CONTAINS
1953 ELVIS PRESLEY SESSIONS
 
Live Recordings for Elvis Presley On Various Locations, 1953 (Possible)
Live Recording for Elvis Presley, May 26, 1953 (Possible)
Studio Session for The Prisonaires, June 1, 1953 (Possible)
Demo Recording for Elvis Presley, July 18, 1953 (Demo)
 

UNKNOWN DATE 1952 OR 1953
 
Elvis Presley perform at Red Coach Night Club and the country music show originating  from the Quachita Valley Jamboree in Monroe, Louisiana, 300 miles south of Memphis,  according to Richard Wilcox in Lucy de Barbin's book "Are You Lonesome Tonight". Elvis  Presley unsuccessfully attempted to get onto the show. 
 
Billie Jean Jones Williams, former  wife of country singer Hank Williams and of country singer Johnny Horton recalled that in 1953 Elvis Presley visited Louisiana, where she remembers giving Elvis money.
 
JANUARY 1953
 
Using demo tapes intended for the Chess label, Sam Phillips planned his next record release.
 
Meteor Records had released Elmore James "I Believe", and both the record and artist were  successful. Sam Phillips realized that the best blues musicians would flock to Meteor if he  didn't move quickly.
 
Reflecting on his new record company years later, Phillips remarked: "I don't know what  made me take that very brave step which, from a strictly business standpoint, I'm not sure  anyone in their right mind would have taken".
UNKNOWN DATE 1953
 
In addition to hanging out at Lansky Brother's (see below) clothing store on Beale Street, Elvis Presley after wandered into Henry's Record Shop on Beale. Robert Henry, a Memphis businessman had promoted every  conceivable show business venture. As a result, Henry's Record Shop was a place where black musicians congregated, and therefore a focal point for Elvis Presley. Robert Henry  was a close friend of W.C. Handy and Dewey Phillips. Henry passed away in 1978.
 
"That boy listened to out music, and took it to the bank", Jimmy McCracklin remarked. "He  loved my music, and I couldn't wait to get back to Beale Street. I remember the white boys  coming into some of the black clubs", McCracklin reminisced.
JIMMY MCCRACKLIN - In the 1953-1954 period Jimmy McCracklin was a talented blues performer who  had not yet had a major hit. Working in Texas, McCracklin toured Mississippi and worked in the local  Memphis clubs. His music was played on blues and rhythm and blues radio stations in the South. A prolific songwriter and a dynamic showman, McCracklin played on Beale Street and toured the South in 1954-1955  when Elvis Presley was beginning his career.  
 
Although they never performed together, Elvis Presley had an affinity for Jimmy McCracklin hard-driving blues. When "The Walk" became a major hit for McCracklin in  the late 1950s, Elvis Presley added the record to his collection. Musician Kenneth Herman  remembers McCracklin's records playing at Graceland.
 
A good example of how self-produced records could hit the charts is evident from the career of Jimmy  McCracklin. Every song that McCracklin had on the rhythm and blues charts in the 1950s was written,  arranged, and produced by him. The record company simply pressed the master and released the song.  McCracklin was typical of the artists who gravitated to Memphis, Chicago, and Los Angeles to find a record  deal.
 
Eventually, McCracklin's single "The Walk", on Checker Records, a Chess subsidiary, established his  musical career. Like many fledgling songwriters and performers in 1953, Jimmy McCracklin spent time on  Beale Street. "You couldn't help but be influenced by those cats", McCracklin remarked about B.B. King,  Bobby "Blue" Bland, and Johnny Ace. "I took the records I was producing and went from one company to  the next; it worked", McCracklin concluded.
 
Elvis Presley was much like McCracklin, in that he, too, hoped to make a record that would garner a  recording contract. "I was always trying for that crossover sound", McCracklin noted. "Elvis got it and all  our money, too!". Jimmy McCracklin, who recorded for Imperial, Checker, and Crown among others,  remarked: "Imperial Records presented me with a $70,000 bill when I left them. I was paid fifty dollars a  week, and told I was lucky to have a record contract".
 
Fortunately, Jimmy McCracklin, retained the copyright to his songs, and he has continued to collect  royalties from those he recorded for these labels. From time to time - JMC, ArtTone, and Oak City. To this  day, however, Jimmy McCracklin is bitter about the way he was treated. "The white man took the money  and the black man got nothing. The black man who did what the white man wanted continued to record",  McCracklin concluded. Blacks who didn't how the mark, it was clear, were simply passed over by the  white establishment.
 
McCracklin continued to tour and produce new albums in the 1980s and 1990s. Bob Dylan has cited  McCracklin as a favorite. He played at the San Francisco Blues Festival in 1973, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1984  and  2007. He was given a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1990, and the Living Legend  and Hall of Fame award at the Bay Area Black Music Awards, in 2007. McCracklin continued to write,  record, and perform into the 21st century. Jimmy McCracklin died in San Pablo, California, in the San  Francisco Bay Area, on December 20, 2012, after a long illness, at the aged of 91.
UNKNOWN DATE 1953
 
Elvis Presley frequently at 81 Club, located at 81 North Second Street, Memphis, Tennessee.  The reason was that Elvis Presley known restaurant owner, Lil Thompson. "Elvis would come  in and sat, 'Mama Lil, if I play the guitar for you would you give me a quarter?'", Lil recalled.  And she would always reply, "No, but I'll cook you a cheeseburger".
 
After stardom, she proudly remembered Elvis' an evening years later at her Western  Steakhouse and Lounge at 1298 Madison Avenue. Near closing time, Elvis' friend George  Klein called if Elvis could eat at the restaurant. 
 
"Give us an hour to get there", George  said. About an hour later, Elvis' group of about twenty friends and girlfriends arrived. 
 
Lil  waited tables and her husband Tommy cooked. The party stayed for a couple of hours,  enjoying the food and each other's company. When Elvis finally got up to leave, he asked  Tommy how much he owed them. "Son, you don't owe us anything", Tommy replied.
 
Shortly after the party left, Elvis called. "Look in the back of the telephone directory", he  said cryptically. Lil found five hundred dollars hidden there. "I really loved Elvis", Lil said recently. "I've buried a son and a husband, but the saddest thing of my life was losing Elvis. When that hearse drove out of the gates of Graceland, it liked to killed me, it was so sad". In the late 1990, the  Western Steakhouse and Lounge is demolished.
THE TRUE COMPLETE STORY OF MARK HANKS -  ''Hello, my name is Elvis, and I'll be your server this evening."
 
Presley-impersonator Joe Kent is working the crowd at the Western Steakhouse and Lounge. It's a frequent  Saturday-night gig for him, and he knows that line always delivers the laughs. The Western provides a  modest setting for Kent's act; no stage, no band, just a narrow corner of the restaurant, a karaoke machine,  and enough "sizzlin' steer and beer", as a sign on the wall behind him reads, to clog the arteries of a major  metropolitan infrastructure.
 
Still, for Kent and other Elvis disciples the world over, the Western is hallowed ground. There was a time  when the King himself frequented this establishment. He never served a steak, but he ate plenty of them.  For nearly 40 years, the Western has been one of Memphis' most cherished country-music landmarks. In the  1960s and 1970s, it was a safe house for some of the genre's biggest names, where not just Elvis but Johnny  Cash, Webb Pierce, Charlie Pride, and a host of others would come to escape their celebrity and enjoy a tender steak, or a stiff drink.
 
These days, the Western still packs 'em in, but restaurant proprietors T. Tommy and "Mama" Lil Thomsen are  "getting on up in age'', as she puts it. Lil used to juggle cooking, waitressing, and cleaning duties at the  Western, but she admits, "I do good just to take care of T. Tommy now. He requires more attention than I'm  able to give him, and I don't like that. It's just time that both of us retire''.
 
Lil and T. Tommy are all too aware of this city's penchant for neglecting (or, in many cases, destroying) its  musical landmarks. So they've come up with a way to absolve themselves of the Western and ensure that it  continues on well into the new millennium. They're holding a contest. For a token fee of $100, anyone who  cares to can submit an essay explaining why he or she would be an ideal heir to the Western Steakhouse  legacy. The best essay will be chosen and the keys to the building will be turned over to the lucky winner.
 
Here's the specifics. The contest is open to anyone of legal majority. Essays are to be no more than 250  words, and are due on or before April 25, 1997. Lil, T. Tommy, and other senior members of the Western  Steakhouse staff will read all the essays and choose the 25 best entries. They will then turn those entries over  to former Memphis mayor Wyeth Chandler and Millington businessman Babe Howard, the finalist judges  who will choose a winner and two runners-up from the pool of 25. The names of these three entrants will be announced in May. The contest winner (or subsequent runner(s) up) must take possession of the Western  Steakhouse within 30 days of notification. The transfer of property will include the restaurant and the  apartment units located above it in the same building. The business and property is completely debt-free, and  no taxes or mortgages will be levied against the new owner. Again, what a bargain! An official list of contest  rules and instructions can be obtained from the Western Steakhouse, 1298 Madison Avenue.
 
Of course, the contest winner will acquire more than a building. He or she will inherit a family of employees  and customers that spans generations, a rich historical legacy, and a coffer of really cool stuff. "We'll walk  outta here (leaving the restaurant) the way you see it'', Lil promises. "I'm leavin' everything behind, except  for Elvis' guitar and that (autographed) picture of him hangin' above the jukebox''.
 
The "everything" of which Lil speaks is no mere bric-a-brac. The decor at the Western has taken 40 years to  accumulate. As much as the friendly service or the famous clientele, it's what gives the place its character.  Longtime Western employee Shirley Evans boasts, "It's like a mini-museum in here", an ever-expanding  exhibit where the spectacle of celebrity and the eccentricities of the everyday intersect.
 
Amid the hundreds of autographed publicity photos and framed newspaper clippings, there are some  wonderfully strange items, each one of them the figurehead for some legendary tale. Above the doorway,  there's a (presumably dormant) hornets' nest the size of a beach ball. A few feet over, a urinal hangs from the  ceiling. Move to the next wall and you'll find an enlarged photo of Lil standing in the Western with her horse  Diamond (she brought it in one day as a promotion for a show they were putting on), followed by a  succession of taxidermied deer heads. At the bar, a metal armadillo made from old car bumpers sits atop a  display case filled with racks of raw steaks. Adorning the back wall of the restaurant, there's a cowboy-motif  mural painted by another loyal Western Steakhouse patron, professional wrestler and Andy Kaufman's archnemesis,  Jerry Lawler.
 
And then, there's the most popular seat in the house, Elvis' favorite booth. Lil recalls that "he'd come in here  with his entourage, bodyguards and everything, after closin' time. He'd always wear sunshades and some  kinda big ol' hat. He'd sit back there in his booth, with his back to the rest (of the restaurant)''. And when  Elvis asked for the usual? "The 16-ounce rib-eye, that was his favorite''.
 
Lil continues, "Now we never charged him (for his meals). That was just something special we'd do, you  know, for Elvis. So, one night he ate his steak and then he said to T. Tommy, ''How much do I owe you?''. T.  Tommy said, ''Elvis, you know you don't owe me a damn thing''. Elvis went on home and 20 minutes later  the phone rings. T. Tommy picked it up and it was Elvis on the line. He said, ''Tell Mama Lil to go back and  look in the telephone book''. ''I didn't think anything about it at the time, but finally I got around to lookin' in  the phone book. He'd left me $500''.
 
If you're inclined to listen, Lil can spin Elvis anecdotes like that one for hours. As she sits folding the redand- white checkered bibs that come with every steak, she recalls another night when the Western held an  Elvis look-alike talent show, a forerunner to the Elvis impersonator contests that have proliferated since the  King's demise. "Elvis came in, and entered the contest, sort-of in disguise. I guess the disguise worked 'cause  he came in third place''.
 
A sign now hangs above Elvis' booth commemorating its place in carnivorous history (in the men's bathroom  stall there's another sign that reads, "This was Elvis' second-favorite booth"). The seat cushions in the booth  have lost some of their springs, and they've been rendered lumpy and uncomfortable from all the ass-traffic  over the years. But Elvis' booth is still the Western's signature attraction, with reservations sometimes booked  solid for days in advance.
 
Trying to take in all the sights and stories at the Western, to say nothing of taking possession of them, is  enough to make your head spin. But Lil and Shirley plan to stay on for a little while after the contest to help  acclimate the new owner. Shirley explains, "Everything in here, including the customers, has been here for  many, many years. We'd like to introduce (the new owner) to all of them''.
 
"Everybody has their own ideas (about how to run the restaurant)'', says Lil, "but I'd like the new owner to  keep it like it is, and I'd like 'em to keep Elvis in mind. I'll keep an eye on 'em, because I'll (still) probably  come down here and eat a lot''. Lil has spent a lifetime in this business, and by her own admission, "That's  about all I know to do''.
 
Lil and T. Tommy opened the Western Steakhouse in 1958, and they both brought plenty of experience to the  venture. "I been in this business since I was 18 years old, honey'', says Lil. "The first place I ever worked at  was an open-air beer garden. When I was 19 years old I started drivin' a big long Cadillac. Everybody  thought I was hustlin''. They couldn't understand why this little country gal from Ripley, Tennessee, was  drivin' such a nice car. I was workin' seven days a week, that's why. I was makin' about $125 a night, and that  was a lot of money in those days. These people that owned the beer garden, they just kinda took me under  their wing, like I took Shirley. They was like my mom and dad. I really had a good life with them."
 
With a taste for this good life, and a strong work ethic to match, Lil opened her own club in 1952. The 81  Club was located at 81 North Second Street, and played host to the burgeoning country and rockabilly music  of the day. "Elvis used to come in the 81 Club all the time, too'', says Lil. "Back then he was just a little ol'  boy, just a bug in a rug''.
 
The 81 club was also where Lil first met T. Tommy. After a stint in the Navy, T. Tommy turned his eye to the  music business, and by the early 1950s, he had become one of the city's key country-concert promoters. He  would often book shows at the 81 Club, and soon enough he struck up a relationship with his future bride.
 
"He was a great P.R. Man'', recalls Lil. "He just knew everybody, and he charmed me right away''.  Lil and T. Tommy have shared a charmed life together ever since, and it's not easy for them to let go of their  life's work. Lil confides, "I don't know how I'm gonna handle it when it gets time to go. It isn't a day goes by  I don't have a good cry about it. But we gotta go and let somebody else enjoy the restaurant. I hope they  enjoy it as much as I have''.
 
As she escorts me to the door, Lil stops to show me one last thing. It's a photo of her that was taken around  the time the Western opened. Wearing a tasseled silk shirt and Stetson hat, she looks like the consummate  honky-tonk angel. Lil sighs and then laughs a little. "Time changes everything, don't it?" she asks.  Everything but the Western Steakhouse and Lounge, ma'am''.
 
Copyright, Memphis Flyer Website Magazine, 2012
JANUARY 1953
 
Sun Records is re-launched with three blues discs. Sam Phillips now ceases to record music  for license to other labels and concentrates on developing Sun Records.
 
 JANUARY 1, 1953 THURSDAY
 
After dragged down by drinking, drugs, illness, and divorce, Hank Williams career was as  chaotic as it was successful; by the end, he was banned from the Grand Ole Opry for his sins,  In Knoxville, Tennessee, he dies in his car on New Year's Day, only twenty-nine years old. Williams was being chauffeured to a gig in Canton, Ohio. En route he hell unconscious and  was taken to Knoxville's Andrew Johnson Hotel. A doctor was called, and although Williams  had been drinking, two shots of morphine were administered. Hotel porters carried him back  to the car at around 11 p.m., by the time he reached Oak Hill, West Virginia, it was clear  that country's top performer was not sleeping but dead. Country buffs still argue over  whether or not Hank was already deceased by the time the car pulled into Knoxville. The  hotel has since been converted into offices, housing the local education bored, a TV station,  and other businesses.
 
Thousands of mourners attended Williams' funeral held at the City Auditorium and buried  at Oakwood Cemetery Annex, 1305 Upper Wetumpka Road,  Birmingham, Alabama. Williams lies under an impressive white marble headstone etched  with notes from "Your Cheatin' Heart". Among the country stars paying tribute were the  straight-laced Roy Acuff, who performed the singer's evangelical "I Saw The Light". A statue  of Hank Williams is in Lister Hall Plaza on North Perry Street.
HIRAM HANK WILLIAMS - (1923-1953) Country singer. Widely acclaimed as country music's  greatest singer and composer, Hiram Hank Williams was born at Olive Hill, near Georgiana, Alabama, on September 17, 1923, the son of a sawmill and railroad worker. 
 
He was  introduced to music in the Baptist church, where he was faithfully taken by his mother, and,  according to popular legend, learned both songs and guitar chords from a black street singer in Georgiana, Rufus Payne ("Teetot"). 
 
Williams' evolution as a professional performer and composer began at the age of 14 when  he won a talent show in a Montgomery theater singing "WPA Blues" winning fifteen dollars.  He obtained his first radio job in the same year, 1937, at WSFA in Montgomery. 
 
When World War II - that crucible that integrated country music's disparate regional styles and  ultimately nationalized it - came, Williams worked in the Mobile shipyards and sang regularly in the honky-tonks of south Alabama. 
 
By the time the war ended Williams had  compiled eight hard years of performing experience and had built a style that reflected  the composite musical influences of his youth: gospel, blues, and old-time country.  Professionally, he acknowledged a dept to the Texas honky-tonk singer Ernest Tubb and to  the Tennessee mountain singer Roy Acuff, whose styles Williams fused in a way that  reflected a similar synthesis in the larger country field during the war and immediate  postwar years.
 
Williams' ascendance to fame began shortly after the war when he became associated with  Fred Rose, the famous Nashville songwriter and publisher. Rose encouraged Williams'  natural songwriting abilities and published his songs; he helped him obtain recording contracts with Sterling and MGM Records; he persuaded Molly O'Day, one of the greatest  singers of the time, to record some of Williams' compositions; and he helped him get a  position on KWKH's Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport. The Hayride, which was then second  only to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville as a successful country radio show, was the vehicle  that launched Hank Williams on the road to performing fame.
 
