayride, a regular Sunday  afternoon gathering on the open outdoor stage at Magnolia Gardens in Houston. This is  perhaps the only time in Elvis' career that he sang wearing short sleeves.
 
It is also likely that he performed in the evening at Cook's Hoedown Club, located at 602  Capitol Avenue. Apparently, he was a big success, as he was invited to play another club  later in the week.
 
The reaction to Elvis Presley's Hoedown appearance was good, and he was held over "by  popular demand" for two additional nights, but to Biff Collie, who have a partnership in  the club, the nature of his act was about the same as what he had observed in Memphis.  The repertoire was extremely limited, and Elvis was obviously just learning the ropes,  though by now Biff Collie was beginning to see the light, even if he wasn't sure exactly  why. "I said, don't you do any slow songs?'. He said, 'I don't... I don't... I like to do these  things because they make me feel good, you know'. I said, 'Yeah, they like this stuff that  you are doing pretty good, it seems like, but this rhythm and blues stuff is not going to  stay forever. You really need to sing some slow songs'. His reaction was, 'I don't like... I don't... I just like to sing... You know, they make me feel good".
 
"That night after we were through we went across the street to Stuart's Drive Inn  restaurant, and we sat down at a booth and ordered something, and I saw Sonny Stuart  come through. His dad was the boss, and he was learning the business at the time. And I  winked at him and said, 'Just for fun, get the girl upstairs on the PA to page Elvis Presley'.  He said, 'How do you spell that?' And they did it three or four times over a period of  fifteen minutes, and, obviously, nothing happened. Nothing at all. And I remember telling  Elvis that night, 'One of these days you'll have to have somebody to keep you from getting  run over'. And that was, again, it was not because of what he had done there. I just felt  like something was going to happen".
MAGNOLIA GARDENS - Located at 1204 Beach Street, Houston, would become a frequent  stopping place for Elvis Presley on Sunday afternoons following his performances at the  Louisiana Hayride the night before. The Gardens was a open wooded area located south of  San Jacinto Road in Magnolia Park. This park is across the Houston Ship Channell (at that  time referred to as Buffalo Bayou) from the Port of Houston. In nice weather, the venue  attracted a large crowd made up of teenage couples and families with children. 
 
The stage  at Magnolia Gardens was a bare-wall, open-front shed, with little or no sound system and  nothing in the way of stage lighting. The Sunday afternoon hoe-downs Magnolia Gardens, Houston were a regular event, and there was no regular newspaper announcement.
NOVEMBER 22-23, 1954 MONDAY-TUESDAY
 
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black followed their Houston appearances by spending  several days in Gladewater, Texas. According to Hal Long, he and Tom Perryman were on hand when Elvis Presley arrived in  the morning on the bus. 
 
Scotty Moore and Bill Black drove to Gladewater later in the day, probably in Scotty's wife's 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air. The first matter of business was to find a  dry cleaners where Elvis could have his stage clothes cleaned and pressed.
 
Afterward,  Elvis promoted his performance by singing on Perryman's radio show, "Hillbilly Hit Parade",  that was broadcast locally from 10:05 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The studios of KSIJ were on the  top floor of the Lee Building, located at 800 Broadway Avenue on US Highway 80-east.  Elvis is remembered to have sung several songs while young women watched through the studio's large glass window.
 
"He was shake, rattle and rolling and we laughed", said Geraldine Mauldin. "We had never  seen anything like that. He looked out at us. His face turned red and he quit playing. We  embarrassed him".
NOVEMBER 23, 1954 MONDAY
 
Hal Long is certain that the first spot that Elvis Presley played in Gladewater was the Mint  Club on the Tyler Highway, just one of several juke joints sitting on the edge of town. Tom  Perryman remembers that tickets for the evening show were $1.00 a head. However,  according to both Perryman and Long, the crowd was not overwhelming.
 
Perryman has  said that he gave the band all the receipts plus money from his own pocket to make a total  of $90.00 to help Elvis and the band pay their Shreveport bills and buy gas to get them  back to Memphis.
 
Only adults could enter the Mint Club and the law was enforced strictly in this Bible-believin'  town, Thus, robbed of a potential teenage audience, Elvis Presley played to a sparse crowd  at the Mint. 
 
Elvis signed a Indianapolis contract, included Scotty Moore, Bill Black and other musicians to  appear on the Hank Snow Show on December 4-7, 1955. The contract is also signed by  Colonel Tom Parker. The Hank Snow Show played at the Lyric Theater in Indianapolis. When  Hank failed to make the first show due to bad weather, Elvis took over for him. Others on  the bill included Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters and comedian Rod Brasfield, who  was a regular on the Grand Ole Opry.
 
Knowing the trio was short on money, Perryman invited them to his house to eat. "I didn't  know what to think", said Mrs. Perryman. "We had this little house and all of a sudden it  was filled with people. Elvis was a little greasy looking, but I learned to like him. And he  was always polite. He always called me Mrs. Perryman, and he always called Tom... Tom".  "Elvis loved banana pudding, but he would eat almost anything", she said.
 
Elvis Presley had actually met Perryman in August 1954. In their initial conversation, Elvis  told Perryman that he, Scotty and Bill were broke, couldn't pay their motel bill, get their  clothes out of the cleaners or buy gasoline to back to Memphis.
 
"I had a friend, William Smith, who owned the Mint Club and I asked him if he'd give them the door and he take the bar if I brought them out", said Tom Perryman. "He said 'Come  on'. We went by the radio station first, and plugged the show. We went out there and I  think ninety dollars was all they took in. I normally got fifteen percent for my commission,  but that night, I didn't take anything. I gave it all to them. And Elvis never forgot that".
 
Art Attaway remembers the Elvis concert in the Gladewater gym where Elvis Presley  embarrassed a couple of girls after the show. "My friend and I had just started getting into  music about then", said Attaway. "He was playing guitar and I was playing banjo. After the  show, we went backstage to talk with Elvis. He didn't have security people surrounding  him at the time. We were talking music with him, asking him how long it had taken him to  get where he was, when these two girls started hanging around, and I don't think they  were after him for his autograph! Elvis made an off-colour remark to them, like 'Spread  your cheeks and smile at me'. They got offended and left".
 
"We asked him what key he played in and he laughed and said, 'Any key I can hit'. We  walked him to that pink Cadillac and there was popcorn all over that car".
 
Art Attaway later saw Elvis Presley at the Rio Palm Isle Club near Longview, "became a fan  of the first time I saw him", and remains a fan today. In addition, he has three daughters  who, each Christmas, still receive Elvis-related gifts.
 
There is a persistent rumour in Gladewater that Elvis Presley also appeared at the  Roundup Club on the TylerHighway. No advertisements have been found, but this time-frame best fits the scenario.  The Roundup was noted for its rough clientele, and there are some local residents who  feel that Elvis would never have ventured near the place. As will be seen, Elvis Presley did  perform in other roadhouses with at least as bad a reputation.
 
Ralph Woods of Gladewater, steel guitarist in a local hillbilly band in the 1950s, recalls Elvis  Presley dropping in almost nightly for a few days to sit in with the band. Woods says that at  this time he was playing at a club owned by Gene Wortham. This club was later called the Roundup. The stage on which Elvis Presley performed at the Roundup is now on display at an  antique store in Gladewater and still draws a few Elvis Tourists to the area.
 
Harold Brewer remembers Elvis Presley more for a kind-hearted gesture than what he did  on stage in Gladewater. "We had this poor boy in town, James Aubrey. He was about six  feet tall. They were so poor his mama cut his hair", said Brewer. "He didn't have the  money to get in to see Elvis play. After the show, Elvis was going out the side door. He saw  James Aubrey and he could see how poor he was. He put James Aubrey in his Cadillac and  drove him down to the Shamrock Cafe and bought him a cheeseburger and a Coke, then  brought him back up to the gymnasium. That always impressed me about Elvis".  Harold Brewer said that Elvis Presley loved hanging out at Watts Grocery, whose motto was  "We may doze, but we never close".
 
"He'd come in there every time he was in Gladewater and order three slices of baloney  and a box of crackers and he'd go over and stand in the corner and eat and never say a  word to anybody. He never drank. One day he came running into Watts Grocery and told  them to hurry it up, he needed a whole stick of baloney - now! There were these girls  chasing after him and he was trying to get rid of them. They gave him the stick and he ran  to the door, hung the stick between his legs and hollered, 'Hey girls', and began waving  that stick back and forth. That chased them away. That's funny, because my daddy always  said Elvis wore a sausage in his pants on stage".
 
"He never gave nobody no trouble", said Brewer. "He liked to eat down at the Shamrock Cafe  and sometimes they's stay at the Gladewater Resort Motel for six dollars a night and share a  room; sometimes Room 104".
(Above) The Mint Club, located at 2585 South Tyler Road, Gladewater, Texas, was bought by a preacher  sometime after 1995 with the intension into a church. He moved it almost directly across the highway  from its original location, but turned the building perpenducular to the highway. Church service in the  old building didn't last long and the building was never fully restored.
 
THE MINT CLUB - Hal Long vividly recalls that the Mint was "a juke joint, a hole in the  wall". It was an old green building at this time, locally referred to as the "Green Hut".  There was a small area, which might hold fifty people, toward the front of the building for  dancing with a bar off to the left.
 
The one feature of the Mint that distinguished it from  the halfdozen other roadhouses near Gladewater was the canvas canopy leading out from  the front door and covering the driveway. The original Mint Club burned to the ground  sometime later, only to be replaced by a similar structure. 
 
Gladewater was a small town located in the center of east Texas, a strongly religious  section of the country. According to Janice Welton of Gladewater, the Mint was one of the  several honky tonks just outside the city limits. Patrons had to be twenty-one years of age  to enter, so there were not many teenagers who were aware of Elvis' early shows in  Gladewater. She remembers that "Elvis Presley was considered by many families to be  unacceptable for children to see".
NOVEMBER 24, 1954 WEDNESDAY
 
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black may have played New Boston, a small east Texas  town near Texarkana. There are no advertisements for any performance in New Boston, but  he definitely appeared at least once here.  According to Cash Box, December 11, Elvis Presley appears on the bill with Johnny Horton  and Tibby Edwards at Municipal Auditorium, Texarkana, Arkansas on this day. 
 
A group of college kids from Texarkana had already checked out Elvis debut in Shreveport. They had been really excited and spread the rumour about this upcoming new artist.
 
KOSY disc jockey Jim Le Fan may not have needed any encouragement to bring in Elvis when Pappy Covington called him, as he already played Elvis' records on his popular radio show, and he had a perfect avenue for testing new talent on the weekly shows he arranged in the auditorium on Thursdays and Fridays. By not having his shows on Saturdays, he made it possible for Hayride artists to drop by Texarkana on their weekly tours around the area.
NOVEMBER 25-27, 1954 THURSDAY-FRIDAY
 
For the beginning of Thanksgiving weekend, Elvis Presley was booked for three days to play  the Paladium Club, 8100 South Main in Houston, Texas (the name of the club was apparently misspelled  intentionally).
 
The club was located at 1600 Old Spanish Trail at South Main. His performance  was originally scheduled for only November 25, but he was held over two additional nights.
 
The story is that Houston disc jockey Biff Collie at KNUZ radio certainly honoured his offer of work. After he had seen Elvis up in Memphis the week before, he contacted local Houston booker and club owner Tony Sepolio and asked him to get Elvis and his band for his Hoedown Jamboree Saturday night show at the Eagles' Hall in downtown Houston. Tony had done even better idea than that, by adding three nights at his own club, the Paladium, picking up from the Texarkana gig. Just a few weeks into his Hayride contract, Elvis used the clause in the contract permitting him to go elsewhere on Saturday every month. 
 
According to Tony Sepolio, ''I had a booking agency and a record company. Biff Collie had asked me to bring Elvis Presley for his Saturday night show. I decided to have him come to my club, the Paladium, on South Main, and booked him for three nights at 40 dollars per night. It was a huge thing, 2200 chairs, no air-condition, we had fans along the wall. He was a handsome young man. In those days, right next to the register, on the back of the bandstand, there was a big room, where I had all these cases of beer, and that's where Elvis would change before and after the show. He sat back there with his hands covering his face. And my wife would be at the cash register, and the girls would come up and ask, ''Hey, where is Elvis!''. And he said to her, ''Don't want to talk to them''. He would just sit back there contemplating. I thought he was a very smart boy. He just wore dress pants and a shirt. He didn't wear those country outfits.  The paladium normally had some people on Thursday and Friday night and 200 on Saturday night. But I believe we probably had about 200 the first two nights and 400 on Saturday. He didn't play the whole event; he was what we called a guest artist. He only put on a 200minute show. He could play at my place at 9:30, and he could go down and play at the ''Hillbilly Chapel'' at the auditorium (Eagles' Hall)''.
 
NOVEMBER 27, 1954 SATURDAY
 
The Saturday Hoedown Jamboree at Eagles Hall was done in conjunction with radio station KNUZ. That night another new, rising talent was on the bill, second to Elvis and Biff Collie, as George Jones played one of his regular gigs for KNUZ.
 
According to Fred Goree played in the Paladium house band in 1954, ''None of use had ever heard of Elvis. At that place, they had a guest star coming in''.
 
''I was standing up there with my steel guitar, and a bunch of people were gathering around the bandstand, and one of them asked, 'Where is Elvis?'. And I said, Í don't know. Elvis must be the guest star coming to be here with us tonight'. We stayed on the bandstand and played behind him. We didn't play that much''.
 
The shyness noted by Tony Sepolio is not what teenage girls Jo Ann French and her friend Kouida Experienced. Jo Ann remembers, ''My best friend's mother and stepfather owned a cafe/beer bar in Highlands just east of Houston in the middle of ''Urban Cowboy'' land. The jukebox man that serviced their establishment was, I suppose, at the direction of Sun Records, promoting this new talent, now featured on the Louisiana Hayride, and installed what was to be the beginning of a new era on our jukebox''.
 
''We could not believe our ears when we put our money in that box. Just his voice melted un into little puddles, and we did not yet know how handsome he was, but we decided he must be as beautiful as the voice. These were the early recordings of ''That's All Right'' and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''. Then the jukebox man tells us this guy is going to be appearing at the Paladium, a huge dance hall in Houston, and of course, at the ripe old ages of 16 and 17, we could not get in without an adult. So we embarked upon a campaign of pressure on my friend's mother and off we went. He was everything we ever dreamed of. He had on a pink and black vest, and Scotty and Bill wore western style shirts and slacks. We were on our feet as soon as he started to sing, and we got ourselves up as close to the bandstand as we could get. He sang ''That's All Right'' and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', and maybe ''Fool, Fool, Fool''. Kouida remembers how he would just go so smoothly and sweetly into a gospel song without warning. I especially remember ''Amazing Grace'', which he sang a cappella. He also spotted us, and lo and behold, we got him to out table during breaks, where we chatted, giggled, and I can't even remember what else. He signed cocktail napkins for us with little massages''.
 
''The first night, I know her mother had to go with us to get us in and neither of us can remember how we got in the second night. I think we still had our hand stamped from the previous night''.
 
''Anyway, after the show that night, Elvis invited us to go out for a sandwich with himself, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black, and there was no way my friend's mother could deny us this adventure. We were to meet her back at the Paladium parking lot following our ''outing''. When we went out to the old gold and white Chevrolet sedan with Sun Records magnetic signs on each side, and Elvis opened the door, he said, 'Ok, girls, who is going to get in back with me''? She said, 'Me''! and shot into that car before I could grab her by the hair of the head. However, Bill decided he would go on back to the motel and let the four of us go out. We went to the South Main Drive-in, just down the street from the Paladium. My friend and I scooted into one of those round booths with Scotty on my end and Elvis on hers. Elvis ordered a fried egg sandwich, 'and fry that eggs hard as a brick', he said, and an ice cream soda. We talked, flirted with Elvis, played records on those little jukeboxes we used to have in the booths. Elvis and Scotty made lots of fun of Pat Boone, who had a terrible voice we thought. Elvis would point out every time he hit a flat note. We went back to the Paladium, where Kouida and Elvis did a little huggin' and kissin', while I sat there and wished Bill Black had come along instead of Scotty. My friend's mom arrived and that was the end of that episode''.
 
According to Biff Collie, ''I got mail, i got requests. The Hoedown, my nighttime radio show at KNUZ, was getting 200-250 pieces of mail a day. I was probably getting 15-20 pieces of mail for ''That's All Right'', but that wasn't the most. I was getting 30-40-50 pieces of mail for things like ''Lovesick Blues'' (Hank Williams).
 
The first night Elvis, Scotty and Bill came, he did the numbers, the shake, the wiggle, the hip thing, and the girls went crazy. We didn't have a big crowd, but they were very vocal, and he was an animated performer. If I hadn't liked him at all, I would have been impressed professionally, because the people reacted vehemently''.
 
Lloyd C. Bowen said, ''The first time I remember was a Cook's Hoedown, and he was playing the breaks for another band of the time. This gave him lots of time to visit with the customers and sell pictures. I believe all of his early appearances in Houston were arranged by KNUZ disc jockey Biff Collie. Biff played his records a lot and got him all sorts of jobs in Houston. I played bass and rhythm guitar and had a band in 1954 called ''The Piney Woods Playboys'', so to some extent I was competition then. I was sitting with my friend, and fellow bass man, Wayne Keno one night, when Elvis came to sell pictures and talk. My grandmother was the pastor of the Irvington Pentecostal Church in Houston, and some gospel group was appearing the next day, and Elvis was aware of this and asked if I could get him in. I called my grandmother and told her I wanted to attend and bring a friend. She was overjoyed that I would come and didn't ask anything about my friend (I didn't attend her church very often). I picked him up the next day at a motel, I don't remember which one, and took him to the concert. No one recognized him, although several knew me''.
NOVEMBER 26, 1954 FRIDAY
 
Elvis Presley sends an Western Union Money Order Message to his father Vernon Presley. The  address on the telegram shows the Presley's address at 462 Alabama Street, Memphis, Tennessee with the following message: "Hi babies, here's the money to pay the bills. Don't  tell no one how much I sent I will send more next week. There is a card in the mail. Love  Elvis". This telegram was sent the day after Elvis Presley had performed at the Houston  Hoedown on November 21, 1954.
 
NOVEMBER 27, 1954 SATURDAY
 
After a week in East Texas, Elvis Presley returned to Shreveport for another appearance on  the "Louisiana Hayride".
 
Later this evening, he returned to the Paladium Club in Houston for one more evening of  entertainment. Elvis Presley was booked on a swing through Arkansas, Mississippi, and  probably Tennessee with Jim Ed and Maxine Brown and the Louvin Brothers. This tour  most likely began on November 29, and continued - with Saturdays off to play the Hayride  - for two weeks.
 
Elvis stopped working for Crown Electric in November because his increasing popularity  was demanding more and more of his time. Among the places that Elvis Presley and his  band played late in 1954 were Sweetwater, Lufkin, Longview, Boston, and Odessa, all in Texas.
 