With his country band called the Drifting Cowboys, Williams played a major role in making  country music a national phenomenon. On June 11, 1949, Hank Williams made his debut  at the Grand Ole Opry, singing an old pop tune, "Lovesick Blues" over and over again at the audience's request, which featured the yodelling he had learned from another Alabama  singer, Rex Griffin. Williams soon moved as regular to the Grand Ole Opry, where he  became the most popular country singer since Jimmie Rodgers. In the brief span from  1949 to 1953 Williams dominated the country charts with songs that are still considered  classics of country music.
 
With a remarkably expressive voice that moved with equal facility from the strident  yodelling of "Long Gone Lonesome Blues" to the gentle lyricism of "I Just Told Mama  Goodbye", Williams communicated with his listeners in a fashion that has only rarely been  equalled by other country singers. The word "sincerity" has no doubt been over-used in  describing the styles of country musicians, but in the case of Williams it means simply that  he as a singer convincingly articulated in songs a feeling that he and his listeners shared.
 
On January 1, 1953, Williams' chauffeur, Charles Carr, found him dead in the backseat of  his Cadillac. Williams' second wife, Billie Jean, would also be married to singer Johnny  Horton when Horton died in a car accident in 1960. In 1961 Hank Williams was elected to  the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee.
 
Some of Williams' compositions include: "Cold, Cold Heart"; "Hey, Good Lookin'"; "Half As  Much"; "Jambalaya"; "Move It Over"; "Your Cheatin' Heart"; and "I'm So Lonesome I Could  Cry" are classics. Elvis Presley recorded "Your Cheatin' Heart" in 1958. His release of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" is from the Elvis Aloha From Hawaii concert in 1973. A  photograph of Hank Williams can be seen in Elvis Presley's 1957 movie Jailhouse Rock.
 
As a songwriter - not as a singer- Williams played a most important role in breaking down  the fragile barriers between country and pop music. Williams' singing was quintessentially  rural, and his own records never "crossed over" into the lucrative pop market. His songs, though, moved into the larger sphere of American popular music and from there, perhaps,  into the permanent consciousness of the American people. Like no earlier country writer's  works, Hank's songs appeared with great frequency in the repertoires of such pop musicians as Tony Bennett, Frankie Lane, and Mitch Miller. For good or ill, this  popularization in pop music continues.
 
Commercial and professional success did not bring peace of mind to the Alabama country  boy. A chronic back ailment, a troubled marriage, and a subsequent divorce and  remarriage accentuated a penchant for alcohol that he had acquired when only a small  boy. After being fired by the Grand Ole Opry for drunkenness and erratic behaviour, he  returned to the scene of his first triumphs - the Louisiana Hayride. His legacy lives on in  his songs and in the scores of singers, including his immensely talented son, Hank, Jr., who  still bear his influence.
JANUARY 6, 1953 TUESDAY
 
Eddie Cantor send a 10 1/2x7 1/4 inches letter to Colonel Tom Parker, and is signed by the  singer: "How nice to receive your very gracious letter. And those Eddy Arnold string ties! I'm  liable to be the best dressed old man in show business". Eddie Cantor, one of the most  beloved American vaudeville entertainers, became a Hollywood star in the thirties. He  received an Academy Award in 1956 for distinguished service to the film industry.
 
JANUARY 7, 1953 WEDNESDAY
 
The Presley's moved into a small house at 698 Saffarans Avenue (398 Cypress Street). It was a small apartment  house in which - for $52-a-month rent - they secured two downstairs rooms. It was easy to  understand why the living situation at 698 Saffarans Avenue depressed Elvis Presley. In  theory, 698 Saffarans Avenue was a step from Lauderdale Courts public housing because the  rent was higher and the Presley's no longer had to go through the ritual of qualifying for lowincome  housing. The Saffarans Avenue apartment was disastrous. It was a small unit  desperately in need of paint, new plumbing, and adequate lighting. There were other  reasons for Elvis' unhappiness with his new surrounding. each morning he arose and  complained about the squalid sanitary conditions. The common bathroom was down the hall,  and Elvis Presley found it cold and dirty. The water was never hot and the bathtub was  always filled with hair. His experiences at this apartment created an aversion to bathing, and  Elvis Presley showered only when absolutely necessary. He cultivated the habit of  purchasing large bottles of Aqua Velva after-shave, and splashed the lotion all over his body.  The result was a disconcerting smell, a cross between body odour and lilacs.
698 SAFFARANS AVENUE - The Presley family lived at this address from January 7, 1953 until April  1953. They had been evicted from Lauderdale Courts on the basis of income. The Saffarans  Avenue location was a step down in quality from Lauderdale Courts. In spite of their higher  income, they were unable to rent a suitable apartment without a federal subsidy. Within  four months, however, the Presley's would move back to the Lauderdale Courts  neighbourhood.
 
The Presley's apartment at 698 Saffarans Avenue was only a stepping stone for the family.  This address was erroneously reported as 398 Cypress Avenue. The real address wasn't uncovered until 1991, when Joe Haertel, discovered the discrepancy and the true location  of the Presley's 1953 apartment - a feat even the wire services considered newsworthy. 
 
The apartment was ten dollars a month more than the one they had left at Lauderdale  Courts, and much smaller. Still they must have been pleased by the location. Saffarans  Avenue runs north and south adjacent to what was then Humes High School. The  apartment, which has since been torn down, was directly across the street from Elvis  Presley's school. How did the true address surface after all these years? This was the  address listed on Elvis' draft card. He turned eighteen and registered for the draft while  living in this apartment.
 
The building where the family lived no longer exists, but nearby buildings reflect the style  of 698 Saffarans, and you can still get a sense of the low-income character of the now  black neighbourhood. The address is now a vacant lot.
JANUARY 19, 1953 MONDAY
 
Elvis Presley is register for the selective service. Under the draft system, young men of good health were expected to be available from age 18, to serve in the military for two years of active duty and then four years in the reserves. 
 
The double-sided card stock "Selective Service" number is 40-86-35-16 and was signed by Elvis Presley and Crace F. Martony in blue ink. Card issued to Elvis Aron Presley at 698 Saffarans in Memphis, Tennessee. Lists birthdate of Jan. 8, 1935 and birthplace of Tupelo, Miss.
 
Back of the card lists personal information: brown hair, green eyes, height of 5"11" and weight of 150. Selective Service number ''40-86-35-16''. The card is 2 1/2x3 3.4 inches.
 
Elvis Presley filled out this Selective Service card about a week after his 18th birthday.  Then a senior at Memphis' Humes High School. Elvis, by then a major star, was called for  his pre-induction physical on January 4, 1957, in order to determine his status for the  draft. On December 19, 1957, Elvis now 22 years old, was notified that he'd been inducted  into the Army. The next day, after picking up his draft notice in person, Elvis stopped by Sun Records and talked to reporters, calling his impending Army service a "duty I've got to  fill and I'm going to do it".  
 
On Christmas Eve 1957 Elvis wrote to the Memphis Draft Board requesting a deferment in order to finish filming his latest film for Paramount, "King  Creole". Elvis asks for the deferment so that "these folks will not lose so much money, with  all they have done so far".
 
Two days later the Draft Board granted Elvis a deferment until March 20, 1958 and was taken to Fort Chaffee in Arkansas for processing and then sent to  Fort Hood in Texas. Elvis shipped out to Germany in September 1958. The Army had  considered putting Elvis in its "Special Services" division to take advantage of his celebrity,  but both the Colonel and Elvis insisted that he receive no special treatment, and Elvis'  Army stint was relatively conventional.
 
UNKNOWN DATE JANUARY 1953
 
Elvis Presley was hanging around with a group of local truckdrivers. Their big trucks, long  hair, sideburns, and free lifestyle intrigued him. Although his own sideburns had been long  for some time, his hair greasy, and his collar turned up, it was in the early months of 1953  that he accentuated these affectations into a distinctive personal style. By January 1953,  Elvis Presley was a mature, eighteen-year-old High School student.
 
JANUARY 24, 1953 SATURDAY
 
Rockabilly singer Carl Perkins married Valda Crider from Corinth, Mississippi. They moved to  a government housing project in Jackson, Tennessee as he started appearing. However,  Valda encouraged Carl to work on his music and try for a career in entertainment. Her support has nourished Perkins through a long career as a musician and through many bouts  with the bottle and self doubt. In fact, it was Val who heard later a record on the radio that  would after the course of Perkins' career.
 
UNKNOWN DATE EARLY 1953
 
Elvis Presley perform on a gig at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Charlie  Thornton thinks he may well have been the first one to paid Elvis Presley to perform.  Thornton can't pinpoint the exact date, but he's fairly certain it came in the early of 1953. Thornton was in a bind. A student at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Thornton  booked bands for college fraternities and sonorities, as well as for high school parties. Toni  Roderick telephoned Charlie Thornton to tell him the band booked for her high school party  had suddenly cancelled, Thornton had mere hours to find a substitute.
 
"I called Rufus Thomas at WDIA radio in Memphis, but he couldn't come and he couldn't  find anyone for me", said Thornton. "Gerald Parsons, a freshman fullback at ASU, heard of  my plight and he told me he had a friend at Humes High School in Memphis who played music, but not very good. I asked him to contact his friend. I hired him on the telephone  for seventy-five dollars. The next night, Elvis Presley showed up with two others to play  the high school gig in Jonesboro. I went to hear him. I always wanted to hear the bands I hired, to see how good they were and if I wanted to book them again".
 
"I remember he was different looking. He had that greasy hair. Elvis played really bad that  night! He played mostly gospel songs - at a high school party! At intermission, he and Toni  came over to me. Elvis apologized for his selections. He told me he wanted to come back over and play for Toni again, this time for free. I said I would never book him again - even  for free! I think this was the first time Elvis Presley ever got paid for a gig".
 
Thornton said Elvis Presley returned to Jonesboro a couple of times, but not to sing. He  took Tony out on dates. After the show there Elvis Presley, Charlie Thornton and Toni  Roderick went to the Fortune's Jungle Gardens (the world's first drive-in) and Elvis bought  a round of beer. When the bill arrived, Elvis Presley said, "Boys, you've gotta buy the beer.  I'm broke".
 
Charlie Thornton became assistant athletic director to the legendary Bear Bryant at the  University of Alabama and visited Elvis twice when he played standing-room-only concerts  at Tuscaloosa. Still later, Thornton was general manager of the professional Memphis Southmen football team.
SPRING 1953
 
Elvis' senior homeroom teacher, Miss Mildred Scrivener specifically remembered Elvis  Presley bringing his guitar to a class picnic at Overton Park Shell where he entertained his  classmates. Elvis Presley performed at two appearance for the East Trigg Baptist Church Choir, located at 1189 Trigg Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee. Pastor W. Herbert Brewster.
 
MARCH 1953
 
Earl Peterson, later to record for Sun Records, joins WFYC radio in Alma, Michigan. He also  starts the Nuggett record label with Mrs. Pearle Lewis (his mother).
 
UNKNOWN DATE EARLY 1953
 
Elvis Presley would visit Gene Smith at the Hall's Grocery located at 1588 Mississippi  Boulevard, nearly every afternoon after school. They would wander to the back of the store,  to the dairy bar, and sip Purple Cows, a float made from grape soda and vanilla ice cream. Gene ended up working full time for Hall's Grocery, delivering groceries by bicycle. In many  families such a difference in circumstance could have driven the two boys father apart.
 
As Gene Smith entered the work force, Elvis Presley didn't want his cousin to feel alone.  He would listen to Gene talk about his hopes for simply finding a better job someday. In  turn, Elvis would talk about his aspirations, how he wanted a career in music and was  anxious to begin working as a gospel singer or musician.
UNKNOWN DATE MARCH 1953
 
Vernon Presley bought his son the 1942 light green Lincoln Zephyr for $450. This postbirthday  pre-graduation present was a catalyst to Elvis Presley's musical education, and was  one of the reasons Elvis Presley spent so much time around Beale Street. Elvis Presley loved  to drive around the Peabody Hotel and circle the nearby Suzore II Theater. 
 
It was a frivolous  time for Elvis Presley, and his confidence grew as his social popularity soared. "We pushed  that car around Memphis as much as we drove it", Ronald Smith remembered. "We had a  good time with that car and Elvis Presley was just one of the fellows". 
 
"He need the car. Elvis saw the street late, with the signs glowing, and to this day it holds a  spell over him... Sometimes with his friends, sometimes alone, Elvis would head for Main  Street, where the windows, the bustle of moving traffic, the hurrying crowd gave him  something to watch and wonder about", recalled Bob Johnson, writer of the Memphis Press- Scimitar in 1956.
 
"Very few students had cars in those days", recalled insider at Lauderdale Courts, Luther  Nall. "One day Elvis and I went down to an old junk car lot and he found an old two-door  green Lincoln. The guy wanted thirty-five dollars for it. Elvis didn't have thirty-five dollars.  So he got the money from his dad and he paid notes on it until he paid it out. We drove  around a lot in that old car. One night we drove down to Tupelo. I was scared to death on  that trip. The tires on that car were so thin you could read a newspaper through them. I  didn't think we were going to make it down there and back. But he wanted to show me  where he was born. We saw that, drank a Coke and came back to Memphis".
UNKNOWN DATE MARCH 1953
 
The Presley's rented the bottom floor of a large house at 462 Alabama Avenue. Elvis Presley  liked the location because it was near Lauderdale Courts. Vernon Presley paid fifty dollars a  month for the apartment, and the Presley's installed a telephone, and Johnny Burnette  often dropped by Elvis' house to listen to blues or rockabilly songs. For a year and a half,  Elvis Presley lived with his family in the Alabama Street apartment. It was here that Elvis  Presley plotted his earliest career moves. The two-story brick building was comfortable, and  Elvis Presley spent hours practising his music in the living room. Across the street, at 465  Alabama Street, lived Mrs. Ruth Black, the mother of bassist Bill and his brother Johnny  Black.
 
462 ALABAMA AVENUE - Near the Lauderdale Courts complex, the two-store Victorian brick  building on Alabama Avenue with a sweeping front porch, was home to the Presley's from  April 1953, until late 1954. There were just two apartments in the house.  The family paid  $50,00 a month to rent a small apartment, fifteen dollars more than at Lauderdale Courts, payable to Mrs. Dubrovner, whose husband had been a kosher butcher and who lived down  the street herself, and both Mrs. Dubrovner and the Presley's upstairs neighbours, Rabbi  Alfred Fruchter and his wife, Jeanette, showed a considerable amount of kindness, and  financial consideration, toward the new tenants.
 
Vernon and Gladys occupied the only bedroom. Minnie Mae slept on a cot in the dining  room. Elvis Presley took the couch each night. Mrs. Fruchter later told an interviewer,  "They never had much. There wasn't even a decent chair to sit down in. About all they had  was this cheap little radio". Mrs. Fruchter remembered Saturday afternoons when Elvis  Presley and Vernon would polish Elvis' ten-year-old Lincoln. Others recalled seeing Elvis  Presley walk down the street with his guitar, his hair spilling over the collar of his pink  shirt.
 
Mrs. Anna Mae Bradley, who lived a block away on High Street, also recalled the Presley's  time at this address. Once, she was sitting on her front porch when Elvis Presley stopped to  visit with his guitar. He sat down next to her on the porch swing and began to play. "It seems  like a hundred years ago now", she said.
 
The Presley family was living here when Elvis Presley made his first recording at Memphis  Recording Service, during the summer of 1953 and when he got his first call from Marion  Keisker phoning for Sam Phillips in 1954. The building was demolished some years ago to make way for a freeway on-ramp.
MARCH 26, 1953 THURSDAY
 
Elvis Presley visits the Tennessee State Employment Security office, listing his address as  462 Alabama Street, where the family has moved to an apartment in a large Victorian home  at a rent of $50 a month.
 
Elvis fills out the application carefully in pencil, nothing under "leisure time activities":  "Sings, playing ball, working on car, going to movies" and indicating that he would like to  work as a machinist. At the end of the application form, the interviewer notes that his appearance as a "rather flashily dressed "playboy" type (is) denied by fact has worked hard  past three summers, wants a job dealing with people".
 
DAVID ''ALF'' AND JEANETTE FRUCHTER - Jewish family who lived upstairs at 464 Alabama  Street at the time the Presley's lived in the lower unit at 462 Alabama Avenue. Fruchter was  a rabbi for the Congregation Beth El-Emeth. The Fruchters were good friends of the  Presley's, and Elvis Presley sometimes used their telephone.
 
Supposedly, it was the  Fruchters' telephone number that Marion Keisker wrote down after Elvis Presley recorded  "My Happiness"/"That's When Your Heartaches Begin" in the summer of 1953. However, the  Presley's did have a telephone at the time so that story seems unlike. Elvis Presley was said  to have borrowed the Fruchters' phonograph to play his first Sun recordings. Friends of Elvis  Presley, however, recall that Elvis Presley did have a phonograph.
APRIL 4, 1953 SATURDAY
 
Don Robey's injunction against Sun Records also set some kind of speed record. What our gang lost in royalties, they gained in wisdom. The letter reads:
 
Dear sirs,
 
I have been advised by Mr. Harry Fox, Agent and Trustee for Lion Publishing Company of  Houston, Texas, that license were issued to you authorizing the use of our composition  "Hound Dog", your identical copy, being "Bear Cat", but to date, the licence have not been  returned. 
 
Please be advised that first, you should have contacted the owner prior to the release of  the record, as release of the composition leaves you liable for 5 cents to 8 cents per  record royalty for the intrusion upon the rights of others.
 
I advised Mr. Harry Fox to license you for the statutory 2 cents per record royalty, allowing  you to continue with pressing the record, the same as all of the Companies who were  properly licensed prior to the release of their own versions of our composition.
 
This is to also inform that unless contracts are signed and in the office of Mr. Harris Fox by  Wednesday, April 8th, 1953, I will be forced to take immediate steps with Court Actions,  plus apply charges for full 5 cents to 8 cents per record royalty.
 