NOVEMBER 28, 1954 SUNDAY
 
Elvis Presley had been booked for two shows at the South Hall of Ellis Auditorium in Memphis with Opry star Kitty Wells, Sonny James, and  once again Jimmy and Johnny. Even KWEM's disc jockey Texas Bill Strenght was slated to appear. The show is hosted by prominent Memphis disc jockeys Bob  Neal and Sleepy-Eyed John, but Elvis is unable to get back from Houston in time.
LATE NOVEMBER - EARLY DECEMBER, 1954
 
North Little Rock was almost certainly one of the stops for Elvis, the Browns and the Louvin  Brothers. The only clue comes in a Billboard item (January 8, 1955, on the Browns) that  mentions they were "Recently" guests on Cottonseed Jones' KXRL radio program in North  Little Rock. The timing of the item certainly points to North Little Rock being included in the  two-week tour.
 
Charlie Louvin said, "Country people didn't exactly know what he was doing. Ira thought  his music was a little too close to black and he told him so. Ira called him 'a white nigger''.
 
''I  would imagine that that statement probably cost the Louvin Brothers' music catalog a  couple million dollars, 'cause Elvis was on record saying the Louvin Brothers were his  favorite country singers. He got that from his mother. It was a bad thing, but there was no  way I could control (Ira)", Charlie said. "Jack Daniel's controlled him".
 
 
Early December, Bob Neal booked Elvis on a short tour of school house Auditoriums and  Gymnasiums in Arkansas, including St. Helena, North Little Rock and Texarkana, and  Mississippi. Also sharing the bill were Jim Ed and Maxine Brown and the Louvin Brothers.
 
On one afternoon early December 1954, at a country bar in Mississippi, Elvis Presley  cozied up to a woman who brazenly brushed his thigh with her fingertips under the table.  He was fired up, but she teased him by wanting to finish her drink before leaving. Like a  lot of women he met, she was attracted to the performer, with little interest in the man.  Elvis resented it, even if he was using them in a similar way - but not enough to walk  away. He'd get even later when they were alone.
 
She finally finished her drink, and as they got up to leave, an irate man grabbed her from  behind and spun her around. When Elvis Presley reached out for her, the man reared back  and took a swing at Elvis. "You son of a bitch, keep your filthy hands off my wife". Elvis  Presley ducked and the punch grazed the side of his head. The man plowed into Elvis and  they went flying over the tables, arms flying about wildly, trying to land a blow. A crowd  formed, urging them on, drowning out the pleading screams of the owner to stop. A  bouncer finally pulled them apart and pulled Elvis to a far corner.
 
The bouncer poked him in the chest. "Ain't right to fool with Jimmy's wife". "How was I  s'posed to know she was married? She came on t'me, rubbin' me up with her hand", Elvis  said. The bouncer shook his head. "I guess we'll let the sheriff figure it out". Elvis was  familiar with country justice and knew he was beat. He reached in his pocket but only had  a few dollars. "I'll pay, if can call someone. I don' want no hard feelin's. I really didn' know  she was married".
 
After his performance that night, Elvis insisted they leave for home right away. He was not  interested in staying one more night in the Mississippi area, half afraid the husband would  come gunning for him. He was finding out the hard way that fame and notoriety had some  down sides, and you had to be careful of angry boyfriends, jealous husbands, or plucky  red-necks who'd love to prove you weren't anything special and bring you down a notch.  Even among acquaintances back home, he sensed that very few people seemed genuinely happy for him. Instead, they seemed poised for him to fail. It was hard to completely  enjoy any measure of success when you're always looking over your shoulder. The only  people he trusted, other than his family and friends, were his audience.
 
UNKNOWN DATE LATE 1954
 
Elvis Presley performed in Leachville, Arkansas. Residents think this show comes from November or early  December, but they may just be confusing the date with the January 20, 1955, appearance. If not, then this  probably took place around the time of December 2, 1954, Helena show. A check of news sources came up  empty.
 
Though the majority of residents of Leachville are white, Hispanic residency has increased significantly in  the modern era, effecting a cultural change.
 
Current businesses include two banks, three restaurants (including a Mexican cafe), a drugstore, four gas  stations, a furniture store, an auto parts store, beauty salons, seven churches, and a branch of Blytheville’s  Arkansas Northeastern College. Howard Funeral Service was established in Leachville in 1917 and is the  oldest business in town still in operation. Medical needs are met by a Main Street clinic, a vital asset to the  farming industry and the Leachville community as a whole, since the city of Leachville is located thirty  miles from the nearest hospital.
 
The rejuvenated city park is behind the elementary school and offers baseball fields, tennis courts, a walking  track, barbecue grills, picnic tables, and playground equipment.
 
The city government is maintained by a small group, including the mayor, a city clerk/recorder, aldermen,  three police officers, and a police chief. City Hall is a modest building on Main Street next to the library and  the police station. It also houses the water company and a courtroom where local cases are tried.
DECEMBER 1, 1954 WEDNESDAY
 
In Texarkana at this time, Elvis Presley always appeared on Friday evening. this is verified by  several residents who were in their teens at the time, including Dewanda Jo Smith and Pat  Cupp. Carl "Cheesie" Nelson, age 16, was a high school student who had perfected an Elvis  imitation. Before what was probably Elvis' first Texarkana performance, he met Elvis  backstage at the Municipal Auditorium on Third Street.
 
Nelson so impressed Elvis with his  version of "That's All Right", that during the show Elvis brought Cheesie on stage and they sang a duet. Accompanying Cheesie that night, along with Scotty Moore and Bill Black, was  another high school student, Pat Cupp.
 
Cheesie Nelson worked the show "guarding the door upstairs", making sure there were no  gate crashers. The late Jim LeFan told Elvis Presley about his imitator and at intermission  arranged for the two to meet. Afraid of Elvis' reaction to what he had been doing, Cheesie  at first refused to meet the original, "but the whole football team picked me up and took  me backstage", he said. Elvis Presley was impressed. So much so he said he wanted to  bring Cheesy on stage with him after intermission and they would sing a duet "Dance With  Me Henry". As an encore, they sang "Fool, Fool, Fool" together.
 
Eddie Arnold, then KOSY's Gumdrop Kid in Texarkana emceed the show and remembers it  well. After the show, Arnold said, he and Elvis Presley double dated and they went to  Lacy's Drive-In and drank cherry Cokes. One day, weeks later, Nelson was at his dad's  service station on North Seventh in Texarkana when he heard someone shouting, "Hey,  Cheesy". He looked around and saw Elvis Presley standing beside his car. "Get in the car,  Cheesy, and come with me. I'm on my way to the Louisiana Hayride". But Cheesy didn't  melt. He stood his ground. After all, it was high school football season and there were just  more important things to do.
 
Carl "Cheesie" Nelson remembers seeing the Browns and the Louvin Brothers, although he  cannot remember if he performed with them or not. If he did, this would most likely place  this appearance close to the December 2 show in Helena, Arkansas. After the show, Nelson and Elvis double-dated in Elvis' pink Ford Crown Victoria. Carl Nelson, who is currently  president of Texarkana College, recalls that the show was promoted by Jim LeFan of KOSY  radio.
 
Pat Cupp is a long-time musician from this area going back to the Cupp Family. He was  lucky enough to be asked to fill in for Elvis Presley on the Louisiana Hayride in early 1956  while Elvis was off appearing on television. This led to a brief recording career on the  R.P.M. label in Los Angeles.
 
Ernest Hackworth, then as now, was "Uncle Dudley" on KTWN in Texarkana. Hackworth met  Elvis Presley on his first trip into Texarkana and the two became friends. He would often  drive to Shreveport to catch Elvis Presley on the Louisiana Hayride. Very impressed with  Elvis' showing on the Hayride, Hackworth called an old friend and said, "There's a kid at  the Hayride tearing 'em up. You've got to come down here and have a look".
 
And it was not long afterward Tom Parker and his wife, Marie, arrived, staying over with  the Hackworths. (It has been documented elsewhere that Elvis Presley, by this time, was  becoming disgruntled with his management and was seeking a change). Hackworth said after meeting Parker, Elvis Presley asked him what he thought of Parker becoming his  manager. "Look at Eddie Arnold", Hackworth remembers telling Elvis. "He took him and  made him a star. I've never heard anything bad about him". The rest, as they say, is  history.
 
On this month, Tom Parker, having convinced Vernon and Gladys Presley that he, and only  he, could navigate Elvis' career through the musical minefield ahead, took over his contract  from Bob Neal. Oddly, Neal turned it over without a whimper. Just as things were beginning  to happen, he stepped aside, keeping nothing for himself. Strange things were beginning to  happen in Elvis Presley's career.
 
"We knew he didn't want us around", says Scotty Moore. "Elvis was being brainwashed.  We'd be traveling together in the same car, and Elvis would bring up something, the  Colonel said so and so, I'd say, 'Elvis, you have to stand up and speak your mind. There's  nothing wrong with you arguing about something'. He's say, 'Ah, well, I made a deal with  him, I'd do the singing and he'd take care of the business'. He'd mumble and grumble about  it for a day or two and that'd be it. He'd go ahead and do whatever it was he didn't want to  do".
 
On this date, the Hyatt F.H.A. (Future Homemakers of America) in Fields, Louisiana, send  Elvis Presley an typed letter. The letter states that Elvis Presley and his band were listed  among two other bands as possibilities to play at an F.H.A fund raiser, and asks if he and  the band could come in February or March. Also questions whether Elvis would require a  fee or would be satisfied with a portion of the funds raised at the function. Elvis Presley  never played Fields, Louisiana.
DECEMBER 2, 1954 FRIDAY
 
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black played the Saint Mary's Parish Hall of the Catholic Club in Helena, Arkansas.  Also sharing the bill were Jim Ed and Maxine Brown, with Bob Neal acting as MC.  It is possible that the  Louvin Brothers along with Bob Neal also performed on this date, but they are not mention in pre-show ad. Five hundred tickets for this two-hour performance were available at Helena's Model Pharmacy at a cost of  75-cents each. Elvis reportedly received $12.00 for tonight's show.
 
According to Levon Helm, ''I think Bob Evans took us to the Catholic Club in Helena to see Elvis’ show. It was just Elvis, Scotty Moore  on guitar, and Bill Black on standup ''doghouse'' bass. No drums. There was a law that said you couldn’t have  a drummer in a place where drinks were served. Well, it was just a madhouse. Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins  and his band were also on the show, and they were great, but when the kids saw Elvis they went crazy. The  girls were jumping up and down and squealing at Elvis in his pink jacket and jet-black hair, and he was  wiggling and dancing during Scotty Moore's electric guitar solos, played with thumb and finger on the bass  strings while his other fingers picked the melody with lots of echo and reverb. It was fantastic, early  rockabilly, always circling and real bouncy, with an almost jazz feel to it. The kids around us were screaming  so loud it was hard to focus on what the musicians were doing; all I remember is they were rockin' down. It  was hot. It was crackin'. Bill Black was playing the down beat on the pull of a bass string, then doubleslapping the strings against the fretboard to hit the backbeat. At a break in the music he'd spin the bass  and Elvis would kick out his leg as he delivered the punch line of ''Good Rockin' Tonight''. I remember  Scotty's grin as he helped Bill bring the song back in while my own feet were tapping the deck with a life of  their own. Elvis was absolutely great''.
 
- Levon Helm, This Wheel’s On Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of the Band, pp 36-37
DECEMBER 3, 1954 FRIDAY
 
Elvis Presley to appear at the American Legion Hall in Mount Pleasant, Texas. Headlined on the show was Jim Ed and Maxine Brown. According to Gary Bragg, ''I listened to a lot of music, and one night I heard a singer sing a song called ''That's All Right''. I listened every night to hear that song again and to find out who the singer was.
 
It was so different to any of the country songs I listened to, and I couldn't get it out of my mind. I went to the record store to order the record, and they had never heard of Elvis Presley. I was probably listening to a radio station out of Memphis''.
 
''When the record store finally did get the record for me, I played it over and over again until I knew it by the heart. Sometime later, I was in town, and I saw this handbill in a window, advertising a music show coming to the American Legion Hall in Mount Pleasant. Headling the show was Jim Ed and Maxine Brown and in smaller letters under there heading was Elvis Presley. I could hardly wait until the day arrived''.
 
''The American Legion Hall was just five blocks from out house. My dad died when I was just three months old, so it was just my mother and myself, a teenager at the time. We did not own a car, so we walked if we went anywhere. We got to the hall, probably an hour early. There was nobody there but us, and some people from the local radio station. Jesse Pate and Bob Brown were disc jockeys for the KIMP station in Mount Pleasant''.
 
''I needed to use the restroom, But I found out that the two Brown sisters were using it for a dressing room. There was only one restroom in the building. There was a Gulf station next door, so I went over there. When I got there, the door was not locked, so I went on in, but it was occupied. This guy was standing there looking in the mirror, combing his hair. He had a rust colored suit on, and there were two belts hanging from the back of the jacket. Evidently he was about ready to leave because he picked up a bag and walked out of the restroom. We both walked around to the front of the station, and we both gos a drink from the machine. This guy wasn't dressed like anybody I had ever seen. He had on a pair of wing tip shoes and there were no heels. They were just flat. Sometime during our conversation I found out that he was with the music show and that he was Elvis Presley. At the time I had not seen a picture of Elvis. I told him he was the reason I was going to the show. We walked back over the Legion Hall together and went by his car, and he either put something in it or took something out. We went into the hall, and he started tuning up for the show. Elvis sing several song, a Hank Williams song, ''Old Shep'', another or two, and ''That's All Right''. Bill Black was slappin' the stand-up bass, sounding like a drum. As he played, he kind of slapped it in time, and that gave a ''thump, thump'' sound like on his recordings. I was disappointed when he left and the Browns came on''.
 
''There was a girl who lived across the street from me, and I could not wait to tell her about seeing Elvis Presley. She was three years older than me''.
 
And than according to Nancy Holcomb, ''My friend and neighbor, Gary Bragg, had invited me to go with him, but I did not go as I had never heard of Elvis at that time. The next morning, Mac (Gary Bragg) came over and told me what I had missed''.
 
''Therefore, the very next weekend, I talked my parents into taking me to Shreveport, Louisiana, to see him there It (the Mount Pleasant show) was December 3, 1954, and I went to see him at the Louisiana Hayride on December 11, 1954, as it is duly recorded in my diary''.
 
According to Bonnie Brown, sister of Jim Ed and Maxine said, ''I wasn't on stage but spent the whole time in the backroom with Elvis, the place was full of props, and I remember Elvis combing his hair in front of the mirror all the time. He kept asking me if I wasn't going on stage to sing, but I wasn't''.
 
Jack Blackburn said, ''The National Guard was sponsoring and I took up tickets. There was no big crowd, I'd say somewhere around fifty. I was a guardsman, and Fred Bright was the commander. Fred Bright got Elvis Elvis to come to Mount Pleasant''.
 
Mrs. Bright said, ''Elvis was to play at the Louisiana Hayride the next night. He didn't have the money to get there, and Fred lent him cash. Elvis came back through and paid the debt''.
 
After the Legion Hall show, the band proceeded to Alps Cafe, before heading for Shreveport.
 
DECEMBER 4, 1954 SATURDAY
 
Elvis Presley performed his regular Saturday night gig on the Louisiana Hayride, Municipal  Auditorium, Shreveport, Louisiana.
 
DECEMBER 7, 1954 TUESDAY
 
Marty Robbins recorded his version of "That's All Right", which was issued by Columbia  Records (21351). This was the first cover version of a song recorded by Elvis Presley.  Although Robbins' version is more country-oriented than Elvis', it is closer to Elvis' record  than to the original by Arthur Crudup. Robbins version also outsold Elvis' record by a large  margin.
 
DECEMBER 8, 1954 WEDNESDAY
 
Elvis Presley, Texas Bill Strength, and the Parker Brothers Band performed at the P & G parking lot in West Memphis, Arkansas. According to Paul Burlison said that Elvis sang with him and Johnny and Dorsey sometime in 1953, long before Elvis recorded ''That's All Right''. Burlison claimed the event happened at J & S Motors, a used car lot that hired the trio to perform, and was broadcast live over KWEM in West Memphis. It is most likely Burlison was actually referencing the show from 1953, the show at P & G's car dealership on this date.
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
According to a Sun Records "session sheet", Elvis apparently attempted to record "Tomorrow Night" and "Uncle Pen" during a session on this date. No other information is available, and the tape from this session was not transferred to RCA Victor in December 1955.
 
Sam Phillips' one-man campaign to merchandise Elvis' records was aided by Bob Neal's promotional skills. As a result of their combined expertise, Bob Neal and Sam Phillips persuaded the press to focus on Elvis' stage show.
 
There was a strong demand for a new Presley record, prompting Sam Phillips to schedule another recording session prior to Christmas. There was still no national recognition for Elvis' records, but the first two Sun singles had a strong regional success. 
 
STUDIO SESSION FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1954
 
SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION 5: WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 8, 1954
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
 
The recordings marked with an asterisk(*) are included because of interviews with Sun session musicians.
 
01 - "TOMORROW NIGHT" - A.S.C.A.P.
Composer: - Sam Coslow-Will Grosz
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Probably Tape Box 10 - Sun Unissued/Lost
Recorded: - December 8, 1954
 
02* - "UNCLE PEN" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Bill Monroe - Written in 1951
The song was based on Monroe's real-life uncle, Pendleton Vandiver.
Publisher: - Unichappel Music
Matrix number: - None - Probably Tape Box 10 - Sun Unissued/Lost
Recorded: - December 8, 1954 - Acetate
 
"I know the song", recalled Sam Phillips. "No I don't remember Elvis him recorded this. I would have been the only one that would've recorded it at Sun and I do not remember that, I would almost stand on that flat-footed and say that, but like you say, it's been a long time - I don't remember that".
 
03* - "JUANITA" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Rufus Thomas-Willis-Stone
Publisher: - Burton Limited
Matrix number: - None -  Probably Tape Lost
Recorded: - December 8, 1954 - Source: Rufus Thomas
Released: - Sun Unissued
 
Rufus Thomas recorded "Juanita" at Sun Records on Monday, April 21, 1952. The master was sold to Chess Records in Chicago, who released it a few months later. "Juanita" (Chess 1517) did not chart. Some have said that Elvis Presley sang "Juanita", on tour in 1955 and may have recorded it while at Sun Records. Possible dates: February 6, 1955; November 13, 1954; or something in December 1954.
 
A few years later, when Rufus Thomas recorded "Juanita" for Sun Records in April 1952, Sam Phillips didn't believe in its commercial possibilities. As a result, it had been sold to Chess Records. It failed to make the charts. "Sam Phillips sold me the damned song to get even with me", Leonard Chess recalled. Why Elvis Presley selected the song for his act is a mystery. Rumour has it that Elvis Presley watched Thomas perform "Juanita" in local clubs. Combined with that, it probably was simply due to his penchant to experiment with rhythm and blues songs, coupled with the fact that he had just visited with Rufus Thomas in Memphis.
Neither songs was satisfactory, and Sam Phillips shelved the tapes. They also failed to cover Rufus Thomas' "Juanita". While Elvis Presley was recording, Sam Phillips informed him that Marty Robbins had just released a cover version of "That's All Right". Ironically, Robbins' rockabilly cover, which owed little to Arthur Crudup's blues version, outsold Elvis Presley's tune. It was frustrating to Elvis Presley that a country artist could bastardize a blues tune and have it sell so well. He didn't begrudge Robbins his success, but the episode served to intensify Elvis' search for unique material. He hoped to come up with a blues tune that would fit his style.
 