Both Billboard and Cash Box questioned how such quick release was arranged on our  material, so is everyone else questioning how the record was released so soon.
 
I, do hope that this will not cause any unfriendly relations, but, please remember, I have  to pay, when I intrude upon the rights of others, and certainly must protect my own rights.
 
Very truly yours
 
LION PUBLISHING COMPANY
Don D. Robey
 
DDR:J
APRIL 6, 1953 MONDAY
 
For the second time Elvis Presley visit to the Tennessee State Employment office states that  he has reevaluated his professional ambitions and wants to operate "big lathes".
 
APRIL 9, 1953 THURSDAY
 
"Elvis Prestley, guitarist", as he was mistakenly listed in the program, was 16th on a bill of 22  acts in the Annual Minstrel Show put on by Humes High School to raise money for various  school projects. On the 8:00 p.m. revue he reportedly sang "Cold Icy Fingers", which appears  to have been the same song remembered by Ms. Elsie Marmann. Due to the enthusiastic  response following his performance, Elvis was allowed the program's only encore and he  sang "Til I Waltz Again With You". There were an estimated 1500 students, faculty and  parents in attendance that night.
 
"I wasn't popular in school, I wasn't dating anybody there. I failed music - only thing I ever  failed. And then they entered me in this talent show, and I came out and did my "Till I  Waltz Again With You" by Teresa Brewer, and when I came onstage I heard people kind of rumbling and whispering and so forth, 'cause nobody knew I even sang. It was amazing how  popular I became after that. Then I went on through high school and I graduated", recalled  Elvis Presley.
 
UNKNOWN DATE MAY 1953
 
Later one night at the Cotton Club in West Memphis, Arkansas, Elvis Presley met bluessinger  Mae Glover. He also with her at many clubs at Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee.
LILLIE MAE HARDISON GLOVER - Also called Big Mama Blues, and May Rainey Two, was born in  1906 into a family dominated by her father, a pastor. His strict disciplinarian-ism backfired when she ran away from home at the age of fourteen (with a local lad named Tom Simpson)  to join a travelling carnival where she won prizes for her singing and dancing. 
 
Her travelling  began in 1919 and continued through the golden age of the classic women blues singers, her  path crossing at one time or another with Bessie Smith, Ida Cox, Ethel Waters, Sara Martin,  and Ma Rainey. She appearing on the same show with Ma for two weeks at the old Frolic  Theater in Birmingham.
 
She returned to her family briefly before taking off again, this time with Jim Hayden, and  travelled throughout the South as a singer and comedienne with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels,  she also travelled with the Bronze Mannequins, the Vampin' Baby Show, the Georgia  Minstrels, Harlem in Havana, and others. She was with Nina Benson's Medicine Show when  she first visited Memphis and Beale Street in 1928; and from then on, even though she was  backwards and forwards on the road, Memphis was her home base. After her marriage to  Willie Glover, a cook in a Memphis restaurant, her on-stage appearances were at night  spots around Memphis and occasionally at the Midnight Rambles, the risque revue staged  weekly for white audience at the Palace Theater. Lillie Mae Clover also performed  frequently in the Palace's amateur shows, and sing in many of the clubs in the Beale area,  Citizens Club, Manhattan Club, Coca-Cola Club, Hotel Improvement Club.
 
"It was always a piano in the back of the joints, and drums. The boys would play and I'd sing,  and we'd just call ourselves balling. Especially on Thursday, which is cook's ball day, when  the cooks got paid. The boys would be on the stem for the cooks on Thursday because they  knowed the cooks was going to get off and spend their money".
 
Among other Big Mama singing and drinking with on Beale in various areas were Memphis  Slim (Peter Chatman, blues pianist) and none other than Bessie Smith. "I had met Bessie on  the road, and when she came to Memphis to play the Palace, she'd stop to see me".
 
By the 1950s Beale Street had slowed down so much that Big Mama found herself playing  more and more for white audience. It was at a white night spot, the Cotton Club in West  Memphis, Arkansas, she and Elvis Presley first met, that Mama spent seven years  performing, the longest booking of her life. Being at the Cotton Club was something like  old times for her; the brawling in this hangout for roughneck whites was as prevalent as it  had been in the dives on Beale Street. On April 19, 1953, Big Memphis Ma Rainey recorded  for Sun Records "Call Me Anything, But Call Me"/"Baby, No!" (SUN 184). At times she sang  with other bands, even a white hillbilly group. She sang their country and rock and roll.  Whenever she sang them, the blues were always special to her.
 
Big Mama Glover died at her apartment in Memphis, in the same building were Elvis  Presley lived in the Lauderdale Courts on March 27, 1985.
MAY 23, 1953 SATURDAY
 
Ronald Smith was at it again. With virtually no notice, he booked "his band", including Elvis  Presley, to play a private party at Lodge Banquet, downtown Memphis' Columbia Mutual  Towers on Main Street, just north of Court Square. This Saturday night engagement took  place during the Annual Cotton Festival in Memphis. 
 
One of Ronald's friends Mary Scott, had suggested that her dad hire a teenage band to play  at the Columbia Mutual Towers. Ronald Smith and Elvis Presley joined with Ray and James Damon Secton to play in the activity room at the twelve-story Columbia Mutual Towers  building. The dance was an adult affair, and the band stuck primarily to country and pop  tunes. Elvis Presley was delighted with his job.
 
"I called Raymond and Damon Sexton. They were both singers", said Smith. "I got Johnny  Fine on bass. Then Mary Scott, who had told me about this gig, mentioned Elvis Presley. I  called him and told him we would each be making three or four dollars for the night and if  he wanted, he could join us up there. When Elvis Presley showed up, Raymond and Damon  and Fine huddled on the corner outside the building. They said they didn't want to go on if  Elvis were going to be on stage also. So, just Elvis and I ended up performing".
 
"Lee Adkins was playing in the regular band at the Odd Fellows Hall on Main Street, which was up on the  second floor, and we were to playing during that band's intermissions". "I wasn't scared at  all. I had been playing at KWEM radio with Scotty Moore and Bill Black even before Elvis  met them. Anyway, just the two of us went on. There wasn't anything Elvis couldn't sing  bluegrass, country, gospel. He was nervous that night, but years later he learned to turn  that nervousness into a positive and let it work for him. He was so nervous he kept dropping his guitar pick and one time he said, 'I'm just going to leave it there', and kept on  picking and singing".
 
"I think he was nervous because he wanted to be accepted. He sang Marty Robbins, he  sang "Crying In The Chapel, "Money Honey", "Tryin' To Get To You". We sang the  intermissions and, man, they were long intermissions", said Ronald Smith.
 
It was also about this time, as discussed earlier, that Elvis Presley began showing up regularly at the   Hi-Hat Supper Club, located at South Third Street, (Highway 61) Memphis, Tennessee, to watch Eddie Bond and   The Stompers.  The importance of the influence of the band that Eddie Bond put together for   the Hi-Hat should be further emphasized. 
 
In addition to Ronald Smith on guitar, it included   drummer Mark Waters, and piano player Aubrey Meadows, Dixie Locke frequently come with   Elvis Presley to the Hi-Hat Supper Club. After adding Ace Cannon on saxophone to give the   combo a pop sound, he brought in Elvis Presley as the vocalist.
 
"I was singing at the Hi-Hat Club down on South Third", Eddie Bond recalls. "I was a country   and western singer. I couldn't sing pop worth a toot. Still can't. Ronald Smith knew Elvis,   knew he could sing pop, and Ronald suggested I hire Elvis to sing the pop songs with our   band. I had known Elvis before when he sang over at the Home for Incurables. My daddy   sold paint to the Home. I had met Elvis over there, knew he could sing anything".
 
"So, I asked Elvis if he wanted to sing pop with Eddie Bond and the Stompers down at the   Hi-Hat and he jumped at the chance. He came down and began singing with us. He sang   three or four weeks with us". "Sitting right in front of the bandstand were a man and two   women. We called them the Board of Directors. One of them owned the club. After they   heard Elvis and saw Elvis, they came to me and said, 'If you don't get rid of that greasyhaired   redneck, we will get rid you of you''!
 
"I was making $1500 a week at the time. Not long out of high school. That was big money   in those days. I wasn’t about to give that up. What else could I do?", said Bond. "So I fired   Elvis!. Not long after that, Elvis recorded "That's All Right", the record took off, Elvis took   off, headed toward becoming a legend!".
 
"The owner of the club came to me then and said, 'We might let him back if he wants to   come back". "I went to Elvis and gave him the offer. He kind of laughed. Said, sure, he   would come back to the Hi-Hat, but it would cost them $2500 a week!".
 
Not long after Elvis' first hit record with Sun Records, Eddie Bond joined the Sun label,   together with Johnny cash, Carl Perkins and Warren Smith. "When my record came out", said   Bond. "Bob Neal asked us to tour with Elvis Presley and we did until Bob sold Elvis' contract   to Tom Parker", Bond said.
 
When Ronald Smith and Elvis Presley attended the Memphis Cotton Carnival and played for   Mary Scott's dad at the Columbia Mutual Towers, Barbara Hearn came along for fun. 
 
During   this appearance, Elvis Presley talked to Barbara and Ronald about the Memphis music   scene. He was aware of Sam Phillips' Sun Records label. When Phillips' second group of   records was released in March 1953, Elvis Presley went to the House of Records and found   and bought the recordings.
 
A South Side coat, wanting to go to the Odd Fellows gig, but not being allowed to go   "uptown" alone, called one of Barbara Hearn classmates to see if she would like to go   alone. "They're going to have this new hillbilly singer there. I think you'd like him. So   please go with me". "What's this new singer's name?" asked her friend. "Elvis Presley".   "What's an Elvis?" Barbara Hearn asked, then decided to go alone with her eager friend.
DIXIE LOCKE - Born in 1938 in Memphis, Tennessee. Girlfriend of Elvis Presley during his high  school days. They both attended the First Assembly of God Church at 1885 McLemore  Avenue in Memphis. Locke first met Elvis Presley at the Hi-Hat Supper Club in Memphis and  at the Rainbow Rollerdrome in the winter of 1953 and dated him steadily until late 1955. The  two went to the Southside High School prom together, double-dating with Gene Smith and  his date, Betty. Locke became president of the first Elvis Presley fanclub. The popular  photograph of Elvis' prom night is actually Dixie's prom in 1954. 
 
Some believe that Elvis Presley wanted to marry Dixie, but before he could, she decided  to break off their relationship with Elvis because he was on the road too often.  She  married, becoming Mrs. Dixie Emmons. Locke was loosely portrayed by Melody Anderson as  a girl named Bonnie in the 1979 TV movie Elvis. Today Dixie Locke Emmons is the church  secretary of the Alpha Congregation of the Temples of the Living God on 1084 East  McLemore Avenue in Memphis.
 
BARBARA HEARN - Born in Memphis, Barbara Hearn became close friends with Elvis Presley from 1956  to 1957. In fact, such close friends that she was referred to as a “frequent companion of Elvis Presley.”  Referred to so often, she used to joke that no matter what wonderful things she might accomplish in life, “frequent companion of Elvis Presley” would probably figure prominently in her obituary.  Hearn played a bit part in the 1957 movie "Loving You". While at Elvis Presley's house on 1034 Audubon  Drive in Memphis, Hearn got the opportunity to hear the acetate for "Any Way You Want Me" before RCA  released the song. 
 
After attending the University of Memphis, she moved to Washington in 1961 to work in the office of  Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver. It was there that she met her lawyer husband Jim who had begun working  in the U.S. government.
 
In 2006, Holly Tree Manor became a Bed & Breakfast as so many Elvis fans over the years have expressed  an interest in meeting Barbara. To accommodate them, she and her husband decided recently to abandon  their plans for a leisurely, laid back retirement to open their home to Elvis fans worldwide.
 
Now, after raising their three children, five grandchildren and traveling the world with Jim's job as a CIA  agent, Barbara and Jim are looking forward to meeting Elvis fans, getting to know them, and reminiscing  about her Elvis years.
SUMMER 1953
 
It was also Eddie Bond who tried to persuade Elvis Presley to play at Red's Place on Highway  61, Frayser, Tennessee. Red's was a bucket-of-blood-type night club saloon that drew the  worst local rednecks. Most bands were afraid to play to his crowd because of the nightly  brawls.
 
A sign at the door warned people not to urinate inside the club, and a bouncer  checked patrons for weapons as they entered. The police came in every hour, looked  around, and checked the bathrooms for troublemakers. People who ignored the club's signs  were the least of its problems; the club was plagued by fistfights, knifings, and an occasional  shooting.
 
Paul Burlison, lead guitarist with Johnny Burnette Rock And Roll Trio, remembers  the band having to fight its way off stage because a small coterie of roughnecks didn't like  the way that they played a Bob Wills song. It was into this environment that Eddie Bond tried  to coax Elvis Presley, who refused to be coaxed. It was not only too rough, but few people  listened to the music. "Can't play that place", Elvis Presley told Ronald Smith. "They'll tear  my head off". Smith laughed, but Eddie Bond persisted. Elvis Presley instead persuaded Bond  that he should sit in with the Stompers at the Hi-Hat, and he'd think about playing Red's.  Frightened by the "ambience" at Red's Place, Elvis Presley never did.
SUMMER 1953
 
An important part of Elvis Presley's show business education during the summer of 1953 resulted from  discussions with musicians who cut their own records. The proliferation of small records labels, the rise of vanity  recording studios, hobbyists operating in garages, and the hustling businessmen who promoted this product led to  a boom in homemade records. Everyone thought that they could produce a hit record. No one was more  confident of his ability to cut his own records than Charlie Feathers.
 
While he was growing up in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Feathers remembered how ''the cottonpatch blues'' used to  inspire him. This was the music played by black field workers, and it became the most important influence upon  his unique country-rockabilly style.
 
''When you take the blues out of country or rockabilly'', Feathers remarked,  ''you ain't got no more country music''. 
 
With Stan Kesler, Feathers wrote ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget'', and  he became a Memphis musical legend. Long before Elvis Presley appeared in local clubs or recorded for Sun  Records, Feathers was performing a rockabilly type of music very similar to that heard on Elvis' Sun recordings.  Sam Phillips discovered Feathers' talent and hired him as a studio musician, house songwriter, and musical  arranger. Not only was Feathers present at Elvis' recording sessions, but Memphis musicians spoke constantly of  Feathers' contribution to Elvis' music. Stan Kesler, Marcus Van Story, Ronald Smith, Paul Burlison, Kenneth  Herman, and Doug Poindexter were around the Sun studio in 1953 and 1954 and remembers Fathers.
 
In March 1955, when Charlie Feathers recorded his first Sun single, ''I've Been Deceived'', his music was rockabilly. There is no doubt that he influenced Elvis, because Feathers was an open, somewhat naive, man who readily shared his musical ideas. For years, the critics have scoffed at Feathers' claim that he influenced Elvis. Yet, every important musician who hung out at Sun Records or recorded with Sam Phillips speaks of Feathers' contribution. Elvis listened and watched and used the best of Charlie Feathers' material. In most of his songs, Elvis was a singer who copied other styles, and Feathers was one of Elvis' earliest influences. Since Feathers talked about cutting his own records, it was only natural for Elvis to do the same. Feathers does not appear to be an important influence upon Elvis only because his reputation has never been more than that of an obscure legend. To some, Feathers is a legend in his own mind. To others, he is a legitimate rockabilly pioneer. After interviewing a number of Memphis musicians, it is clear that Feathers is a seminal figure in the Sun Elvis story. ''It's not that Elvis copies Charlie Feathers'', Ronald Smith remarked, ''but he sure did build on Feathers' music''.
UNKNOWN DATE MAY 1953
 
Elvis Presley performed at the Silver Stallion Night Club, located at 1447 Union Avenue,  Memphis. This change was noticeable as early as March 1953, when Elvis Presley began  spending more time hanging out in the Beale Street clubs. The blues that Elvis Presley heard  in these bars was transformed into a new sound.
 
In honky tonk bars like the Silver Stallion  Club, it was possible for young Elvis Presley to perform blues-tinged tunes with a rockabilly  flair. The Silver Stallion paid off the beat cop to let underage people into the bar, and they  held amateur shows each week.
 
The amateur nights at the Silver Stallion were ones that  Elvis Presley loved, because they provided some of his strangest moments as a neophyte  performer. One night, the owner of this club decided to bring in some show horses to do  tricks on the dance floor. 
 
Much to Elvis' horror, he was to follow the horse show with an acoustic guitar set. Not only was Elvis Presley unsure how the crowd would react to a singer  following the horses, his nose told him there had been an accident on the floor. The crowd  roared as Elvis Presley came on holding his nose. He laughed and the crowd cheered him. This incident was so well known in Memphis that there was even an oblique reference to it  in the Humes High School year book.
MAY 1953
 
Maywood Beach and Park was opened by Maurice and May Woodson on July 4, 1931. The Woodsons were Memphians who were looking for a change of pace from city life.
 
Maurice Woodson was a cotton linter and president of Woodson Brothers, Inc., a company that he owned with his brothers Edward and R. Peyton Woodson. Some time in the late 1920s Maurice was told by his doctor that he must give up his business for his health’s sake.
 
Soon after the couple purchased 400 acres (1.6 km2) of land in DeSoto County, Mississippi.  On the property was a clear, spring fed lake. With the help of a mule team they dug the lake out and lined the bottom with several hundred tons of white sand imported from Deston, Florida. Then, tapping down into a natural artesian water basin below the ground, they filled it with cold, clear water which eventually fed into two other lakes on the property.
 
Lake Shahkoka, as it was called, after a Chickasaw Indian who once lived on the land, soon had picnic tables, barbecue pits, pavilions, a bowling alley, and a mini golf course, as well as playgrounds, a snack bar, and tearoom at the Maywood swimming pool. (It had been renamed after Mrs. Woodson.) These amenities were added as the Woodson's sold getaway homes around their property.

The pool was a great success; Memphians came from opening day in May to its close in September. It became a surrogate beach for Memphians longing for the ocean and hosted TV commercials for Memphis-based Coppertone, publicity photos for beauty queens, weddings, baptisms, church picnics, parachutists, class reunions, and corporate gatherings. There was a pavilion on site which was a popular dance arena from the 1930s on, and Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and a host of others played there early in their careers.

For more than half a century, Maywood remained largely unchanged. It was marketed as a "Swimming Beach"; it was not called a "Water Park" until some radio ads started calling it that in the 1990s. Water slides were added over the years, but the clear lake remained spring-fed and was clear enough to see your feet while standing in five feet of water.

The unexpected news that Maywood was closing came from current owner Hugh Armistead. He blamed higher insurance costs as he explained in the Memphis newspaper, The Commercial Appeal. The lake and surrounding property were turned into a private residential development. The park closed in July 2003. The closest similar, spring-fed water park is Willow Springs Water Park, roughly three hours away by automobile.
 
MAY 26, 1953 TUESDAY
 
According to several sources, Elvis Presley may have hitch-hiked from Memphis to  Meridian, Mississippi. He supposedly made this journey so he could participate in the First  Annual Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Celebration, honouring the "father" of modern country music. The celebration commemorating the singing brakeman's musical feats was not yet a  highly commercial event. Although Rodger's untimely death of tuberculosis at age thirtysix  established his musical legacy, nevertheless, many of meridian's citizens were unhappy about the celebration. As a result, there was a mixed community reaction when Rodger's  Mississippi friends organized the weekend feat. The Meridian Star advertised a talent  contest open only to local Mississippi performers. The musical talent contest was an  attempt to showcase local artists and popularize Jimmie Rodger's music. Unwittingly, the  contest promoters attracted many fledgling rockabilly singers like Elvis Presley, performers  who were young men dreaming of fame and fortune, and who, like Elvis Presley, weren't necessarily local Mississippi performers any longer.
MAY 26, 1953 TUESDAY
 
Elvis Presley was only a week away from High School graduation, but the Jimmie Rodgers talent contest occupied all his thoughts. When Elvis Presley arrived in the sleepy Mississippi town, Elvis went immediately to the Lamar Hotel. It was in this hotel that Jimmie Rodgers was treated by his Meridian physician, Dr. Inman Cooper. To local citizens, the hotel symbolized Rodgers' tragic end.
 
Consequently, it was selected as the site of the amateur  singing contest. This magnificent old Southern hotel had a spacious ballroom, an open  garden sitting area, and a sumptuous dining room. The crowd milling around the Lamar  consisted largely of country music purists. Red, white, and blue bunting covering the stage  of the hotel, an idea proposed by the Meridian Star, mirrored a patriotic theme that pleased  most people. 
 
The contest rules were strict ones; each performer was to be given a maximum  of four minutes to perform his song. The audience ended up being shocked by some of the  entrants, which included a bunch of young kids singing uptempo rockabilly songs that,  according to one observer, violated all the hallowed traditions of country music. Clearly,  although the rockabilly revolution was on its way - with Elvis Presley was in the vanguard of  the movement - it would be an uphill battle.
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LIVE APPEARANCE FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
 
LAMAR HOTEL, 5TH STREET, DOWTOWN, MERIDIAN, MISSISSIPPI
LIVE APPEARANCE: MAY 26, 1953 TUESDAY
 
"We performed together on May 26 in Meridian at the Jimmie Rodgers Celebration. That was my birthday", said Martha Ann Barhanovich, one of the young singers on the musical contest.
 
01 - "OLD SHEP" – B.M.I.
Composer: - Clyde "Red" Foley-Willis Arthur
Red Foley and Willis Arthur wrote "Old Shep" in 1933. The song was about Foley's
19-year-old German Shepherd dog, "Hoover", who had been poisoned.
it wasn't until 1940 that Foley recorded his song.
Publisher: - L. Writh Music Limited.
Recorded: - Unknown - Elvis Presley Performance - May 26, 1953
 
02 - ''UNKNOWN''
 
 Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar (Martin Dreadnought 18)
 
Before performed, Elvis Presley, like many of the contestants, wandered around Meridian. He walked to the small city park and looked curiously at a 1904 Baldwin locomotive with eight wheels. The locomotive was painted red and protected from the public by a fence. Next to the locomotive, a statue of Jimmie Rodgers occupied a conspicuous spot. A small plaque praised Rodgers' contribution to country music.
 
During the day's celebration, a unique event occurred when Bill Bruner, a local musician who had recorded for Okeh Records, donated a guitar that Jimmie Rodgers had given to him. During a 1929 country music show in Meridian, Rodgers was too sick to perform, and Bill Bruner took his place. After the show Rodgers showed his appreciation to Bruner by giving him the guitar. It was one of Bruner's prized possessions, and he decided to pass it on to a deserving country musician. On May 26, 1953, Bruner presented the guitar to Hank Snow's son, Jimmie Rodgers Snow. As Elvis Presley viewed the ceremony, he had no idea that the next two years he would be touring with Hank Snow and his manager Colonel Tom Parker.
 
As Elvis Presley waited to go on stage, he nervously paced around behind the contestant's area. What song should he sing? What type of vocal presence should he cultivate? There was always one song that Elvis Presley felt safe performing: "Old Shep". But was this song right for the Jimmie Rodgers celebration? Elvis Presley had sung "Old Shep" many times at home, and to conquer his shaky nerves he decided to perform it in Meridian. Elvis Presley finished second in the contest and won a new guitar. The Meridian Star didn't publish a list of contestants nor the prizes awarded, and Elvis' performance generally escaped public notice, but the new guitar was prize enough. With summer approaching, Elvis Presley planned to continue performing at amateur night in local Memphis clubs, so a new guitar was a nice bonus.
 
When Elvis Presley left the Jimmie Rodgers festival, Elvis had taken his first serious step toward a professional music career. His performing style was still largely country, but Elvis Presley was responding to the signs of musical change. The clubs that he frequented in Memphis, northern Mississippi, and West Memphis, Arkansas, were vibrant with rockabilly sounds.
 
A thorough search of the Meridian Star turned up no mention of an amateur hour as part of the festivities in 1953. The affair began on the evening of May 25 with a banquet as the Railroad Trainmen's Lodge No. 373.
 
On Tuesday, May 26, a full day of activities included a train ride to the Jimmie Rodgers memorial park where a monument was dedicated, a banquet sponsored by the Jaycess, and entertainment at Meridian Junior College Stadium. Billboard's review of the festivities (June 6, 1953) does not mention any amateur contest. The confusion may come from the fact that during the May 26 singing program, one of Jimmie Rodgers' original guitars was presented to seventeen-year old Jimmie Rodgers Snow.
 
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CLYDE JULIAN "RED" FOLEY - (1910-1968) One of the founding fathers of country music, he  was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1967. Born in Bluelick, Kentucky, on June  17, 1910, Red Foley was a veteran of the Grand Ole Opry. In 1935, country singer Red Foley  composed with Willia Arthus the song "Old Shep", but Arthur never mentioned on Elvis  Presley's recordings.  In 1955 he moved to network television with "Ozark Jubilee", a show that he hosted. It  was on his program in 1956 that Elvis Presley and Charlie Hodge, lead singer of the Foggy River Boys, first together. One of Foley's daughters, Shirley Lee, is married to Pat Boone  and is the mother of singer Debby Boone, Foley's granddaughter.
 
Elvis Presley recorded a number of songs that Red Foley had previously recorded: "Shake A  Hand" (Decca 28839), "Peace In The Valley" (Decca 14573), "Old Shep" (Decca 46052), "I  Believe" (Decca 28694), "It Is No Secret" (Decca 14566), and "Just Call Me Lonesome"  (Decca 29626). Elvis Presley is believed to have recorded two other Foley songs at Sun  Records: "Tennessee Saturday Night" (Decca 46136) and "Blue Guitar" (Decca 29626). 
 
Elvis  Presley sang Foley's "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" (Decca 14505) at Eddie Fadal's house in  Waco, Texas, 1958. There is a photo of Red Foley in Vince Everett's cell in the 1957 movie "Jailhouse Rock". In  the 1975 movie "Nashville", Henry Gibson portrayed Haven Hamilton, a character loosely  based on Red Foley.
 
Clyde Julian "Red" Foley died on September 19, 1968 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
 
JAMES CHARLES "JIMMIE" RODGERS - (1897-1933) Generally acknowledged as "The Father of  Country Music", James Charles "Jimmie" Rodgers, who was born September 8, 1897 in Pine Springs, Lauderdale County, Mississippi, was a major influence on the emerging "hillbilly"  recording industry almost from the time of his first records in November 1927 when he first  introduced of his Blue Yodels (the still-popular 'T for Texas').  His father was Aaron Rodgers, a  railroad foreman and his mother was Eliza Bozeman, and he was one of 3 children. 
 
He  moved to Scooba, Mississippi, then to Meridian, Mississippi as child and raised in and around  the railroad yards learning songs and learned the instruments from the railroad workers in  his youth, won an amateur contest in the local theater in Meridian, Mississippi in 1911.
 
Then he toured briefly with the passing medicine show and worked outside the music (as  section hand on the Mobile & Ohio Railroad) from 1911 into 1912, continued working outside  the music on various railroad jobs through the Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas area in 1913  into 1923 and toured briefly with Billy Terrel's Comedians in 1923.
 
Jimmie Rodgers married Stella Kelly from 1917 to 1919 (1 child), and after divorce he  married Cecil Williamson 1920 to 1933 (2 children), Jimmy is influenced by Blind Lemon  Jefferson and influenced artists to John Arnold, Frank Floyd, Merle Haggard, John Hurt,  Kenneth Threadgill and Ernest Tubb, and, of course, Elvis Presley.
 
Although Rodgers initially conceived of himself in broader terms, singing Tin Pan Alley hits  and popular standards, his intrinsic musical talent was deeply rooted in the rural southern  environment out of which he came, as seen in the titles of many of his songs: "My Carolina  Sunshine Girl", "My Little Old Home Down In New Orleans", "Dear Old Sunny South By The  Sea", "Mississippi River Blues", "Peach Pickin' Time Down In Georgia", "Memphis Yodel", "In  The Hills Of Tennessee", the original "Blue Yodel" ("T For Texas"), and others.
 
In adapting the black country blues of his native South to the nascent patterns of  commercial hillbilly music of the day, Rodgers created a unique new form - the famous  "blue yodel" - which led the way to further innovations in style and subject matter and  exerted a lasting influence on country music as both art form and industry. Through the  force of his magnetic personality and showmanship, Rodgers almost single-handedly  established the role of the singing star, influencing such later performers as Gene Autry,  Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, Elvis Presley, George Jones, and Willie Nelson.
 
Rodgers frequently entertained for friends, social groups, and gatherings in Meridian,  Mississippi through the 1920s, and continued outside the music in 1924 into 1927.  Stricken by tuberculosis in 1924, he left the rails soon after to pursue his childhood dream  of becoming a professional entertainer. Retired from railroad work he settled in Asheville,  North Carolina to work outside the music with frequent work at the local parties and  dances in the area from 1927, appeared on the WWNC-radio in Asheville in 1927, he  formed the Jimmie Rodgers Entertainers for working at the Kiwanis carnival in Johnson  City, Tennessee in 1927.
 
After several years of hard knocks and failure, he gained an audition and first recorded on  August 4, 1927 with Ralph Peer, an independent producer who had set up a temporary  recording studio in Bristol, Tennessee, for the Victor Talking Machine Company (later RCA  Victor) in Camden, New Jersey. There, on August 4, 1927, Rodgers made his first  recordings. Working on occasional theater and club dates in Washington D.C. in 1927- 1928, appeared on the Monday Night Feature on WTFF-radio in Washington D.C in 1928,  and toured with the Loew's vaudeville circuit on working at theaters through the South  and Southeast in 1928, recorded for the Victor label in Camden New Jersey and Atlanta,  Georgia in 1928; toured with Paul English Players on working theaters dates in 1929,  recorded for the Victor label in New York City and New Orleans, Louisiana, in Dallas, Texas  and Atlanta, Georgia in 1929.
 
Within a year he reached national popularity and received billings as "The Singing  Brakeman" and "America's Blue Yodeler", appeared in the film The Singing Brakeman in  1929, and worked at the Majestic Theater in San Antonio, Texas in 1929, toured Keith- Orpheum-Interstate circuit on working theater dates through the South in 1929.
 
In 1929 he built a home in the resort town of Kerrville, Texas, and moved there in an  effort to restore his failing health. The onset of the Depression and increasing illness  further slowed the progress of his career, but throughout the early 1930s he continued to  record and perform with touring stage shows. He toured with Swain's Hollywood Follies on  working theaters trough the South in 1930, recorded for the Victor label in Hollywood,  California in 1930, and settled in San Antonio, Texas, toured with Will Rogers on working  charity shows through Texas and Oklahoma in 1931, worked on the Leslie E Kell Shows in  Houston and Dallas, Texas in 1931, recorded for the Victor label in San Antonio, Texas and  Louisville, Kentucky in 1931 into 1932.
 
Jimmie Rodgers worked with Robert Nighthawk in Jackson, Mississippi in 1931 and appeared  on his own show on KMAC-radio in San Antonio, Texas in 1932, and briefly toured with J.  Doug Morgen Show in 1932 and recorded at last for Victor label in New York City in 1933.
 
By the time of his death of pulmonary tuberculosis in New York City at 35 on May 26,  1933, he had recorded 110 titles, representing a diverse repertoire that included almost  every type of song now identified with country music: love ballads, honky-tonk tunes,  railroad and hobo songs, cowboy songs, novelty numbers, and the series of 13 blue yodels.  A statue was erected in Meridian, Mississippi in 1953. On November 3, 1961 Rodgers  became the first performer elected to Nashville's Country Music Hall of Fame,  immortalized as "the man who started it all". He won American Music Conference National  Music Award in 1976 and a US commemorative postage stamp was issued in his honour in  1979.
 
Jimmie Rodgers is buried at the Oak Grove Cemetery in Meridian, Mississippi. Although  generally neglected by historians of the blues, his adherence to the twelve-bar,  threephrase form helped promote and sustain this as the most common blues vehicle and  made country music say, "Blues, How Do You Do?". T he accuracy and authenticity of his  blues singing stand as an instructive early memorial - on records - to the interaction of  white and black that has so profoundly enriched western music in the cities and the  heartlands of America. Rodgers' efforts crystallized the white blues form and insured its  future in country music.
GOODWIN INSTITUTE - Located at 127 Madison Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, this was a hall  that Marcus Van Story played in, bringing his brand of rockabilly and blues music to Memphis'  young people. Elvis Presley played at the Institute in 1953 and 1954 and this venue was  instrumental in allowing Elvis Presley's talent to develop.
 
UNKNOWN DATE MAY 1953 FRIDAY
 
Marcus Van Story, one of the young musicians from Lauderdale Courts, recalls playing with  Elvis Presley at the Goodwyn Institute, located at 127 Madison Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, a local music hall where amateurs were encouraged to perform and led by Ray Sexton. According to Van Story, he  and Elvis Presley sang country songs here on several occasions.
 
On Friday night, Van Story's  band performed at a local hall. Sam Phillips had first heard Van Story at the Institute, and  quickly hired him as a studio musician. "Elvis would wander in and we would do mostly  country songs", Van Story remembered. "He had a real way with the crowd". 
 
Elvis Presley also ventured to West Memphis to sit in with Charlie Feather's band. They appeared on  the West Memphis Jamboree, a show hosted by Uncle Richard (Dick Steward) that was broadcast over  KWEM on Saturday nights. In a dingy back-room record shop on Beale Street in 1953, Elvis Presley  listened to Franklin McCormick's vocal on "Are You Lonesome Tonight". McCormick, a Chicago radio  announcer, was the lead singer for the Blue Barron's Orchestra in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and  his vocal stylings were similar to those Elvis Presley used in his own ballads. Elvis listened to McCormick's song, and his own version of ''Are You Lonesome Tonight'' ended up a virtual copy.
MARCUS VAN STORY - Relatively obscure, yet seminally important figure in the Sun Records  story. Born in Corinth, Mississippi on May 3, 1920 as a young man, Van Story was heavily  influenced by black musicians.
 
When he heard Deford Bailey's harmonica on the "Grand Ole Opry", Van Story was surprised to find that Bailey was black, and he began the eagerly learn  from local black artists. As a result Van Story became a multi-talented artist who could play  any instrument.
 
In the early 1950s, van Story played with the Snearly Ranch Boys, and he  toured with Warren Smith. Van Story's singing style was one that used a blues harmonica,  and he often sang "Milkcow Blues" and Arthur Crudup's "My Baby Left Me".
 
In 1953-1955, Elvis Presley performed with Marcus Van Story on a number of occasions  and they were friends from 1953 to 1955. Although he raised a family and worked a day  job, Van Story's vocal performances and musical skill had an enormous impact upon the  young Elvis Presley. 
 
The significance of Marcus van Story is that he helped Elvis Presley to  pace his early shows. At the Goodwin Institute, located at 127 Madison Avenue, Memphis,  Tennessee, where Van Story had a regular show, he taught Elvis Presley to calm down and  work the audience. Another important aspect of Van Story's influence is that he taught  Elvis Presley to wait for the instrumental break in a song and then give the musicians a  change to finish their licks. "I think Elvis learned a lot from the shows in Memphis", Van  Story remarked in 1986.
 
Marcus Van Story is one of the original musicians who crafted the rockabilly sound that made Sun  Records in Memphis famous, Van Story was known as the ''Slap Bass King'' for his prowess on the  upright bass. He toured with Memphis musicians and recorded at Sun Records during the era when  Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and other artists were redefining American music. "He  was a character'', said Barbara Pittman, who recorded at Sun from 1956-1960. "He played percussion  bass, he popped those strings''.
 