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
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
(Above) A handpainted cardboard poster advertising Elvis Presley performing in person at the Eagle's Nest  Club. The  Eagle's nest was located just outside of Memphis on Highway 78, where this poster hung in the  doorway. Presley  performed 16 times at the Eagle's Nest in 1954. This poster was purchased from "the back room" of  the Eagle's  Nest by Elvis memorabilia expert Rosalind Cranor, who later sold the piece to Los Angeles KRTH 101  disc jockey Brian Beirne in the 1980s. The poster has been signed in silver marker by Scotty Moore and DJ  Fontana.  36 by 24 inches. It was made for Elvis Presley's December 10, 1954 gig at the Eagle's Nest.
 
DECEMBER 10, 1954 FRIDAY
 
Elvis Presley's for last performance at the Eagle's Nest Night Club in Memphis, Tennessee, and performed an acoustic version of "Milkcow  Blues Boogie". After the weak applause, Elvis Presley was convinced that the song lacked  commercial appeal. Sam Phillips was right. He finished his brief fifteen-minute intermission  stint that night at the Eagle's Nest with "That's All Right", "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" and "Good Rockin' Tonight".
 
DECEMBER 11, 1954 SATURDAY
 
In the "Folk Talent & Tunes" column in Billboard, it was reported that "the hottest piece of  merchandise on the "Louisiana Hayride" at the moment is Elvis Presley, the youngster with  the hillbilly blues beat".
 
Elvis made another appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride". He was also a guest on the "Red  River Roundup" record show, which followed the "Hayride" on KWKH radio at 11:00 p.m., the  latter hosted by "Balin"-wire Bob Strack. Strack kidded Elvis Presley about his music, remarking that Presley's records were very popular. Pointing his finger out the window,  Strack laughed as fifty lovesick girls stared through the KWKH glass pane. Strach commented  on other signs of Presley's popularity. The screams from girls in the audience at the "Hayride", Strack remarked were not typical of the show. "You're something special", Strack  informed Elvis Presley. Strack also commented that phone calls requesting Elvis' music  tripled when he performed in the Shreveport area. During the interview, Strack asked Elvis  Presley about his success: "I never had too high hopes or ideals, because... the  circumstances of our lives didn't give room to dream too big...", Elvis Presley responded.  This humility was honest and characteristic of Elvis Presley during his early years. He was  still unaffected by show business.
DECEMBER 13, 1954 MONDAY
 
Handwritten letters. Sent from Scotty Moore in Memphis to Tom Diskin at Jamboree  Attractions in Chicago. Moore writes: ''I would like some information in regard to your  company as to whether it is a publishing company or if you do booking... I am the personal  manager of Elvis Presley, a Sun recording Star who has two current hit records ''Blue Moon Of  Kentucky'' b/w ''That's All Right'' and ''Good Rockin' Tonight'' b/w ''I Don't Care If The Sun  Don't Shine''.
 
''I would like to have this information as I am interested in booking I would  appreciate any information you could give me in regard to someone who does booking in  Chicago territory. Tank you, Scotty Moore, 983 Belz Street, Memphis, Tennessee.
 
Tom Diskin responds: ''Thank you so much for your letter regarding your artist and while we  are a booking and promotion agency I don't have anything at present where I could place  your artist. There are few outlets for hillbilly entertainers in this area around Chicago.  Kindest Regards, Tom Diskin. 
 
At the time Moore's letter was written the guitarist was acting manager of the group, Elvis  wouldn't sign with Bob Neal until January 1, 1955. Tom Diskin was booking the Chicago area  for Colonel Tom Parker and sent this relected latter to Moore without the knowledge that  Colonel Tom Parker had seen Elvis perform just two days earlier in Texas, and was interested  in the young performer. Two days after sent Disking this letter he and the Colonel would see  Elvis perform at the Louisiana Hayride, and the Colonel; would speak to Bob Neal about  becoming involved with Elvis career.
DECEMBER 14-17, 1954 TUESDAY-FRIDAY
 
At some point during this time, most likely before Christmas, Elvis Presley makes an  appearance in Gladewater, Texas, at a show put on at the Mint Club by Tom Perryman, a local  disc jockey, who will continued to book Elvis in the northeast Texas area well into the following year. Because newspaper ads either do not exist or simply have not been found,  his earliest appearances in this region have yet to be precisely dated.
 
DECEMBER 16, 1954 THURSDAY
 
Elvis Presley visited with his girlfriend Dixie Locke and others the Flamingo Night Club on Beal Street went to see blues guitarist Calvin Newborn doing while playing the guitar.  For four years, the Newborn Orchestra performed at the Plantation Inn in West Memphis, Arkansas, before moving back across the river to Clifford Miller’s Flamingo Room in downtown Memphis.
 
Incendiary photographs by Ernest Withers and George Hardin capture Calvin’s on stage energy: He danced, leapt, and slid across the floor with his guitar in his hands, never missing a note.
 
“My hang time was like Michael Jordan’s, but I was dunkin’ the guitar!” Calvin boasts today. “I was known as Flying Calvin, the king of after-hours blues on Beale Street.” A young Elvis Presley, a frequent haunt of Beale Street clubs, would later borrow moves like these after becoming a close friend of Calvin and the Newborn family.
DECEMBER 18, 1954 SATURDAY
 
Elvis Presley again appeared on the Louisiana Hayride, Municipal Auditorium, Shreveport,  Louisiana. While driving to appear on the Saturday, December 18, 1954, "Louisiana Hayride"  show, Elvis Presley thought a great deal about his upcoming recording session and it was  important to record another regional hit record.
 
According Carolyn Bradshaw, ''I had been out to California to do a show with Ernie Ford. He had a daily radio show and a Saturday night TV show in Los Angeles. There was a young woman on the show who was pregnant, and I replaced her the last three months of her pregnancy. When I came back to the Hayride, Elvis was there. All the girls were telling me, 'You're gonna have to see this new guy, wow''! I was thinking, 'Who is this upstart? He can't be that hot'. When I saw him, it wasn't just that he was magnetic, like an electric eel, he was exactly my type''.
 
''I was seventeen. I didn't have a contract with the Hayride, it was just agreed that I would be there every Saturday night. I came back from California just before we got into the Christmas Holidays''.
 
Elvis includes Otis Williams and the Charms "Hearts of Stone" and Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle  And Roll", two current rhythm and blues hits, along with his more familiar repertoire as ''That's All Right'', and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''.
 
Carolyn was presented that night as a special guest, and Elvis Presley instantly invited Carolyn to come out for a few shows the next week.
 
UNKNOWN DATE WINTER 1954
 
At the abandoned service station at Jackson and Manassas Street in Memphis, an old couple,  about 75 years old, opened a mom-and-pop cafe in the building, serving hamburgers and  short orders. They put in a jukebox and they had Elvis' songs on it. Once the kids at Humes High found out, they started flocking to that place for lunch. "Rube Boyce and I were  assigned to keep order in the cafeteria at lunch and it wasn't long before we were notice a  50 to 75 percent dropoff in kids in the cafeteria", recalled Malcolm Phillips, coach of Humes  High, "They were all going over to that place on the corner to eat hamburgers and play Elvis  songs on the jukebox. They would pull that jukebox to the door and put their nickels in, play  Elvis records and dance in the parking lot. T.C. Brindley, the principal, made an announcement one day that from that moment on the kids would have to have a pass to get  off the school grounds during school hours. He was trying to stop them from going over there  for lunch", says Malcolm. "And he checked closely. Still, about 25 percent of the kids managed somehow to get off-campus passes for lunch".
DECEMBER 19, 1954 SUNDAY
 
Elvis Presley visit Scotty Moore's apartment for rehearsal for his next Sun session the next  day. First they did an old blues number that had become a western swing standard in  different versions by Bob Wills and his brothers, Billy Jack and Johnnie Lee, over the years.
 
The new version opened up in a beautiful, slow, lilting blues tempo that almost seemed to  tease the listeners, until Elvis Presley announced, with just a trace of amusement in his  voice, "Hold it, fellas, that don't move me. Let's get real, real gone for a change". And  plunged into what became known as "Milkcow Blues Boogie".
 
The other side was a new song  by a Covinton, Tennessee, theater manager named Jack Sallee, whom Sam Phillips had met  when he came into the Memphis Recording Service to make some promos for his Friday night  hillbilly jamboree. Sam Phillips said he was looking for original material for his new artist,  and Jack Sallee went home and wrote a song "You're A Heartbreaker" was the first of Elvis'  songs on which Sam Phillips owned the publishing, and it was also the closest that they had  come to date to an explicitly country number.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Since blues tunes were important to Elvis Presley, he searched for an obscure blues song, settling on a tune by a Georgia bluesman, Kokomo Arnold. After launching his music career in the South, Arnold had moved to Chicago and made his living bootlegging whisky. Music was a sideline for him, but Arnold was a still a historically significant bluesman who influenced many performers.
 
Sam Phillips liked the idea of using "Milkcow Blues Boogie" because he believed that a rhythm and blues or blues tune couplet with a country ballad was still the best way to advance Elvis Presley's career. The recording session was an excellent one. Elvis Presley started slowly, then announced, "Hold it, fellas let's get real real gone".
 