Van Story had toured and   recorded with the Sun Rhythm Section, a group of six veteran musicians who had worked with Elvis  and others. The ensemble's most recent album was ''Old Time Rock 'N Roll''. He was one of the  original rockabillies'', said his son, Eddie Van Story of Nesbit, Mississippi. "People came from all over  the world to interview him''. Van Story's longest association during the classic era of the late 1950s and  early 1960s was with Warren Smith, a Sun rockabilly star who never achieved the fame of Presley or Perkins. Smith was best known for such wild rock songs as ''Ubangi Stomp'' and ''Miss Froggie'', the  story of a woman "shaped just like a frog" who enjoyed "drinking muddy water and sleeping in a  hollow log''. On the road with Smith, Van Story would sometimes black out a tooth and paint freckles  on his face to add an element of hillbilly humor to the act.
 
Van Story first became involved in music at the local church. He moved to Memphis in 1946. He began   playing in local clubs, and made the acquaintance of Sun Records founder Sam Phillips. Van Story  added harmonica and backup vocals to some records, as well as playing bass. He recorded his only  solo album in 1977, ''Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-Oh-Dee - Memphis Wildcat Marcus Van Story''. The  album was released by Barrelhouse Records of Chicago. In recent years, Sun Rhythm Section tours  took Van Story all over the world, especially Europe. The other members of the group were D.J.  Fontana, guitarists Paul Burlison and Sonny Burgess, guitarist and bass player Stan Kesler, and  pianist Smoochy Smith. Van Story worked as a welder when not recording or on tour. For more than 14  years, he worked at ''Sweet's Trailer Hitch & 4-Wheel Drive'' shop on Summer Avenue in Memphis.  He was an Army veteran and a member of Bethel Baptist Church.
 
On Friday April 24, 1992, Marcus Van Story died at Methodist Hospital in Memphis of a   heart attack at the age of 71.
UNKNOWN DATE MAY 1953
 
Elvis Presley with Regis Wilson Vaughn, a fourteen-year-old freshman at Holy Name School,  o the senior prom, which was held at the Continental Ballroom in the Peabody Hotel.
 
He  never told Regis about the talent show at high school, he never talked about becoming a  singer, "he talked about finding a job so that he could afford to buy a house for his mother", recalled Regis Vaughn. 
 
Regis Wilson Vaughn lived in Lauderdale Courts for six years before moving to nearby  Merriweather Street. When they dated for three months during the spring of Elvis' senior  year, she was fourteen and Elvis was eighteen. Just three years later, many a teenage girl  would swoon over the idea of going to the prom with Elvis, but its doubtful anyone would  have imagined it just as it happened.
 
Elvis Presley rented a blue tuxedo and a shine blue Chevrolet for the prom. When he  picket up Regis at her house, he pinned a pink corsage on her. "It's hard to believe, but he  did not know how to dance", Regis remembers. After the prom, he took her to a drive-in  restaurant on Lamar Avenue where some of his friends said they would meet them. "We  waited and waited, but his friends never showed up". "At fourteen you can't really be in  love with someone, but I liked him a lot", Regis said. They dated until she moved to Florida  that May. When Elvis Presley performed in Miami in 1956, she went to the show and tried  to get backstage, but the security guard didn't believe her when she said she knew Elvis  Presley. "I knew him at a time when his life was simple and he was sweet. I'd just have to  say it was a special time", Regis said.
THE REAL STORY OF REGIS WILSON VAUGHN
 
She wore a new pink dress, a hairdo she got free at the beauty school and shoes she`d saved from Easter. He  rented a dark blue tuxedo and a new Chevy with money he'd made ushering at the theater. He wore blue  suede shoes. His own.
 
It was prom night for the Class of `53 at Humes High School in Memphis, Tennessee. Pompadoured and  sideburned, Elvis, the only real Elvis, future King of Rock And Roll, came to her door and pinned a pink  carnation corsage onto Regis Wilson, future housewife of Herb the Drag Bucket Salesman.
 
There's a picture in a fan magazine to prove it. Of him, it says: ''The star-to-be wearing a tuxedo for the first  time …''. About her it says: ''Gladys Presley provided this snapshot ... but could not remember the young  lady's name''.
 
Her name now is Regis Vaughn. Has been for 32 years, since she married Herb who now is a national  contract sales manager for Bassett Bedding. She's got three daughters and a lovely home in Fort Lauderdale  in Florida.
 
Regis, the unknown young lady on the star-to-be's arm, is happy and alive. Elvis, no offense, isn`t. But when  he was both, when who you took to your senior prom really meant something, Elvis took Regis. He was 18.  She was 14. It was a big deal. It got bigger.
 
''I don't go around telling people the story that much'', Regis says, ''because it's like they say 'Yeah, sure''.  Yeah, sure, Regis. And he probably danced you into the Memphis moonlight and loved you tender.  Wrong.
 
Here`s some news you'll like, boys: Elvis, who mothers would fear, who said more with a 2-second curled lip  than the rest of us will say in a lifetime, was a dud as prom dates go. ''It`s hard to believe, but he did not  know how to dance'', Regis says. ''And I loved to dance, but I said, 'That's all right. So we sat the whole  evening''.
 
Elvis sat the whole evening at his senior prom.
 
And Regis sat the whole evening beside him. Because Regis had a crush on Elvis. Had one since she used to  watch him in the playground of the housing project where they each lived. And since the day he gave her a  ride home from a birthday party a few years later.
 
But he was 18 and she was 14, which is not like being, say, 28 and 24. And isn't that just a little, uh, unusual?  ''I've read where Priscilla was 14 when he met her. And by that time he was in his 20s'', Regis says. ''So I  don`t know. Maybe...''.
 
Maybe Elvis was looking for someone to replace the girl he took to his senior prom because that girl left  him. Moved to Florida. Faded out of his life like a black and white promenade photo. Gone. As if he`d never  sat beside her in the front-porch glider, parted his handsome and formidable lips and sung right into her  barely teen-aged face: ''Evening shadows make me blue; when each weary day is through; how I long to be  with you, my happiness...''.
 
Maybe Regis Wilson broke Elvis Presley's heart. Fact is, we know Elvis kept his picture from the senior  prom; Regis lost hers in the move to Florida. And just maybe it`s no coincidence that ''My Happiness'' ended  up on a 45 from a boy in Memphis.  Maybe Elvis needed you, Regis Wilson Vaughn. Maybe Herb does, too. But darn it, Elvis didn`t have many  friends. Not even on prom night.
 
''There was supposed to be a party at a drive-in on Lamar Street after the prom'', Regis says. ''Some of his  friends were going to meet us there, so we drove there and waited and waited, but his friends never showed  up''.
 
So on his senior prom night, what should have been the biggest night of his life, Elvis didn`t dance with his  date, didn`t party because his friends stood him up. The future King, our King, ended his date by midnight,  then drove off in his rented car and rented tux.
 
We don`t know what he did next. So let's believe that Elvis went to Beale Street in his blue suede shoes and  danced like a man whose sideburns weren`t all that made him different.
 
There was trouble in the Wilson house and her parent' divorce led to Regis moving here. She had been seeing  Elvis for about six months when she left.
 
Their first date had been to a gospel singing, and Elvis sort of embarrassed her when he tried to hit the high  notes along with the quartets. She says that he used to talk about the future, about having a job and buying a  house for mama.
 
And here's how Elvis talked to the girl he took to his senior prom: ''He said to me 'You look pretty when I  look you right in the face, but if you turn sideways, you don't have a good profile'', says Regis. ''It`s funny I  should even remember that''.
 
Then Regis left to become the girl whose name Gladys Presley couldn't remember and Elvis went on to  become Elvis.
 
''At 14, you can`t really be in love with someone'', Regis says, ''but I liked him a lot. I didn`t want to say  goodbye, I just wanted to leave it at that point''.
 
When Elvis played Miami in 1956, she went to the theater and tried to get backstage. ''But I know Elvis'', she  told the security guard. ''Sure you do'', said the guard.
 
She gets back to Memphis for funerals. She didn`t go to its biggest one. She thinks all of that is a shame.  ''What happened to him later in life was tragic'', Regis says. ''I knew him at a time when his life was simple,  and he was sweet. I'd just have to say it was a special time''.
 
Regis kept her prom dress, but not because it was the one she wore to go out with Elvis. That's why she  keeps it now, but back then she kept it because she used it again when she was a junior at Fort Lauderdale  High. When she started to school there, her new friends asked her if she had a boyfriend. ''Well, I had one  back in Memphis'', Regis told them. ''His name was Elvis''.
UNKNOWN DATE SUMMER 1953
 
While listening to Charley's records during his senior year at Humes High, Elvis Presley talked at length to  Ronald Smith about his hopes for a music career, Elvis' early thoughts about show business were also  articulated to the son of the First Assembly of God paster, James E. Hamill. By the summer of 1953, as Elvis Presley walked down to the First Assembly of God church at 1085 McLemore Avenue, he considered his  musical options.
 
"Elvis Presley wanted to be a gospel singer", Ronald Smith remarked. "He liked pop and  hillbilly music, but it made him uneasy. He was a religious young man with a feeling for the church".
 
Humes High School classmate memory of Elvis by Juanita Richardson-Mitchell. ''Since Elvis lived near by, I  did see him quite a bit, but we weren’t close friends. 
 
We were in the same homeroom and had a class  together in the 12th grade. I remember one funny story. We were invited to a weiner roast at Mattie’s house. I  rode with Elvis and his friends because they didn’t know where she lived. When we arrived, Mattie’s dad  was "supervising" the festivities. When Elvis got out of the car and started, well, being his usual nutty self by  taking off a silly floppy hat and slapping it against his leg and dancing around to the music, Mattie‘s dad was  not terribly amused. He was sure that Elvis was drunk. We convinced "Dad" that Elvis wasn’t under the  influence; he was just "normally" that way!
 
After Elvis became well known, I saw him in Lowenstein’s Department Store located at 27 South Main  Street. I didn’t want to bother him ( I figured that enough people were doing that already) so I walked on by.  Then I heard him say "What! Aren’t you speaking these days''? I turned and said "Sure, I just figured you  wouldn’t want to be spoken to''! He laughed and said "My friends will always be my friends''. We had a nice  chat, right there in the middle of the store. It was nice to catch up''.
 
REVEREND JAMES E. HAMILL - Pastor of the First Assembly of God Church at 1085  McLemore Avenue in Memphis, which the Presley's attended. In the fall of 1953 Reverend   James E. Hamill held an audition at the church to form a gospel quartet. Elvis Presley   auditioned and after he sang, Hamill told him, "Give it up". Reverend Hamill gave the   eulogy at Gladys Presley's funeral in August 1958.
DATE SUMMER 1953
 
Elvis Presley discovered the music at Grady Loftin's Cotton Club, Broadway Street, in West  Memphis, Arkansas. This was one of the most popular spots in the area for musicians to play  after hours. 
 
Johnny Burnette often accompanied Elvis Presley, and they were greatly  influenced by the blues and rockabilly sounds that local musicians employed in  extemporaneous jam sessions. Paul Burlison remembers going in the back door of the Cotton  Club to talk to Howlin' Wolf. "We all loved the Wolf's music, it had something special to it". 
 
Also on the Cotton Club, Elvis Presley watched Harmonica Frank play a small harmonica.  "Harmonica Frank could put that thing in his mouth and play it like a violin", Marcus Van  Story noted. "No one could play blues licks better than Harmonica Frank", Ronald Smith  added. "Elvis Presley was in awe of his talent".
 
One such incident involved with Clyde Leoppard, whose band performed at the Cotton  Club in West Memphis, Arkansas. Leoppard's earliest band, the Snearly Ranch Boys, were  musical legends.
 
Around the same time at Elvis' first private recording session at the Sun  studio, Leoppard informed Presley that he couldn't sing anymore during intermissions at  the Cotton Club. "I can sing as well as anyone in your band", Elvis remarked. "Forget it,  kid", Leoppard replied.
 
Marcus Van Story couldn't figure out the reason for this exchange  between Elvis Presley and Clyde Leoppard. Of course, it didn't help that the young girls  hung around the bandstand when Elvis Presley played. 
 
It was obvious that there was  something about Elvis Presley that irritated Leoppard. As it turned out, Leoppard had  complained for months to Charlie Feathers that Elvis Presley was doing his best to get into  the band, and that he thought Elvis was a brash kid who needed more experience before  he would ever play for him.
 
In 1960, the Cotton Club in West Memphis was closed after an under-age girl who had  visited the club was murdered nearby.
UNKNOWN DATE SUMMER 1953
 
One night during the summer of 1953, as Elvis Presley sat in the back of Flamingo, a Beale  Street Night Club, a young, black piano player, Billy "The Kid" Emerson, approached him, and  they spent some time talking about the local music scene. During this visits with Elvis  Presley at the Flamingo, Emerson played a number of Big Joe Turner songs.
 
Afterward, as  they talked, Emerson told Elvis the story of a song he had written while listening to Turner.  The tune was entitled "When It Rains, It Really Pours", and it had a powerful impact upon  Elvis Presley. "That song", Emerson remarked to Colin Escott, "was nearly a monster seller. I  wanted Elvis to cut it".
 
UNKNOWN DATE SUMMER JUNE 1953
 
Elvis Presley with some friends stopped by Meteor Recording Studio, located on 1794  Chelsea Avenue in Memphis, for an private recording. Meteor Records was owned and  operated by the brothers Lester and Jules Bihari, and during the short visit, Jules Bihari  reference Elvis Presley and his friends to Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Service, located  on 706 Union Avenue, for make your private records.
 
JUNE 1, 1953 MONDAY
 
Jim Bulleit, owner of Bullet Records in Nashville, drove five singing prisoners at the  Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville to Memphis. The Prisonaires arrived at 706 Union  Avenue to make their first record for Sun Records (SUN 186). It is very likely, the item about  the session in an article on June 2, 1953 from reporter Clark Porteous, that captured the  attention of Elvis Presley.
 
At 10:30 a.m., they grouped themselves around a microphone at the Sun Records studio,  at the junction of Union and Marshall Avenues in Memphis. The guard and the trusty went  next door to Taylor's Restaurant, and the group tried to get a recording balance for Sun Records' owner Sam Phillips. They sang in the sweet close harmony style for which Phillips  had little affection, so he called over to local bottling and vending don, Drew Canale, and  asked if his houseboy, Joe Hill Louis, could come down and sit in on guitar. Louis' music  was at the polar opposite extreme of black music: raw, unsophisticated and bluesy. "You  guys are good", said Louis to Bragg, "but you've got to stick together". Bragg replied that,  with three of the group in for 99 years, there was not much change of doing otherwise.
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©  

STUDIO SESSION FOR THE PRISONAIRES
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1953
 
SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: JUNE 1, 1953 MONDAY
SESSION HOURS: 10:30 A.M. TO 8:30 P.M.
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
 
Johnny Bragg, the lead singer of the Prisonaires, suggests that Elvis Presley's face was a familiar sight at Sun as early as June 1953. Bragg clearly recalled that Elvis Presley was present during the all-day session on June 1, 1953 that resulted in "Just Walkin' In The Rain".
 
"I was having problems phrasing some of the words", said Bragg. "Sam was ready to give up on it, and here come this guy out of nowhere, wearing raggedy blue jeans. He said, "I believe I can help him pronounce the words". Sam got mad. He said, "Didn't I tell you to stay outta here? These men are prisoners. We're likely to be sued". I said, "If he thinks he can help me phrase this thing, give him a chance". I was getting disgusted because Sam didn't like "Just Walkin' In The Rain", and I knew it could amount to something. Eventually, Sam said, "Ok, let him try", so we took a break, and Elvis Presley worked with me on my diction. He didn't know too much about what he was doing, but he worked with me on it, and when we went back, we got it the first cut". According to Bragg, that visitor, was Elvis Presley. If so, it means he was hanging around the Sun studio a year before his first record was cut, which invites a minor re-write of history. Bragg may have telescoped the time frame, confusing the first Prisonaires session with a later one; certainly, there is no mention of Presley in his article. Still, its fairly clear that Elvis Presley met Bragg at some point in 1953 or early 1954 when the  Prisonaires were recording for Sun. The last Prisonaires session logged at Sun was in February 1954, although they returned for another unlogged session, when Sam Phillips recorded them over outtakes of Elvis Presley's reeltape "Good Rockin' Tonight". Elvis Presley remembered Johnny Bragg and went to the Tennessee State Penitentiary in 1960 to visit him - "He has known Bragg from back when he was starting out", said the accompanying report.
 
01 - "JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN" – B.M.I. - 2:45
Composer: - Robert Riley-Johnny Bragg-Buddy Killen
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Wortham Music - Golden West Melodies
Matrix number: - U 76
Recorded: - June 1, 1953
Released: - July 8, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm standard single SUN 186-A mono
JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN / BABY PLEASE
Reissued:  - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15523 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN
 
This is, perhaps even primitive, vocal harmony record with minimal instrumental support, which is precisely what five guys sitting around a prison cell should sound like. So much for "Just Walkin' In The rain", which went on to become a minor standard after Johnnie Ray cut it three years later.