According to Sam Phillips, ''It's called ''Milk Cow Blues'' there was no boogie on it. I took the liberty of taking the old country song and called it ''Milkcow Blues Boogie''. It was a play, kinda like ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''. Who would take an old broken down hillbilly song called ''Milk Cow Blues'', and attempt to foister it upon the public? We did. You have to get people's attention in different ways. I didn't listen to the market to see, you could get confused like that, if you were trying to do something other than being a copyist''.
 
And about the slow and fast arrangement he said, ''Well, that was my suggestion, and I was always very hesitant to put words on the front end, because of jukeboxes. At that time they didn't like the spoken words, Elvis he loved Bill Kenny of the Ink Spots so much, and Bill's narrations, that Elvis really instinctively was pretty damned good at it''.
He then completed an extraordinarily vigorous version of the song. After listening to the cut, however, Sam Phillips had some  reservations about "Milkcow Blues Boogie". He believed that Elvis' version lacked the ingredient necessary to become either a country or pop hit. Sam Phillips suggested they try another tune.
 
A payment slip of November 15 seems to indicate a session date, but it may be a falsification; December 8 has also been mentioned as a possible date for this session. Its more than likely that other songs were tried out on the session, although apparently no other tapes survive. RCA never received master tapes our outtakes from this session from Sun; their masters were dubbed from a SUN 78rpm.
 
STUDIO SESSION FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1954
 
SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION 6: MONDAY DECEMBER 20, 1954
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
01 - "MILKCOW BLUES BOOGIE" - A.S.C.A.P. - 2:38
Composer: - James "Kokomo" Arnold
Publisher: - Leeds Music Incorporated Limited - MCA Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U-140 - Unknown Take
Recorded: - December 20, 1954 - Sales 20,600 copy's
Going on forty-five years later, and it still works - that corny false start, Elvis Presley mewling like okey country bluesman (see, he could have gone to Havard), then breaking off command, "Holt it fellas!", "That's don't move me", "let's get real... real gone, for a change". "Wellllllll", before crashing into a jumped up, hiccuping version of the same tune. Had Sam Phillips subtitled it "HISTORY LESSON NUMBER ONE", the point couldn't have been clearer. 
Or more irrefutable.
Released: - December 28, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 215-A mono
MILKCOW BLUES BOOGIE / YOU'RE A HEARTBREAKER
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-3-23 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
"Milkcow Blues Boogie"
 

Well, I woke up this morning,
And I looked out the door.
I can tell that old milk cow
By the way she lowed.

Hold it fellows, that don't move me.
Let's get real, real gone for a change.

Well, I woke up this morning
And I looked out the door
I can tell that that old milk cow
I can tell the way she lowed.

Well, if you've seen my milk cow,
Please ride her on home.
I ain't had no milk or butter
Since that cow's been gone.

Well, I tried to treat you right,
Day by day.
Get out your little prayer book
Get down on your knees and pray.
For you're gonna need,
You're gonna need
your loving daddy's help someday.
Well, then you're gonna be sorry
For treating me this way.
Well, believe me, don't that sun
look good going down?
Well, believe me, don't that sun
look good going down?
Well, don't that old moon look lonesome
When your baby's not around.

Well, I tried everything to
get along with you.
I'm gonna tell you what I'm going do.
I'm gonna quit my crying,
I'm gonna leave you alone.
If you don't believe I'm leaving,
you can count the days I'm gone.
I'm gonna leave.
You're gonna need your
loving daddy's help someday.

Well, you're gonna be sorry
You treated me this way.

A theater manager from Covington, Tennessee, was the first to come to Sam Phillips' rescue: Jack Sallee ran the Ruffin Theatre, which hosted a hillbilly jamboree on Friday nights. He went to the Memphis Recording Service to record a few promo shots for the show, and listened while Sam Phillips related his dilemma for original material. A few days later, while eating breakfast, Sallee came up with the idea for "You're A Heartbreaker". He made a rough demo for Sam Phillips who liked it. The song was Sallee's first and last published composition. It was an undistinguished piece of material (one of the few Presley songs that almost no one has attempted to cover or revive), but Phillips owned the rights to it and Elvis Presley duly recorded it.
 
On "You're A Heartbreaker", drummer Jimmie Lott was brought in to augment Elvis Presley's sound. Lott was a well-known local drummer, but the use of a drummer was a major change for Elvis' music. No record was kept of which cuts Lott played on, but he probably also appeared on an alternate cut of "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone".

02(1) - "YOU'RE A HEARTBREAKER" - B.M.I. - 2:12
Composer: - Charles "Jack" Alvin Sallee
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U-414 SUN - BOX 9
Recorded: - December 20, 1954 - Sales 20,600 copy's
Released: - December 28, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 215-B mono
YOU'RE A HEARTBREAKER / MILKCOW BLUES BOOGIE
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-3-24 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

02(2) - "YOU'RE A HEARTBREAKER" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Charles ''Jack'' Alvin Sallee
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - BOX 9
Recorded: - December 20, 1954
Released: - Unissued

"You're A Heartbreaker"

You're a heartbreaker,
You're a love faker,
A heartbreaker playing with fire.
You're a tear snatcher,
You're a quarrel patcher,
But you can't break my heart anymore,
For I just found someone else
who's sure to take your place.
Someone I can always trust
and to fill this empty space.

You're a heartbreaker,
You're a love faker,
But you can't break my heart anymore.

You're a smooth talker,
You're a real cool walker,
But now you have talked out of turn.
You're a high stepper,
You're a eye-catcher,
But you won't catch my glances anymore.
For I just found someone else
who's sure to take your place,
Someone I can always trust
and to fill this empty space.

You're a heartbreaker
You're a love faker,
But you can't break my heart anymore.

You're a heart breaker
You're a love faker,
A heartbreaker playing with fire.
You're a tear snatcher,
You're a quarrel patcher,
But you can't break my heart anymore.
For I've just found someone else
who's sure to take your place.
Someone I can always trust
and to fill this empty space.

You're a heartbreaker,
You're a love faker,
But you can't break my heart anymore.

Unlike most artists who recorded for Sun, Elvis Presley did not turn up on the doorstep of 706 Union with a guitar case full of original songs. Presley was more likely to have heard a tune on the radio or jukebox, become obsessed with it, and to have worked up a novel arrangement with Scotty Moore and Bill Black. Although this gave music journalists something to write about, it was a costly procedure for Sam Phillips. Every Presley record pressed on Sun provided income for a music publisher. That income came out of Phillips' pocket.

By the third record Presley recorded for Sun, Phillips was determined to get at least one of his copyrights on the disc. This resulted in "You're A Heartbreaker", one of the weakest, least reissued tunes in the Presley/Sun archives.

When Elvis Presley left the session, he was still very happy with "Milkcow Blues Boogie". Keeping with his timetested procedures, Sam Phillips allowed that it was best to test the new tune before a live audience. Actually, all the ingredients for a mainstream rock and roll hit had coalesced during the recording of "You're A Heartbreaker". The echo used in the song, for example, contributed an early, almost mystical quality to it, and the instrumental background was raw and energetic.

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)
Jimmie ''James'' Lott - Drums (Gretsch Round Badge Kit)
Doug Poindexter - Acoustic Rhythm Guitar

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

JAMES "KOKOMO" ARNOLD - Also known as "Gitfiddle Jim", born in Lovejoy, Clayton County,  just South of Atlanta, Georgia, on February 15, 1901, Arnold was influenced by John Wigges, and was an unlikely musical influence upon Elvis Presley.
 
He interested in music early and  learned some guitar from his influenced cousin John Wigges at the age of 10, he later raised and worked on the farm through his teens. His nickname "Kokomo" is from title of his 1934  song "Old Original Kokomo Blues". (Kokomo is a coffee brand).
 
Arnold moved in 1919 from Georgia to Buffalo, to work outside music, occasionally worked  on small clubs in Buffalo area from 1924. He also worked with Willie Morris in the local  clubs of Glen Allen , Mississippi in late 1920s.
 
He also moved to New York, where he  learned his music in the streets. In 1929 Arnold moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he made  and sold bootleg whisky much of his life. Arnold worked mostly from 1929 to 1930s outside  the music with occasional gigs in the local clubs and juke joints in the area.
 
In 1930, he recorded for the Victor label in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1934 to 1935 for the  Decca label in Chicago, and recorded in 1936 for the Decca label in New York City and  Chicago. He was also a musician who had a race hit in 1934, "Old Original Kokomo Blues".  The flip side to this record was "Milk Cow Blues", which Elvis Presley recorded as "Milkcow  Blues Boogie". Believed he recorded and accompaniment with Oscar's Chicago Swingers for the Decca label in Chicago, Illinois, and worked on 33rd Street Club in Chicago in 1937,  recorded for the Decca label in Chicago in 1937 and in New York City in 1938.
 
Kokomo  Arnold worked also in the Club Claremont in Chicago in 1939, in Ruby's in Chicago in 1940,  and worked mostly outside the music in Chicago in the area from 1940. By 1941 Arnold  had given up music and returned to work in local steel mills.
 
Kokomo influenced artists as Elmore James, Robert Johnson, Fred McMullen, Sam  Montgomery, Curley Weaver and Elvis Presley. Kokomo Arnold was one of the great post-  Depression bluesmen, and was one of the greatest blues singers ever recorded.   Worked in 1962 for the gate Of Horn in Chicago, he later suffered a heart attack at home, he   moved to and died on November 8, 1968 in the DOA at Provident Hospital in Chicago.   Kokomo Arnold is buried at the Burr Oak Cemetery in Worth, Illinois.
DECEMBER 22, 1954 WEDNESDAY
 
It is possible that Elvis Presley on this date played the Lake Cliff Club in Shreveport on this  date. For this special holiday gig, the trio was paid $100 each, which they looked upon as  a Christmas bonus. The source for this date reportedly comes from Elvis.
 