Joe Hill Louis hard edge brought considerable counterpoint to the relatively smooth harmonies of "Baby Please". Sam Phillips wasn't at his best in trying to produce the Prisonaires, and, surprisingly, he saw "Baby Please" as the top side.  They worked on two songs until 8:30 p.m. Louis gave a hard, bluesy edge to one of the songs, "Baby Please" - for which he was paid $10.00, but the group persuaded Phillips to make Louis sit out the other song, "Just Walking In The Rain". Sam Phillips saw potential in "Baby Please", but Johnny Bragg and the other group members knew that "Just Walking In The Rain" held something special. They didn't want its poignancy destroyed by Louis' rough-hewn guitar licks. 
02 - "BABY PLEASE" – B.M.I. - 2:25
Composer: - Robert Riley
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Wortham Music - Golden West Melodies
Matrix number: - U 75
Recorded: - June 1, 1953
Released: - July 8, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm standard single SUN 186 mono
BABY PLEASE/ JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15523 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN
 
Most of an interview with Johnny Bragg was reported on June 2, 1953 by Clark Porteous in the "Memphis Commercial Appeal". Porteous made no mention of another visitor to the session.
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Bragg - Lead Tenor Vocal, has been in prison since he was 16,
thinks he is 27 now.  Under sentence he cannot be paroled.
John E. Drue - Lead Tenor Vocal, 29 years-old, doubles as master of
ceremonies.  His regular job is chauffeur for the prison's warde. 
William Steward - Baritone Vocal and Guitar, for eight other children
in family despite his confinement,  30-years-old, has become photographer,
movie projectionist and musician singer being imprisoned  at the age of 17.
Marcell Sanders - Bass Vocal, 29-years-old, had brief formal voice training.
He will pass up parole to remain with quintet.
Ed Thurman - Tenor Vocal, 36-years-old, he once attended college, teaches
prison Bible study group.
Joe Hill Louis - Electric Guitar
Probably Elvis Presley - Acoustic Rhythm Guitar
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
THE PRISONAIRES - Johnny Bragg, 27-years-old from Nashville, was the lead singer in the  Prisonaires. Other members of the group are, John Drue, 29 years-old from Lebanon, lead  tenor vocal; Marcel Sanders, 29-years-old from Chattanooga, bass vocal; 30-year-old Williams  Steward, baritone vocal and guitar who has been imprisoned since he was 17 years old, got  to crying, his mother was crying; and Edward Thurman, 36-years-old from Nashville, tenor  vocal.
 
The group was made up of inmates from the Tennessee State Penitentiary. They wrote  and recorded for Sun Records. According to prison records, Johnny Bragg was a badass kid,  born in Nashville, Tennessee on January 18, 1926, and jailed on May 8, 1943 on six counts  of rape.
 
According to Bragg, he was born on May, 1929 (the earlier date is his brother's birth  date, which he used because the City had no trace of his own birth), and the prison term  was the result of a frame-up and terrible misunderstanding. "My troubles started when I was  twelve years old", said Bragg cagily. "My friend was dating my girlfriend, we got to fighting,  and she said I tried to rape her. While they had me, they put all these unsolved cases on me,  told the peoples I was the one. Later some of them said they was wrong, and wanted to clear  their consciences before they died. A lady goes to my church, and she shakes her head and  says, 'We sure did you wrong, John'".
 
Once inside, Bragg joined a gospel group with Ed Thurman, William Steward, Clarence  Moore and another whom Bragg recalls only as 'Sam'. They subsequently argued, and Bragg  formed another group called the Prisonaires. He later brought in 36 year-old Thurman (99 years for murder) as manager, and 30 year-old Steward (99 years for murder) as music  director. Guitarist Steward had a convict since his seventeenth birthday. They were joined  in the early 1950s by John Drue (3 years for larceny), and Marcel Sanders (1 to 5 years for involuntary manslaughter). Incidentally, it appears as though Steward was not the same  William Steward who recorded country blues for Sun. The William "Talking Boy" Steward  tapes were recorded in 1951, and Bragg recalls that William Steward never played country blues.
 
It is unclear how the Prisonaires came to be heard outside the prison walls. A  contemporary report stated that Joe Calloway of WSIX, Nashville, was at the prison for a  newscast, heard the group and arranged for them to have a regular show on WSIX, and on  the local black station, WSOK. Calloway's approach came as a wind of change was blowing  through the prison. Previously known as 'Swafford's Graveyard' after the previous warden,  the jail was now being managed by James Edwards, a friend of Governor Frank Clement,  who wanted to prepare the inmates for their return to society.
 
According to Johnny Bragg, he had already made contact with the outside world - in  particular with hillbilly singers, who would come to the penitentiary to buy songs. "Word  go around there was a nigger who could write any kind of songs", said Bragg. "Hank  Williams come out there, Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, Little Jimmie Dickens... they all come".  Among the songs that Bragg claims to have sold was "Your Cheatin' Heart", and it is at least  possible that Williams bought the genesis of the song from Bragg, as he bought other songs  that he made uniquely his own. One of those who came to the prison looking for  copyrights was Red Wortham, owner of Wortham Music.
 
Johnny Bragg says that Wortham came to buy songs from him; according to the  'Commercial Appeal' report, Wortham came to the prison to check out a hillbilly songwriter  (possible Clarence "Two Hats" McKeel who later wrote songs for Hugh X. Lewis and others,  and helped write the lead-sheet for "Just Walking In The Rain"), but was asked to listen to  the Prisonaires.
 
Not regarding himself a judge of rhythm and blues acts, Wortham sent a tape of the  Prisonaires made at WSIX to his cousin, Jim Bulleit. By that point, Bulleit had a long career  in the Nashville music business - as a partner in Bullet Records, as manager of his own  labels, and representative of others. Early in 1953 he bought himself a minority holding in  Sun Records, and one of his first moves was to forward Wortham's tape to Sam Phillips  with the recommendation that the group be signed. That tape is probably the one that  contains earlier versions of "Just Walking In The Rain" and "Baby Please", together with the  Louis Jordan tune "That Chick's Too Young To Fry". The songs were tapes over a WSIX radio  show, "Youth On Parade", starring Pat Boone.
 
Johnny Bragg recalled that he had written "Just Walking In The Rain" (SUN 186) in  conjunction with Robert Riley, an inmate who couldn't sing. They were walking to the prison  laundry, when Bragg said, "Here we are walking in the rain. I wonder what the little girls are  doing?". Riley said it sounded like a good song title, and they quickly worked up the song.
 
Bulleit evidently persuaded Phillips to record the group, while Wortham retained the  music publishing rights. Sam Phillips released "Just Walking In The Rain" on July 8, 1953.  On July 28, Jud Phillips went to Nashville to meet Bulleit and the Prisonaires. Jud had  joined Sun a few months earlier, and was learning the fine art of record promotion and  distribution. "They boys (Prisonaires) are getting from 10 to 25 letters a day from all over  the country", wrote Jud. "They plan to bring all of them to you when they come over. They  make me think of a bunch of baby birds. They are fine boys all of them. I get great joy out  of helping people like that... I know you do too".
 
Phillips also got great joy from watching the orders roll in. Ebony magazine reported that  "Just Walkin' In The Rain" sold almost a quarter of a million copies, and heaped praise on  the Sun label. If Sam Phillips was able to press 50,000 of this song he was lucky, but the publicity was important to Sun.
 
The Prisonaires' lead singer, Johnny Bragg, told a number of reporters that Elvis Presley  helped with the lyrics to "Just Walkin' In The Rain". Colin Escott and Martin Hawkins, in  Good Rockin' Tonight, published in 1991, report Braggs' claim that Elvis Presley was in the studio when the Prisonaires recorded "Just Walkin' In The Rain". It is unlikely that Elvis  Presley was hanging around Sun Records during the Prisonaires recording sessions. "It was  hard to keep Elvis Presley from the studio", Marcus Van Story remembered. "He loved the Prisonaires gospel sound". Despite this, Bragg's claim remains unsubstantiated. "I don't  remember Elvis watching the Prisonaires record", Ronald Smith commented. The  Prisonaires were nevertheless an important influence upon both Elvis Presley and Sam  Phillips. Elvis Presley was mesmerized by Bragg's vocals, and Sam Phillips was intrigued by  the crossover sound the Prisonaires produced.
 
The group making personal appearances on day passes throughout the state, and - with  considerable complication - outside the state. They were held up by Warden Edwards  and Governor Clement as shining examples of rehabilitation. "The hopes of tomorrow  rather than the mistakes of yesterday", gushed Clement, who brought the group to the  governor's mansion, and bought William Steward a new guitar. His enthusiasm earned him  the unissued paean "What About Frank Clement (A Mighty, Mighty Man)", which had "Parole  - Please" written all over it.
 
Sam Phillips found it impossible to continue the Prisonaires' success, however. As the  follow-up record to "Just Walkin' In The Rain" Phillips selected "Softly And Tenderly" (SUN  189). Billboard reviewed this release enthusiastically, but it failed to sell in large numbers. Sun Records then released two more pop Prisonaires records before the group faded into  obscurity. There remain a number of unreleased Prisonaires recording, years later,  released by Bear Family Records in Germany.
 
Around early 1955, the group started breaking up. Drue and Sanders were released,  followed by Steward and Thurman. Surprisingly, Thurman's release excited some  controversy in the local press, "The people of Tennessee can only hope that the killers still  behind bars are non singers", said the editorial in the Nashville Tennessean on April 29,  1955. Bragg re-formed the Prisonaires as the Marigolds with a new set of faces including  Hal Hebb (Bobby Hebb's brother).
 
Unknown to Bragg, though, events were taking place that would help to secure his future  once he got outside. In May 1954, Joe Johnson (later president of Challence Records, then  working for Gene Autry's publishing company, Golden West Melodies) arranged for Autry to acquire the copyright of "Just Walking In The Rain" from Red Wortham, shortly after, Autry  recorded a dismal version for Columbia, but Don Law, Columbia's head of country Artist  and Repertoire, saw something in the song, and when he was in New York he ran into  Mitch Miller who was scouting songs for a Johnny Ray session. Ray recorded "Just Walking  In The Rain" on June 29, 1956 in his usual petulant style, and it provide to be his  commercial rebirth after a year or two in the wilderness.
 
Johnny Bragg claims to have had a premonition of Ray's recording, but he had no  premonition of the vast amount of money it would bring him. "The first cheque was for  $1400", recalls Bragg, "and I told the warden to go ahead and put the cheque in the  commissary so I could buy some candy and so on. I thought the amount was $14.00! The next  cheque was for $7500". Johnny Bragg received and invitation to the Annual BMI Awards  dinner in New York for December 3, 1956. The invitation specified that he could bring a  guest, who - had he gone - would probably have been an armed guard.
 
By this point, Johnny Bragg was far less keen to sell compositions. He successfully pitched  a few of his songs, including "Don't Bug Me Baby", recorded by Milton Allen for RCA in 1957  (and reissued on Bear Family BFX 15357). Ernie Young, owner of Ernie's record Mart and  Excello/Nashboro Records, signed the Marigolds and they cut four singles, including "Two  Stranger", first recorded by the Prisonaires at Sun. At roughly the same time, another  unissued Prisonaires song, "Don't Say Tomorrow" was cut by the Hollyhocks on Nasco  Records. Detail hounds may care to note that the Marigolds also cut an unreleased version  of the song.
 
Johnny Bragg was finally released from prison in 1959, and he started recording for Decca  Records in Nashville and writing for Tree Music. However, he was back behind bars again  the following year for robbery and attempted murder, charges that Bragg asserts were setup.  "A man whose name I can't say, said 'If that Bible totin' governor turns that nigger  loose, I'll get him back inside even if I have to frame him", said Bragg darkly. "They charged  me on three counts and finally got me on a charge of stealing $2.50 - and I had all kinds of money. It was pitiful". UPI reported that Johnny Bragg had indeed been indicted on  charges of stealing $2.50, but that he had done so at gunpoint, whereupon two other  white women identified him as the man who had tried to attack them. One of the charges  finally stuck, and Johnny Bragg went back inside in May 1960.
 
A few months later, the Elvis Presley connection had its final postscript. Bragg was visited by   Elvis Presley, who had just returned from West-Germany. "He asked repeatedly", said Bragg,   "Did I need a lawyer, was there anything he could do for me". Needing help so bad he could   taste it, Bragg nevertheless declined. "They said if I didn't take the case to the Supreme  Court, they'd get me out in nine months", asserted Brag, "but I didn't get out in nine months,  and that messed me up a little bit".
 
An article in the local press in Nashville reads:  ELVIS VISITS PRISON. En route home to   Memphis after Wednesday's visit to the State Legislature, singer-actor Elvis Presley   stopped for approximately 45 minutes at the State Prison.
 
He toured the various   workshops, dining hall, and death-house, and talked briefly with song-writer Johnny   Bragg, who is doing time for a parole violation. "It was Elvis' idea to drive by the  penitentiary", one of his traveling companions - buddy-guard - said. "He has known Bragg   from back when he was starting out as an entertainer; scrounging for a living". 
 
Upon his re-release seven years later, Johnny Bragg formed Elbejay Records in partnership   with Raymond Ligon and Cyril Jackson, and recorded three singles for them. By his   account, he forgave Red Wortham for cheating the Prisonaires out of publishing royalties   on "Just Walking In The Rain", and brought him in as Artist and Repertoire manager at   Elbejay Records.
 
Johnny Bragg's troubles didn't end upon his re-release, though. He was returned to prison   for shoplifting, and released on parole (for the third time) following the death of his wife,   leaving him a single parent. With his faith and his health still more-or-less, intact, though,   he has done better than the other members of the Prisonaires. They all died in varying   degrees of poverty or distress. The saddest case was that of William Steward who died of   alcohol poisoning in a cheap motel room in Florida. Only Robert Riley manager to eke a   more-or-less successful career in the music business. Before his death he became a   contracted writer at Three Music and cranked out country-soul songs for Nashville-based   labels such as Dial, Todd and Sound Stage Seven.
 
The Prisonaires gained their moment of fame as a novelty act, but, as his music proves   convincingly, their work transcends more novelty appeal. Johnny Bragg had a stilling lead   tenor that ranks alongside that of his idol, Bill Kenny of the Inkspots. The music they cut   for Sun Records was quite unlike anything else on the label - sophisticated and urbane,   largely lacking the raw edge that Sam Phillips cherished. Certainly, there were some   performances that missed the mark, but there's also "Just Walking In The Rain", a classic   by any criterion.
 
There is fierce pride in Johnny Bragg - evident in the way he spits out the world   "Penitentiary". There is also darkness within him, which he laid aside to produce some   hauntingly beautiful music.
JUNE 3, 1953 WEDNESDAY
 
Elvis' L.C. Humes High School commencement, a joyous moment for the Presley family  finally arrived. On that muggy Wednesday night, Elvis Presley anxiously entered the spacious  Ellis Auditorium's South Hall for the graduation ceremony.  In his subdued black tie and new  white shirt, Elvis Presley felt awkward as he walked into the hall with his classmates. As the  Class 202 members of the Humes class of 1953 marched forward to accept their diplomas,  there was an uncomfortable feeling in Elvis' stomach.
 
As Elvis Presley wandered into the Ellis Auditorium, he met George Klein, the Humes High  class president. They were both poor boys who were highly successful overachievers. Elvis Presley admired Klein's poise and self-assurance, and George Klein was smitten with Elvis'  musical talent.
 
The bubbly sense of anticipation that erupts during a High School graduation was evident  as each student shook principal T.C. Brindley's hand and received a diploma from the  superintendent of the Memphis Public Schools, E.C. Ball.
 
As Elvis Presley left on stage, he  turned to Billy Leaptrott, a classmate and photographer, and remarked: "I don't got it". It  was Elvis Presley's humorous way of suggesting that, despite his rural Southern  background, he was smarter than many people realized. Elvis Presley always took care to  use proper English, and his remark was a cutting reference to the strict class lines that  prevailed in Memphis society.
 
The Senior Glee Club sang a selection by Rachmaninoff and "Nocturne" by the Czech composer Zdenko Fibich,  and during the ceremony, Vernon and Gladys beamed from the audience. Elvis' aunt and uncle, Travis and  Lorraine Smith, sat next to Jeanette and Alfred Fruchter, and they all smiled as Elvis walked across the stage.  Many of Elvis' biographers have perpetuated the myth that Elvis didn't own a record player. Nothing was further  from the truth, according to Jeanette Fruchter, who told Vince Staten that she never loaned a record player to  Elvis Presley.
 
She indicated that the Presley's not only owned their own record player, but that Elvis Presley was  an avid collector of different types of music.  It is obvious from the Fruchter's observations that Elvis Presley  was already well on his way to pursuing a musical career.
- HUMES HIGH, CLASS OF 1953 –
COMMENTS FROM ELVIS' CLASSMATES
 
EDWIN LEEK - I started to Humes in the middle of the 12th grade, shortly before the  Christmas holidays. I wanted to graduate from Humes, because my father and mother had  graduated from there.  My father was a doctor and I had been an Army brat for part of my life  due to my father’s service in World War II and beyond. I had attended 16 schools before  Humes; so coming to a new school didn’t bother me much.
 
I am sorry that I was not around  long enough to get to know more of my classmates, but I did find some new friends.  My closest friends were Elvis Presley, Albert Teague, Bill Clenney and Charles Manspeaker. I  enjoyed my time there and the friends I made.
 
After I graduated, I attended Memphis State and UT to take my pre-med courses. Although  becoming a doctor was my parents and grandparents idea, it was not mine. As soon as I  had enough chemistry to get a job, I went to work at a coated fabric place and put my first  paycheck down on a small airplane in West Memphis, Arkansas. I eventually earned the  necessary ratings and achieved a position with a scheduled airline as a First Officer. I made Captain 5 years later flying out of Chicago with Ozark Airlines, which later merged into  TWA and finally, American.
 
I retired early in 1988, as I did not like the merger treatments. Thirty years and 24,000  hours flying commercial airplanes should be sufficient for a lifetime. Since retirement, I  have been showing my wife of 47 years the world, having taken her to 71 countries and all 7 continents, so far. (Free or highly discounted air travel sure helps.) We lived in Key Largo,  Florida for 33 years (I commuted to Chicago and St. Louis when I was flying). During the past  few months we have put the Key Largo house up for sale and moved 200 miles into the middle of the state between Sarasota and Vero Beach to get farther away from the threat of  possible hurricanes. We have been in the eyes of 3 hurricanes since that time! The Keys got  very little damage from any of the storms, so I suppose one just can’t win sometimes. We  also have a winter home in the mountains of Costa Rica that may be sold soon, as travel is  not so much fun any more with the new restrictions at airports (unless you wish to travel  nude and without luggage).
 
My Elvis Stories: I gave Elvis $4.00 to make his first dub at Sam Phillip’s Sun Records. It  took him two months to get up the courage to do it. My idea was to make the record and  knock on radio station doors to get it played and hopefully find him a singing job. Elvis was  very unsure of himself in the early days of his career. I had a good time traveling, double  dating, etc. with him until he went into the Army. He would call me to ''round up'' the  bunch (about 16 total) to come to where ever he was to perform. He was afraid there  wouldn’t be anyone there if we didn’t come.
 
He is still the only singer I listen to. I own the original dub along with the music rights to it.  I have allowed RCA and Disney to publish the music mainly so the fans can hear the two  songs, which I felt, were very good. The record has all the elements that later developed  into his personal style. I also still have the first commercial disk out of the labeling  machine at Plastic Products on Chelsea Avenue. (That’s All Right and Blue Moon), which  Elvis signed for me after I pulled it out of the collection box. I sold my Humes year book;  my class photo and the little pink business card Elvis gave me ( to get backstage after he  began famous) some years back for unbelievable prices. I figured they would be well cared  for by Elvis collectors. I am considering letting the commercial record and perhaps the  'dub find new homes soon. I am 70 years old and have no family except my wife to give  them to. I have enjoyed them for over 50 years, along with my memories of Elvis.
 
Edwin Leek, October 7, 2004
 
BETTY DIEPHOLZ-LOVELESS: ''I was President of the History Club in Miss Scrivener's 12th  grade class. She assigned me the task of getting Elvis to sing at our class party at Overton  Park. He did and we all enjoyed the party and the singing. A few of us, including Elvis, climbed into L.D. Ledbetter's car and went downtown to enjoy the Cotton Carnival. We  rode the rides and hung out on the steps of the downtown library to listen to Elvis sing  again. This attracted a crowd - the police came along and dispersed the crowd and we  went home. Later, when we were signing yearbooks, we laughed about that night. Elvis  wrote in my book 'Remember Me - Elvis'. Ironic that we all remember Elvis''.
 
WILIAM LARRY CURLE: ''During his senior year Larry and I had Miss Moss' 5th period  American Problems class together with Elvis Presley. One day Miss Moss got so fed up with  Larry and me she told us to take the rest of the day off and go to the athletic room. She allowed Elvis to tag along''. ''The three of us went riding in Larry's red 1940 Studebaker  that didn't have a reverse gear. During our ride around town, we went somewhere to get  Elvis' guitar; he sat in the backseat playing and singing. Larry and I were both impressed  with his songs, although I was more impressed, I think. Larry was also a talented singer.  We talked about the upcoming talent show where Larry and I were appearing with several  boys doing gymnastic things. Elvis said, 'I'll warm them up for you''. ''When that night  came, he did warm them up! After a couple of his scheduled songs, the audience response  demanded he sit on the apron and sing a few more. The show really finished when Elvis  did, but we went on and performed our act without much distinction''.
 
DWIGHT MALONE: ''Elvis was different. Most boys had crew cuts and wore tee shirts and  blue jeans. Elvis would appear at school in a pink jacket and yellow pants and a duck tail  haircut. He was quiet, very courteous and largely stayed to himself. I did play touch  football with him on the triangle at Lauderdale Courts. He was not fast, but he had very  quick movements. He had those swivel hips even then. When he caught the ball, he was  difficult to tag. He could swivel out of reach in a moment. To tag him, a player had to grab  him and hold on until he could apply the tag''.
 
ELVIS and WARREN GREGORY were close friends. Warren was musically gifted. He could  play a piano beautifully, the guitar, the trumpet and any other available instrument. He  never took a lesson. He could play any tune he heard and improvise the melody. During the summer months Elvis and Warren would sit on the street curb, strumming their guitars  and singing country songs. Frankly, in their early attempts, they were not that good. I  think they had a few shoes thrown at them by the neighbors. ''It was at the Humes Talent Show in April, 1953 that I realized that Elvis could really sing. I remember our barbershop  quartet singing. I remember Gloria Trout, a gorgeous little blond dancer who was also a  cheerleader. But mostly, I remember Elvis. There were no swivel hips. His props were a  chair, a guitar and a loud costume. He put one foot on the chair, strummed the guitar and  sang his heart out. To me, that was when rock and roll was born. The ovation was  thunderous and long''.
 
RACHAEL MADDOX VAN WAGGONER: ''Glee Club was a favorite class because I truly enjoyed  singing. In April, 1953, I sang Because of You' at the annual talent show. I heard Elvis play  his guitar and sing and was surprised by how much talent he had. I think his performance  was the reason I asked him to sign my yearbook''.
 
BETTY JEAN MOORE-MUNSON: ''Whenever Elvis Presley walked by we would look at each  other and laugh and giggle. (We both had a crush on him.) One day he walked up to  Dorothy and asked her why we laughed when he walked by. She was so dumbfounded that  she blurted out 'It's because we think you are so good-looking'. I guess he was surprised  also; he just broke into a grin and walked away. I was just sitting there with the reddest  face that a girl could ever have. Whenever I'm embarrassed, I blush so badly that I feel as  though my face will ignite. My face didn't ignite but from then on whenever I would see  Elvis coming down the hall, I would stick my face into a book and not look up''. ''Elvis and I  were in Miss Alexander's homeroom in the 11th grade. She taught music, so the classroom  was a music room. She divided our class into an 'L' shape with boys on one side and girls  on the other side. Elvis sat in the front row next to a guy sporting a Mohawk haircut. I sat  in the second row of girls so I could see him very well and I often stared at him because  there was something about him that I really liked. He didn't dress or act like the rest of  the boys. He always had a lock of hair hanging to the side of his face''. ''He had a serious  expression most of the time during the beginning of the school year. But, later in the year,  he surprised us by playing his guitar before school several mornings. He didn't sing; he just  played. He was accompanied on the grand piano by another student, Warren Gregory. We  really enjoyed the impromptu jam sessions, but we kept our eyes peeled for Miss  Alexander because we weren't real sure how she would react to our choice of music. We  never found out because she never showed up while they were playing''. ''Elvis was very  polite and respectful to all the teachers. He always addressed them as 'Ma am' and 'Sir. He  Seemed very shy and I identified with him since I was shy, too. It was a very special year  for me. I remember him driving a maroon convertible; I believe it was a Lincoln.  Sometimes he wore dark colored pants with a stripe down the sides. I found out later that  they were part of his movie usher uniform''.
 
ROSE HOWELL KLIMEK: ''After church on Sunday night, my friends and I liked to go to  Leonard's Barbeque on Bellevue and then to East Trigg Baptist Church to listen to the  spirituals. The church had a special section for white visitors. Elvis was often there and  occasionally sang with the choir. I loved to watch the people who got the spirit dance and  roll in the aisles. I guess that's where the term 'holy rollers' came from''.
 
BILL LEAPTROTT - Classmate and friend of Elvis Presley at L.C. Humes High School in  Memphis. He and Elvis Presley were members of Class 202, the graduating glass of 1953.  Leaptrott, a photographer for the Press-Scimitar, accompanied Elvis Presley after his  discharge from the Army. He wrote the article "A Kid From The Northside", which appears  in 1987 book "Elvis In Private". 
 
"When we graduated from Humes High School in 1953, we were a bunch of kids from the  northside, without very aspirations. Few of use were thinking of going to college. We  didn't have the money", recalls William Leaptrott.
 
"That went for Elvis Presley, too. Elvis  was a member of my graduating class, and I remember him from the time he first came to  Memphis from Tupelo, Mississippi. He was in my class all through high school. 
 
Elvis was different. I remember him as a kid who had long hair with duck tails, when  everybody else was wearing a flat top. He had two pairs of pants that I can remember - one  pair was black with a white stripe down the side, and the other pair was black with a pink  stripe. They were gaberdine. The rest of the kids were wearing Levis.
 
He wasn't in any crowd. I guess you would say he was a loner. He was very low key and  took no part in school activities. I can't even remember him being at a prom. I don't think I  had a class with him, but, like everybody else, he was in ROTC, and he played touch football.
 
Even then, Elvis showed a propensity for luxury cars. He drove an old Lincoln coupe, a  1940 or 1941 model. And he sang and played the guitar, pure country stuff, in our male  beauty show. None of it turned any of us on.
 
I remember graduation night. When Elvis came off the stage with his diploma in his hand, he  says: 'I done got it'. Elvis always called me 'Billy'. And throughout the years of his stardom,  he never forgot our school days and gave me news breaks that other photographers couldn't.
 
It was a little surprising, because I didn't have all that much contact with him in school.  The most we were together was in the afternoons after I delivered The Press-Scimitar to  his home in the Lauderdale Courts housing complex.
 
I lived on Overton, and after I threw the paper at Lauderdale, we used to play football. He  was tough. Long after he became a star, he kept playing touch ball.
 
It was while I was at summer at UCLA in 1954, between my freshman and sophomore years  at Memphis State University, that I first learned of Elvis' success. When I phoned home, I  was told Elvis had just cut his first Sun record, with his famous songs, "That's All Right", and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky".
 
We were in a graduating class of 202. I thought at first Elvis was the third in our class to die.  I remember one was killed in a plane crash in New Orleans and one was murdered. The  records show today, though, that Elvis was the seventh in our class to die", recalled William Leaptrott.
JUNE 4, 1953 THURSDAY
 
The morning after graduation, Elvis Presley trekked down to the state-run Tennessee  Employment Security Office, located at 122 Union Avenue, filled out his application for work  and sat waiting for an interview and evaluation. That Thursday morning was the day that  Elvis Presley reported to work at the M.B. Parker Machinist Company owned by M.B. Parker.
 
The first sign of dissatisfaction with the Parker Company occurred when Elvis Presley  reported to David Parker, the boss' son, and complained about being assigned to an eightman  crew stripping nail kegs from equipment about to be reconditioned.
 
The tedious work  bothered Elvis Presley, so he talked at length about his show business aspirations. The  withholding statement when Elvis worked for M.B. Parker is 3 1/4x7 inches.  "A job. Any job. I just want to work", Elvis Presley told the interviewer. 
 
That same  afternoon, M.B. Parker stopped by Tennessee Employment to see if maybe he could find a  helper for his shop. Parker's small company, in the nearby Thomas-Chelsea area (which  later would house American Sound Studio), paired small engines. It was dirty work. greasy  work. But it was steady work and it handed out paychecks every other Saturday. "Mr.  Parker", the interviewer said, "I had a young man come in here this morning you might  want to talk to. He was nice and clean. Very polite. said 'yes sir' and 'no sir'. Just  graduated last night from Humes". "He sounds okay", Parker said. Send him to see me".  "Well, now, Mr. Parker", the interviewer fudged, "you might not like him when you see  him". "Why not?". "Because he's got long sideburns". "Well, send him around anyhow".
 
And a day or so later, Elvis Presley began learning to repair small engines for M.B. Parker.  It really was dirty work, but Elvis was very much looking forward to that first paycheck  because he had plans for some of the money he had earned. Big plans.
 
M.B. PARKER COMPANY - Located at 1449 Thomas Street, Memphis, Tennessee, the work was  tedious at M.B. Parker, where Elvis Presley worked during the summer of 1953. Nothing  more than standing on an assembly like taking the heads off flame-throw regulators,  replacing the "O" rings, and putting the heads back on. It wasn't particularly laborious work,  but the shop was sweltering during the summer.
 
It was a small company with an open-door policy. Before work one morning, more than a  month after Elvis Presley joined the company, he paid a visit to his supervisor Mr. Parker.  Elvis was visibly upset, and he said that without an advance on his wages he wouldn't be  able to make his payment on the Lincoln, and it would be repossessed. Mr. Parker  explained that it was against company policy to make such a loan, but Elvis Presley was so  near tears that Mr. Parker agreed to write a personal check for thirty-three dollars. two  days later, Elvis promptly turned his paycheck over to Mr. Parker to repay the loan.
 
UNKNOWN DATE SUMMER 1953
 
During the six months after graduating from Humes High School, Elvis Presley would  cultivate an extensive knowledge of urban Memphis blues. His acquaintance with rural  Mississippi blues was already quite strong. There was a special feeling in blues records that excited Elvis Presley. It was the blues that inspired Elvis to alter his country and western and  pop stylings, and craft his music more towards a distinct rockabilly sound.
 
Elvis Presley began performing by Memphis blues artists like Rosco Gordon, B.B. King, and  Little Junior Parker, developing himself into a white blues singer with rockabilly  overtones. By that time, Elvis had mastered the Memphis sound, and the influence of local  musicians like Eddie Bond, Marcus Van Story, Kenneth Herman, and Ronald Smith would be  evident.
 
UNKNOWN DATE SUMMER 1953
 
Elvis Presley dropped in the Old Red's on Third Street in Memphis to play for a crowd of  boisterous beer drinkers. "We would play for a couple hours and they would pass the hat",  Kenneth Herman remarked. The band included Gerald Ferguson on bass, Kenneth Herman on  steel guitar, and Ronald Smith on lead guitar. Sometimes there was a drummer, other times  the band played without drums. Elvis Presley sang country music tunes.
 
SUMMER 1953
 
It was Charlie Feathers' constant talk about hit records that prompted Elvis Presley to  consider going into Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Service for a recording session. After  hangout in the Beale Street nightclubs and the hillbilly bars around Memphis, Elvis Presley  was excited about making a recording.
 
"It wasn't a problem on Beale Street", recalled Scotty Moore, "as far as black and white and  violence was concerned... Everything was segregated back then and if you were seen in one  of those clubs down there then you might get talked about. I don't know - it's possible Elvis  went down there. Bill and I were married and had families to look after, so we weren't out  running around with him all the time. He had friends he hung around with them. He may  well have gone down there, but I can't remember him mentioning it to us if he did".
 
Elvis Presley frequented at VFW Hall, one of the seedier clip-joints, in Hernando,  Mississippi. Elvis offered to entertain three nights for free. The manager introduced Elvis,  and he stepped up on the tiny stage accompanied by only his guitar. Elvis was dressed in  green pants, checkered jacket, pink shirt, sang a selections of current hits on the country  charts, and his performance was a complete bust. Midway through the first song, a few  people laughed. During the second song, some hecklers joined in. By the third song, Elvis  voice tightened up, choked by his humiliation. He stopped altogether after an empty  bottle was thrown in his general direction, followed by a littering of wadded-up paper  cups. He got off the stage and walked straight out the back door, shutting out the laughter  behind him. "I found him sitting in his car, propped against the door, tears wetting his face.  He looked away as I climbed in the car", says Earl Greenwood, one of his cousins. "Jesus,  Earl... I can't believe what jus' happen. They didn't even give me a change", says Elvis.  "You were just nervous. It happens to everybody", recalled Greenwood. And Elvis said,  "Not like that it doesn't, Earl, I thought I felt okay goin' up, but then I jus' felt ever'thin  fallin' away from me. I couldn't even remember the words. No wonder they threw things. I  was terrible. I wanna be swallowed up. How can I ever go back in there and face those  people again? They hated me". "They didn't like your performance, it's got nothing to do  with you as a person. Most of them don't even know you", says Greenwood. "Early, they  tried to shut me up by throwin' a bottle at me. I coulda been killed. I don' know why I keep  kiddin' myself that I can be a singer. I ain't foolin' anyone but me", said Elvis. "You're giving  up because of one bad night". "I heard everythin' they said. They called me a freak. It's  bad 'nough you saw it - what if I'd brought Mom" It've killed her. "But Elvis", said Earl  Greenwood, "you weren't yourself up there tonight. You were trying too hard to sound like  the radio instead of just being you. If you'd relax-". "Don't tell me how t'sing. You don'  know the first thing about it", Elvis shot back angrily. "It wasn't just the singin' they didn't  like, it was me". He tossed his guitar in the back seat. "Don't matter. I'm the ignorant one.  This was a stupid idea from the start. Instead of wastin' my time here I should be doin'  somethin' worthwide". Without a word, Elvis Presley started the car and screeched away  from Hernando's, the car fishtailing on the slick streets, the ride home ominously silent.  "When I got out of the car, Elvis didn't look at me or say a word, his face an unreadable  stone wall", recalled Earl Greenwood.
 
The following night, Elvis Presley showed up to Earl Greenwoods house and asked him to  go to Hernando's. "I have a date with Karen", say Earl. "Can't you be a little late for it? Or  maybe you can both come". "I don' know I want to take her to that place, it's a little  rough". "I tought you were quittin'".
 
Elvis was tense like never before, expecting to see more beer bottles flying through the  air to him. He stood off to the side of the stage, taking deep breaths to calm himself. After  his introductions, he got up on stage, fixed his eyes at the rear of the room and started  singing. The songs were the same, but this time he sang them in the style that came  naturally to him, in a strong, melodious voice. Nobody paid much attention one way or  another - no bottles, no hecklers, but no applause, either. Tonight, Elvis Presley was just  background noise.
 
When his set was done, he bounded off the stage, his face flushed with a sense of  accomplishment. It wasn't a performance of the ages, but it was okay. And it gave Elvis  enough to keep his dream alive. From that night on, he pursued singing with new-found  vogor. Coming so close to losing it had done the trick.
 
Elvis Presley searched out every amateur night or honky-tonk looking for free talent in the  greater Memphis area. He never had a regular set, just whatever was popular on the radio at  the moment. He might hear something on the radio while driving to a club, be totally  unprepared but try to sing it anyway, even if he only knew half the words, just because it  was a hit song.
 
Some nights were good, many were bad. He took audience apathy or jeering personally.  What he did was synonymous with who he was, so he construed any criticism of his singing  as a personal rejection and it made him angry. And more determined. "I'll show 'em. One  day tey'll see", he say whenever an audience gave him a cool reception.
 
EARL GREENWOOD - A second cousin to Elvis Presley, was with Elvis Presley in a personal and  professional capacity - serving as his press agent for a time- throughout Presley's career.  Earls grandfather, Tom Greenwood, married Elvis' aunt, Dixie Presley, and making him  second cousins. He was two years younger, but the age difference was of little concern, and  he grew up the best of friends and as close as brothers.
 