About two days  before Christmas following a Shreveport club date, Elvis recalled, he Scotty and Bill were  en route back to Memphis. Elvis Presley was asleep in the back seat when Scotty Moore  was stopped for speeding in Mississippi, probably on Highway 61. As a holiday gift from the  officer, they were allowed to continue with only a warning.
 
"I thought, here goes my Christmas money for a traffic ticket. But the officer let us go with  a warning... After the officer left, the three of us got out of the car and counted our  money by the car headlights. The money was mostly in dollar bills. Man, that was the most  money I ever had in my pockets at one time! I blew the whole bundle the next day for  Christman presents", recalls Elvis Presley in a 1966 interview with Memphis Commercial Appeal reporter James Kingsley.
DECEMBER 23, 1954 THURSDAY
 
The graduating class of Hawkins High School faced a senior moment; the Class of 1954 trip to  Panama City, Florida, loomed near, and the fudge sales hadn't raised enough cash to get  them even to Longview. So three enterprising young men zipped over to Shreveport on the  weekend to catch the Louisiana Hayride and hopefully convince one of its singers to do a  show at their alma mater.
 
One of the new singers of the Hayride broadcast, some guy with the unlikely name of "Elvis,"  seemed perfect for the job; he was hip, he was now, he was within their limited budget.
 
The  three pounced on their victim as he exited the auditorium. Doil Stone, high school senior  and future salesman-of-the-year, explained their impoverished situation. Performer and  performers struck a deal and sealed it with a hand-shake. Elvis would play at the Hawkins  High School gym in December.
 
Tonight's show was in the middle of an oil field at the High School Gymnasium in Hawkins,  Texas. Admission for this 8:00 p.m. show and dance that followed was $1.00 for adults. On  this Friday afternoon, Elvis Presley and his band wheezed into town in a yellow Bellaire,  borrowed from Scotty's wife, Bill Black's bass strapped to the roof. They rambled up the  main drag and turned into the high school parking lot stashed behind the downtown strip.
 
They unloaded the Chevy in the parking lot, piece by piece, hugged the equipment to the  bassbal gym, where a narrow two-foot-high platform had spontaneously appeared overnight  with the help of some industrious high school elves.
 
While they assembled and tested the mikes, amps, lights, and other band paraphernalia, the  town's pride and joy, the Hakin's Hawks hooped it up fifteen feet from the stage, preparing  to defeat their East Texas rivals with Jordan-esque moves. 
 
Forty minutes into the practice,  the basketbal players heard a disembolied voice behind them.
 
Mind if I play? Asked the newcomer with sideburns.
 
Team captain Billy Bob Pruit looked the skinny singer over, sizing up the competition. Sure,  he said. Someone, get that kid a jersey and shorts. (Apparently Elvis didn't resemble much  of a threat.)
 
Elvis eventually lured Scotty and Bill into the game, and in the end, the evenings'  entertainment retired with a net worth of 20+ points, depending on who's telling the story.  Fortunately, NBA scouts were not lurking that day, or history might have turned out very differently.
 
That night the inhabitants of the Humble Oil town had turned out in groves of droves, some  out of curiosity, some because there wasn't much else happening on a Friday night in East  Texas. Although that marvelous invention called "television" started making its debut across  the country, few homefolk actually owned one. And even if your family splurged and bought  a set, the TV signal in most of Texas was still too weak to receive clear images. The good  news was that in most of East Texas, you had a choice of three channels, a virtual smorgasbord of selection. The bad news was that they all broadcasted snow.
 
So most of the population of the oil town turned out, as well as the bored and restless from  neighboring villages. At a buck a pop, the closer geographically.
 
A deliriously happy and financially prosperous Doil Stone and his equally ecstatic coconspirators  welcomed the musicians as the entertainers rolled to a stop in front of the  gymnasium. To open the show, Elvis invited petite stunner and on-again off-again girifriend Carolyn Bradshaw of the Hayride. She was  Carolyn Bradshaw, 1954 promptly whisked away to the girls' locker room to prepare, as the gentlemen retired to their respective abode to await their cue.
 
After a tantalizing period of time, Elvis vaulted to the stage in the memorable pink and black  suit that would soon serve as his trade-enthusiastic roar from the pumped-up crowd. Like a foreshadowing of this time next year, girls screamed, cried, and did their impression of pogo  sticks in saddle oxfords.
 
Younger girls in the audience laughed at the hysterics of the older  girls, and in the back of the auditorium, student Don Dierlam frantically adjusted his new  gadget, a reel-to-reel tape recorder, in an mark costume. Leg twitching, he launched into school trip to Florida suddenly seemed much "Hearts of Stone," only to be met with an early  attempt to become a Napster executive.
 
Much to his chagrin, the tape later revealed static,  a couple of F sharps, and enough screaming to rival the Roman lion dens.  The jam session ended with a "Shake, Rattle, and Roll," literally. Students, reluctant to lose  the concert high, bought souvenir pictures hawked by Bill Black for fifty cents and waited to  get the signature of the wild man they had just heard on stage.
CHRISTMAS WEEK 1954
 
A letter from Sun Record Company' Marion Keisker mentioning Elvis’s third Sun  single. A straight manufacturing-business letter from Marion Keisker, the woman and office manager of Sun  Records who first encountered the young Elvis Presley several times before owner Sam Phillips became  involved. The first three paragraphs of this letter involve Keisker discussing manufacturing parts with a distributor in Philadelphia for Elvis's new single ''Milkcow Blues Boogie'' backed with ''You're A  Heartbreaker'', which she hopes “should be the biggest yet''.
 
Interestingly, in the fourth paragraph she questions the price this distributor charged Sun for pressing a mere  25 copies of Elvis's second single, ''Good Rockin' Tonight'' (which she calls ''210''). Paramount had billed  Sun 15 cents apiece to make the records, but ''shouldn’t the charge have been 14 cents''? Keisker wondered.  ''That is what we have been paying for 45's''.
 
This letter mention's Marion Keisker by name (since she wrote it), the woman who played a legendary role  in the discovery of Elvis Presley, as she was the first person to ever record him, on July 18, 1953, when the  future King recorded an acetate of ''My Happiness'' for his own.
DECEMBER 23, 1954 THURSDAY
 
In Houston's City Auditorium (Jesse H. Jones Hall) at 615 Louisiana Street, a series of  performances by artists from Don Robey's Duke and Peacock Records erupted into front  page, ballad-singing rhythm and blues heartthrob Johnny Ace blew his brains out in a game  of Russian roulette backstage, he died the following day. Some reports claim that Ace was  trying to impress a girl sitting on his lap at the time. The hall, now renamed, houses the  Houston Symphony Orchestra.
 
This seemingly insignificant incident had a definite impact upon the rising popularity of  rock music - Johnny Ace became the first symbol of the more tragic aspects of the rock  and roll lifestyle.
 
Johnny Ace was one of many Southern artists signed by Don Robey. After  his death, Robey greased the publicity wheels and sent Johnny Ace's "Pledging My Love" to  number 1 on the Billboard Rhythm and Blues chart - a posthumous hit that helped romanticize the tragedy of his death.
 
Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton was backstage in the dressing room with Johnny Ace had  been playing Russian roulette - he'd made a hundred dollar bet, and won. Everyone then  went about their business, including Johnny Ace.
 
"We all left the room and we went back  and found Johnny dead", Big Mama recalled. "Word was some gangsters killed him". Whatever the cause of death, Elvis Presley was intrigued with the Johnny Ace affair.
 
He  talked about Ace for years after the incident. Ironically, when Elvis Presley died in August  1977, his cover version "Pledging My Love" replaced Charlie Rich's "Rolling With The Flow"  as the number 1 on the Billboard Country and Western music chart. Elvis Presley's lifelong  obsession with Johnny Ace had added another strange twist to the story of his career.
DECEMBER 24, 1954 FRIDAY
 
Elvis Presley went to Harry Levitch Jewellers at 176 South Main Street and bought an  electric mixer for his mothers' Christmas gift. Harry Levitch was surprised when Elvis  returned a few days later and asked for another electric mixer. It too was for his mother,  Elvis explained. 
 
She had never owned one before, and now that he could afford it, he  wanted her to have one for each end of the kitchen so that she wouldn't have to walk back  and firth.
DECEMBER 25, 1954 SATURDAY
 
Elvis spent Christmas with his family in their new home at 2414 Lamar Avenue in Memphis. A  Memphis brick house rented by the Presley's from December 25 to mid-1955. Their  telephone number was 37-4184, as it had been several months earlier. It was within walking  distance of Airway's Used Cars. In 1968 the two-story house was converted into the Tiny Tot  Nursery School.
 
Elvis Presley given himself a present, a 1942 Martin guitar that he bought for $175 from  the O.K. Houck Company on Union Avenue. He was a little self-conscious about it; it  seemed kind of extravagant to pay so much money, but this was the way he now made his  living, he told himself, and he never hesitated, except when the man threw his old guitar  in the trash. "The man gave me eight dollars on the trade-in", he told anyone who would  listen afterward, still a little open mouthed with disbelief. "Shucks, it still played good",  recalled Elvis Presley. He had his first name spelled out in black metallic letters across the  blond wood of the Dreadnought 18, just as he had on his old guitar. It came out smartly on  a diagonal below the fret board, and the guitar looked a lot more professional than his  other one.
 
Elvis Presley appeared on the holiday edition of the Louisiana Hayride. Red West remarks  on how different the reactions of female fans are from the males. He calls it "Crazy the  way the women react".
DECEMBER 27, 1954 MONDAY
 
As a result of this quest for proper management, Elvis Presley finally  signed a contract with Bob Neal, who, as noted earlier, had been "auditioning" for the role  for several months already. The details of this management deal had actually been worked  out a few months earlier, and the well-publicized signing with Neal was designed more to  promote Elvis' third single, "Milkcow Blues Boogie" and "You're A Heartbreaker", than  anything else.
 
Bob Neal was not a well-known national figure, but he was regarded locally as  an honest man with a solid Southern reputation. Kenneth Herman pointed out that Bob Neal  had the ability to inspire the acts he managed.
 
They met at photographer Lou Lowry's house where Elvis, flanked by Sam Phillips and Bob Neal, signed the new management contract. A set of fresh publicity photos was taken, presented an updated version of Elvis' and the group image. The group picture, though, showed Scotty Moore and Bill Black wearing their Starlite Wranglers outfits.
 
The official picture, which ran in the trades and in the March issue of "Country & Western  Jamboree", shows Elvis Presley sitting at a desk with a fireplace behind him, pen poised,  grin crooked, hair perfectly coiffed. Sam Phillips and Bob Neal stand beside him on either  side. Sam Phillips has his hand companionable on Elvis' right shoulder, Bob Neal is wearing  a broad smile and an elaborately bowed western tie, while all three stare straight into the  camera.
 
Using his gaudy Memphis Promotions Agency stationary, Bob Neal went to work earning his  fifteen percent commission for Elvis' concerts. Immediately, Bob Neal raised Elvis' concerts  fee from a range of $100 to $250 a night to $300 to $500. The problem was that Bob Neal  couldn't always secure good-paying engagements. As a result, Elvis Presley often accepted  lower-priced jobs. During 1955, however, under Neal's skilled guidance, Presley earned  $55,000, an excellent sum for a regional artist.
 
According to Bob Neal, ''Well, I worked out just a simple thing without consulting my  attorney or anything, just a simple, management-type-contract, that I would be his  manager and set up bookins. Of course, he was underage, so his mother and Vernon both,  or one or the other, signed the contract. I would get fifteen percent for the work I did''.
 
Elvis and the band had to do something about transportation for Houston that day, as Scotty Moore's wife was  getting tired of riding the bus when the trio went on the road in her car. Elvis bought a  Lincoln Cosmopolitan with only ten thousand miles on it. He had his name and Sun Records painted on the side and installed a rack for instrumentation on the top.
DECEMBER 28, 1954 TUESDAY
 
Houston, Texas, Elvis Presley headlined at Cook's Hoedown Club, 602 Capitol Avenue, as part  of the "Yuletide Jamboree and Dance". Other acts included singer/songwriter Floyd Tillman,  hot rocker Link Davis, Tommy Sands, Laura Lee and Hub Sutter. Bill Collie was the evening's emcee. Tickets  were $1.25 at the door, and about 1.50 persons attended.
 
The show benefited the Golden  Park Volunteer Fire Department. Pappy Covington had booked the appearance, and about  150 people attended. The crowd was festive, and Elvis Presley closed the show with an  hour-and-a-half performance. When he was called back for an encore, Elvis Presley  surprised Scotty and Bill by closing with a cover version of LaVern Baker's "Tweedlee Dee".
 
According disc jockey Smokey Stover from KRCT radio in Baytown said, ''The hottest country music in the Houston area in those days was Cook's Hoedown Club. In twas located in downtown Houston at the intersection of Capital Avenue and Smith Street. The place seated approximately 1500 people. The place was packed. The women went crazy over him''.
 
Mayme Frawford Holx said that, ''In 1954, I was fifteen years old, and on December 28, my uncle, Allen Parks, took his daughter Peggy and me to see Elvis at Cook's Hoedown in Houston. My cousin Peggy got in to see Elvis, but they wouldn't let me in because I wasn't old enough. My uncle and I sat in his pickup until it was over, and I just cried because I couldn't go in to see Elvis''. 
 
And Peggy Hightower said, ''Although she had the right chest, Mayme didn't have the right ID, and she got to sit with Daddy out in the car, and let us dance for about three hours. They did let her come in the door and retrieve Augustine and me. She got a glimpse. We had a restaurant, a 24-hour truck stop, and had a jukebox played, the more money my daddy got. The truck drivers would match you quarter for quarter for five plays, and I was really good at it, and we had the jukebox going all the time''.
 
''Natural Music Company from Brenham serviced the jukebox machines, cigarette machines, and pinballs. We set up a howl for Daddy to take us (to see Elvis). Augustine lived with us, she was one of our waitresses. We all loved dancing.  Everybody went to the dances, including Grandma. It was the sound. We had seen pictures of him, he was pretty to look at. I think we did a lot more looking than we did dancing. We were shoulder to shoulder. He looked good and he sounded good. The ceiling was very low.
 
The stage was not far high. There were tables around the outer edge. We had a table close to the stage. There were a lot of females. He spoke to us, said 'Hello' and asked if we had a good time. And we told him that our cousin was in the car and that she couldn't come in, and he said, 'Oh, that's sad'.
 
And Sandra Lawson said', Daddy took several pictures. However, the only surviving photo is a close-up of us. The show was over, and Daddy asked Elvis if he would take a picture with us''.
 
Elvis Presley may well have played other Texas and Arkansas dates over the next three  days, including the Red River Arsenal, near Texarkana. Elvis Presley's third Sun single  "Milkcow Blues Boogie"/"You're A Heartbreaker" (SUN 215) are released on this day.  In December, a paternity suit was filed against Elvis by a Mississippi teenager, but the case  was later dismissed.
 
In December, Elvis' photo appeared in the souvenir program from the "Louisiana Hayride",  which sold for only a dollar.
 
Tony Sepolio, owner of the Paladium, owned a club called the Hayloft on Old Galveston Road in Houston, Texas, and he brought over Elvis Presley and Tommy Sands on one occasion, most likely during these days.
DECEMBER 29, 1954 WEDNESDAY
 
The Memphis Press-Scimitar reports that "Elvis Presley, the 19-year-old Memphian whose   first two records ("Blue Moon Of Kentucky" with "That's All Right" and "Good Rockin' Tonight"  with "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine") won him quick acclaim, has signed a management   contract with Bob Neal, WMPS folk music disc jockey, it was announced today''. 
 
''Presley, who   appears each Saturday night on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, said increasing   demands for appearances made a manager necessary, and he preferred a Memphian for the   job. Two other Memphians are in his group and appear with him on the Louisiana Hayride.   They are Guitarist Scotty Moore and Bill Black on bass''.
 
''The affiliation was announced simultaneously with release of Presley's latest records   "Milkcow Blues" and "Heartbreak". He records for Sun Records Co. a Memphis firm headed   by Sam Phillips''. 
 
Starting in the new year Neal will book dates within his own listening area   on an exclusive basis as well as setting up engagements through the Hayride network in   such far-flung new territory as west Texas and eastern New Mexico. A variant of the "spikyhaired"   photograph from Elvis' original July 27 interview at the Press-Scimitar is used to  accompany this story, which also announces the simultaneous release of Elvis' third Sun   single.
 
According Bob Neal, ''I set up a little office in a building right across from the Peabody Hotel at Union. I had an office in there where I did correspondence and handled fan club things. Helen my wife, was the original fan club president and we had fan club cards made up. Plus a good percentage of the booking we did at that time followed the trend that I had going for a number of years... going out and working shows in the territory, because having a good following on WMPS, I could travel a range of 150 to 200 miles around town. I'd simple set up a date in a schoolhouse, auditorium, or something like that. Basically I would do all the advertising on my show, because we covered all the territory. Sometimes we'd buy a few window cards or like that... then we'd go out and do the show''.
 
Ronald Smith, guitarist in Eddie Bonds band The Stompers said, ''Bob rented a cheap offices across from the Peabody Hotel. I think they called it Elvis Presley Enterprises or something like that. What i won't forget is going up there to visit Elvis. They had a phone in that office that Scotty, Elvis or Someone had painted red with fingernail polish! They had glued some fake plastic jewels on this phone. I was afraid to ask if it was meant to be a bad joke or what''.
 
UNKNOWN DATE DECEMBER 1954
 
Elvis Presley appeared at Humes High School for the Christmas show, and all the teachers  and kids flocked around, but some of them acted stuck-up, like they thought he was going to  act stuck-up first, which didn't seem right at all.
 
Elvis Presley's new single, his third for Sun Records, came out simultaneously with the announcement of the new management setup. They had chosen ''Milkcow Blues Boogie'' and ''You're A Heartbreaker'' from a pre-Chrismast session, and the reviews were as encouraging as before. In retrospect, ''You're A Heartbreaker'' ended up being the least acclaimed of all of Elvis' original Sun releases. Although ''Milkcow Blues Boogie'' in the minds of many was the hot side, ''You're A Heartbreaker'' was the designated radio cut, the track that the success of the single ultimately depended upon. The record would, in the end, be the poorest seller of Elvis' five Sun singles. In Texas at least, no matter how convincing the Presley version, ''Milkcow Blues Boogie'' would always belong to Bob Wills.
 
DECEMBER 31, 1954 / JANUARY 1, 1955 FRIDAY/SATURDAY
 
Elvis Presley appeared at a special New Year's Night broadcast from Eagle's Hall, Houston,  Texas, which Biff Collie also set up. (See 1955 Elvis Presley 1).
 
Sometime in late December 1954 or early January 1955, Elvis Presley purchases what will  become the band's first official automobile. With Bob Neal's help, he buys a used, tancolored,  1951 Cosmopolitan Lincoln, putting a rack on top for the bass, with "Elvis Presley  - Sun Records" painted on the side. It replaces Scotty's wife Bobbie's 1954 Chevrolet Bel  Air.

Continued: Elvis Sun 1955-1

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