Several years later, as Elvis Presley and Earl Greenwood approached the teens, the families  moved to Memphis within months of one another. After Elvis Presley became famous, Earl  Greenwood felt into the role of his press agent, partly because Earl was capable but mostly  because he felt most comfortable having family around him. Earl was in the unique, and  what he admit occasionally considered cursed, position of being family, friend, confidant,  and business associate all wrapped up in one. Earl Greenwood lives in Los Angeles today.
 
JULY 3, 1953 FRIDAY
 
Elvis went to the Tennessee Employment Security office once again, trying to get himself  another job. The job pays $.90 per hour, $36 per week. Elvis went to work for M.B. Parker as an assembler until  July 29, when the job runs out, but Elvis was fixated on the idea of recording a $3.98 ten-inch master, but was having real problems working up the courage to take the plunge. He was too shy to tell anyone, so he decided to secretly make a personal recording. To pay for his own record session, Elvis went to his boss, M.B. Parker, Sr. and inquired about a salary advance to buy a car (actually Elvis' parents had recently purchased him the Lincoln). In reality, the money Elvis asked for was to be used for a demonstration record to impress Sam Phillips. The many hours that Elvis had spent at Taylor's Cafe, next to Sun Records, encouraged young Presley to cut his own record. Charlie Feathers and a number of other rockabilly artists shopped crudely recorded songs among the small labels and talent scouts that frequently Memphis, and talked about how they were going to make a hit record. Eddie Bond frequently dropped in and talked about his record. Marcus Van Story was always hanging around the studio. Doug Poindexter and the Starlite Wranglers encouraged Elvis to make his own record. Other people he knew, Stan Kesler, who played on a number of vanity records, and Smokey Joe Baugh, whose piano was evident on some Sun sessions, were doing it, so why shouldn't Elvis made a record?
 
JULY 1953
 
Sam Phillips' brother Jud joins Sun Records to help with promotion and sales as "Bear Cat" by  Rufus Thomas becomes Sun's first hit in the blues market. Through the summer of 1953, Sun  also hits with Little Junior Parker and the Prisonaires.
 
Phillips makes his first recordings by a white group for the Sun label. The Ripley Cotton Choppers,  who had appeared on Memphis radio for several years.
 
JULY 12, 1953 FRIDAY
 
M.B. Parker rolled a cigar in his clenched teeth and listened to an impassioned plea from  Elvis Presley, who wanted his paycheck early. Elvis was a good employee and Parker saw no reason to deny the request. Parker wrote out a thirty-three dollar check  and Elvis Presley ran across the street to a liquor store to cash it. He took twenty dollars home to Gladys, and set the remainder aside for the record. During the next three days, Elvis spent a great deal of time in the bathroom practicing his vocal skills. Since Elvis hated bathing, Vernon and Gladys were more than curious about such long, sequestered spells in the privy.
 
Despite the practice, and  having the money all set aside for a session, Elvis Presley still couldn't work up the courage  to make a recording just then. His confidence simply hadn't reached the point where he was willing to test the water. Instead,  Elvis continued listen to songs that he might record. He  listening intently to the Pied Pipers 1948 hit "My Happiness", and when he was tired of it,  he'd play the Ink Spots' "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" on the family Victrola recordplayer.  Vernon loved the Ink Spots and he spent hours talking about their music.  There is no evidence that Elvis Presley listened to or was influenced by country  singer Bob Lamb's version of "My Happiness". 
 
"Elvis wanted to cut a record real bad", Ronald Smith recalled, "and he asked us a lot of  questions about music". "The Ink Spots were one of Elvis' favorite acts", recalled Humes  High girlfriend Susan Johnson, "I couldn't figure out why for the life of me".
 
JULY 17, 1953 FRIDAY
 
Vernon, Gladys and Elvis Presley spent the evening talking about the family's success. Elvis  was happy because he was employed full-time. Gladys talked at length about her son's  singing ability, and they all laughed into the night. Elvis Presley decided that very night to finally make a record to surprise his parents, quietly vowing to sing the to songs he had been  practicing for so long.
 
Elvis and his friends were so consumed with the music that they couldn't think of anything else. ''Elvis wanted to cut a record real bad, ''Ronald Smith recalled, ''and he asked us a lot of questions about music''. 
JULY 18, 1953 SATURDAY
 
Elvis Presley stopped by the Memphis Recording Service on 706 Union Avenue, a small  concern owned and operated by Sam Phillips. During the visit, Elvis Presley made a twosided  10-inch demonstration acetate of his singing while he accompanied himself on guitar. A close friend from Humes High School was also instrumental in Presley's decision to cut the  record. "I had been trying to persuade Elvis Presley for quite some time to try his hand at  making a record", Ed Leek recalled.
 
"After all, he was always going around singing". The record had nothing at all to do with  Gladys' birthday, as some chroniclers have claimed, as that had already passed on April 25,  but in hopes someone in the studio would discover him and give him a shot at recording commercially.
 
Its always been a common belief that the young Elvis Presley worked as electrician for the  Crown Electric Company this time. It was the late Marion Keisker, who noticed that Elvis'  tatty overalls were covered in oil, unusual for an electrician! Recently discovered documents from a small machinist's shop MB Parker which proved Marion Keisker right.  Elvis Presley worked for the company fixing small engines -mostly mowers- from June to  September when he found a higher paid job later in April 1954 at Crown Electric on  475 North Dunlap.
 
"This boy was no stranger to me", said Marion Keisker. "I had seen him walking up and  down the sidewalk outside the studio several times, as if trying to get up enough nerve to  walk in. This time he walked in".
 
THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE (SUN STUDIO) - Operated under three mottoes "We  record anything-anywhere-anytime", "A complete service to fill every recording need", and  "Combining the newest and best equipment with the latest and finest sonocoustic studio".  Venetian blinds made it impossible to see through the plate glass window from the outside,  but when you walked in the door into a shallow reception area that had been partitioned  off from the studio directly behind it, you saw a blond woman of thirty-five, or thirty-six  behind a desk wedged into the far left corner of the room. Out of this little storefront at  706 Union Avenue and Marshall, came music that would change the world.
 
Sam Phillips was also moderately successful in finding and recording Memphis blues  musicians, including Rosco Gordon, Johnny Ace, Bobby "Blue" Bland, and B.B. King.  In the  early 1950s, the resulting songs were initially leased to record companies in Chicago  (Chess) and Los Angeles (R.P.M.). 
 
By 1953, Sam Phillips had founded his own label, Sun  Records. That same year, Sun was enjoying success with two national hits, "Bear Cat" by  Rufus Thomas and "Feelin' Good" by Little Junior's Blue Flames, featuring Herman "Junior"  Parker.
 
In all, Sam Phillips only released ten songs performed by Elvis Presley on his Sun label. By  then Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash had already recorded for Sam. Jerry Lee Lewis, Warren  Smith, Roy Orbison, Billy Lee Riley, and Charlie Rich followed. All of them recorded hit  songs that defined rock and roll. Soon, all these artists also would leave Sam Phillips for  other recordings deals. Sam Phillips produced hit songs for less than ten years. But his  place in history is secure.
 
"I opened the Memphis Recording Services", recalls Sam Phillips, "with the intention of  recording singers and musicians from Memphis and the locality who I felt had something  that people should be able to hear. I'm talking about blues - both the country style and the rhythm style - and also about gospel or spiritual music had not been given the opportunity  to reach an audience. I feel strongly that a lot of the blues was a real true story.  Unadulterated life as it was. My aim was to try and record the blues and other music I  liked and to prove whether I was right or wrong about this music. I knew, or I felt I knew,  that there was a bigger audience for blues than just the black man of the mid-South.  There were city markets to be reached, and I knew that whites listened to blues  surreptitiously. With the jet age coming on, with cotton-picking machines as big as a  building going down the road, with society changing, I knew that this music wasn't going to  be available in a pure sense forever".
 
Today Sun Studio is open for tours. Visitors assemble in the cafe and then are led into the  recording room. The tour itself is an audio presentation of the Sun Records story amidst  some of the original recording equipment and musical instruments. Above the cafe is an exhibit gallery of photographs and artifacts. Sun Studio also offers recording services in a  room off limits to the tours.
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
 
DEMO RECORDING FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
AT  THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE 1953
 
SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
PRIVATE RECORDING - SATURDAY JULY 18, 1953
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - PROBABLY MARION KEISKER
 
According to the 'Memphis Recording Service Volume 1' the date of this demo session is August 22 1953.
 
Elvis Presley walked into the Memphis Recording Service to record a four-dollar acetate. Elvis knew he had a good voice, and he was hoping to be discovered by Sam Phillips. Phillips was not in that day, but Marion Keisker was. The first song that Elvis Presley recorded at the Memphis Recording Service was "My Happiness". The second number was "That's When Your Heartaches Begin".  Marion Keisker remembered Elvis Presley walking in dressed in dirty coveralls and with grease under his fingernails. "I never believed that story about his being a truck driver", Keisker would say six weeks before her death on December 29, 1989. "Truck drivers don't have grease under their fingernails". Then came that famous first conversation:
 
 "What kind of singer are you".
"I song all kinds".
"Who do you sound like?".
"I don't sound like nobody".
"Hillbilly?".
"Yeah, I sing hillbilly".
Who do you sound like in hillbilly?".
"I don't sound like nobody".
 
"My Happiness"/"That's When Your Heartaches Begin" were lathe-recorded directly onto a ten-inch aluminum acetate disc. Soon after recording the demo, Elvis took it over to the East Jackson Avenue in Memphis, home of Ed Leek and his grandmother to play it for them. He left the demo with Leek and never asked for it back.
 
The acetate of "My Happiness"/"That's When Your Heartaches Begin" surfaced in 1988. It was found in the possession of Edwin S. Leek Jr., a classmate of Elvis at Humes High School. Leek says that it was he who urged Elvis to walk into the Memphis Recording Service to make the demo in July 1953.
 
Marion Keisker took the four dollars from Elvis Presley, then asked Sam Phillips if he wanted to record the young man, or did he want her to record him. "Sam snapped at me, 'Can't you see I'm bust. You do it", Marion Keisker would relate just before her death. "I had tears well up in my eyes. I almost cried. But that wasn't like Sam. He must have had something else bothering him at the time".
 
Marion took Elvis inside the tiny studio, turned on the machine, and Elvis Presley began recording "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin". Impressed with what she was hearing, Keisker flipped on the Ampex tape recorder while Elvis was singing. Later, she would ask him for his name and address, putting it away in the files on her desk. "To make sure I remembered which one he was, I wrote 'Timothy Sideburns' on the paper", she recalled.
 
Sam Phillips insists it was he, not Marion, who recorded that first disc. "The truth of the matter is that I made the demo record of "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin". I made the little record. He came in with his guitar; Marion was in front and I was in the control room". As further proof, he says that "I wouldn’t take anything away from Marion; I never had a better friend in my life. But Marion didn't know how to make an acetate record and she didn't try to".
 
01 - "MY HAPPINESS" - A.S.C.A.P. - 2:32
Composer: - Betty Peterson-Borney Bergantine - Written in 1933
Publisher: - Chappell Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - WPA5-2531 - 10 Inch Acetate- Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 18, 1953
Released: - August 1990
First appearance: - RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm PD 82227-1-1 mono
THE GREAT PERFORMANCES
Reissued: - 1999 RCA BMG Music (CD) 500/200rpm 0786367675-1-1 mono
SUNRISE
 
"My Happiness" had been a pop record, a country record, and a jazz record before Elvis got to it; his version was sung as a kind of half-confident plaint.
02 - "THAT'S WHEN YOUR HEARTACHES BEGIN" - A.S.C.A.P. - 2:46
Composer: - William J. Raskin-Billy Hill-Fred Fisher - Written in 1940
Publisher: - Fisher Music Corporation
Matrix number: - WPA5-2532 - 10 Inch Acetate - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - July 18, 1953
Released: - June 1992
First appearance: - RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm PD 90689(5)-5-1 mono
THE COMPLETE 50'S MASTERS
Reissued: 1999 RCA BMG Music (CD) 500/200rpm 0786367675-2-2 mono
SUNRISE
 
"That's When Your Heartaches Begin" ends (with the words "that's the end") just after what would normally have been a midsong recitation, although its not clear whether this was intentional. This song was filled with aspiration. If he had hoped for instant recognition, of for Sam Phillips to come out of the control booth to talk to him, he was sadly disappointed. Marion Keisker duly noted his name and number, but weeks and months went by and Elvis heard nothing.
 
After Elvis Presley cut the $3.98 ten-inch acetate of "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin", Elvis sat in the outer lobby while Marion Keisker typed out the label copy on the blank sides of a Prisonaires label "Softly And Tenderly", SUN 189 release. The Prisonaires record was a 1953  release and, as Stanley Kesler remembered, "it was common to take any label and put it on one of the "amateur records". The words "Elvis Presley" were written underneath the title on each side, and Elvis Presley took it with him when he left Sam Phillips' recording service.
 
"The guy that's got that thing, he came up here and when I first heard it NBC called me", recalled Sam Phillips, "and wanted me to review it on video tape that they had sent up here to their channel. I went down to accommodate them 'cause I knew some people at NBC and it didn't sound like him on the tape, so I told 'em that I was pretty sure that it was not the original acetate. But I said, 'Hey! I would not know unless I heard the record in person and make sure the speed's right', because that would be very important as there's so many imitators of Elvis that, I mean, close your eyes".
 
"So the guy brought the record up here and I listened to it and it really, in my belief, it definitely is it. I told him, I said, 'I know how many lines per inch that I cut on that acetate'. This is the thing that Marion Keisker said that she recorded, made a tape of and all that stuff, which is totally incorrect. It would be fine with me if she had, but it just didn't happen that way. I know how many lines per inch... it was 96 lines per inch that I was usin' and you went from that to 112, to 120, 130, 136 and that was the most lines per inch you could cut". "I told this guy, Ed Leek, that I would not say 100% until I analyzed the grooves. I told him, 'I really believe that it is now that I have been it in person'. I know what type of disc I putt it on, the brand name and the type of acetate coding it had on it and it was definitely aluminium and not glass-based, and this sort of thing. But anyway, he got back to me and I told him that I would not authenticate it at all unless I was certain in my own mind and I won't sign anything saying for sure. I would have to study this thing. I knew the type of cutting needle I used at that time. I knew my spiral-in, my spiral-out and that would just take some time and I haven't had a chance to do all that yet".
 
"Until I do, I'm not gonna say that its authentic. I believe that it is but I would no more say that it is unless I know, I mean with dead moral certainly. I know this, there wasn't a dub made of this record. It was not on tape, it was made directly onto the acetate. At that time there was no place in town that you could go and make a dub; I was the only place in town that you could go and make a dub. People will go to unbelievable lengths now, man to come up with somethin' they think they can get rich off so. I hope that it is. Boy, that's be a coup!", said Sam Phillips.
 
On October 10, 1988, Marion Keisker signed an affidavit of authenticity stating that she believed the acetate owned by Ed Leek was Elvis' very first recording. In April 1989, Leek signed for 500,000 dollars, a 50/50 partnership agreement with Sun Entertainment Corporation to release the recording to the public, but he retains sole ownership of the disc. Engineer Allen Stoker mastered the disc to tape at the Country Music Foundation on September 14 and 15, 1989 in Nashville. The sound was cleaned up, but nothing else was added.
 
At the time of this writing, plans are to release "My Happiness"/"That's When Your Heartaches Begin" on the soundtrack of a two-video package, "Elvis' Greatest Hits, Volume 1 and 2", a joint venture of Disney's Touchstone Films and RCA. Still photos of Elvis and his mother, Gladys, will be seen during the audio. Compact discs of the soundtrack are planned for release at the same time by RCA. 
 
Ed Leek died on June 4, 2010, and his wife passed away in the summer of 2014. According to friend Maurice Golgan, Ed Leek had been valiantly fighting cancer for two years but recently was feeling more positive and cheerful. Ed Leek became a successful airline pilot Captain for TWA and American Airlines. The record was passed on to Leek's niece, Lorisa Hilburn, who consigned the acetate to the Graceland action on January 8, 2015. The disk sold for $240,000 and was won by an online bidder who ''wishes to remain anonymous'' according to the Elvis Presley Enterprises officials. With action house commissions and other fees, the purchase will cost the buyer close to $300,000 total.
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar (Martin Dreadnought 18)
Only one copy, i.e. no tape left at the Sun studio
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©
ELVIS ARON PRESLEY - (1935-1977) Nicknamed as "The King Of Rock And Roll", Elvis Presley   is probably the most famous singer and entertainer of the 20th century. Born at 4:35 a.m. on  January 8, 1935 (Astrological sign of Elvis is Capricorn) in East Tupelo, Mississippi, the son of   Vernon Elvis and Gladys Love Smith Presley, and reared in Memphis in near poverty, he  became an international celebrity and one of the wealthiest entertainers in history. Elvis'  twin brother, Jesse Garon, was stillborn and buried in an unmarked grave in the Priceville  Cemetery the next day.
 
In his early childhood, Elvis Presley loved to sing the gospel songs that were sung in the First   Assembly of God Church just one block from his family's home. Elvis attended the church   with his parents, who also enjoyed joining in on the musical praises.
 
While in the fifth grade at Lawhon Elementary School, Elvis' teacher, Mrs. J.C. Oleta Grimes,   discovered that Elvis had an unusual singing talent when he extemporaneously sang "Old  Shep" in class one day. 
 
Grimes informed the school's principal, J.D. Cole, of Elvis' talent and,   on October 3, 1945, he entered Elvis Presley in the annual talent contest at the Mississippi-  Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. The talent contest was sponsored and broadcast live by Tupelo   radio station WELO. Singing "Old Shep", Elvis Presley did not win second place, five dollars.   Nubin Payne actually won second price that year, she still has her trophy.
 
On Elvis' birthday on January 8, 1946, he received his first guitar - a $7.75 model purchased   by his mother at the Tupelo Hardware Store. According to the proprietor, Forrest L. Bobo,   Elvis wanted a rifle and raised quite a ruckus in the store when it became evident that  Gladys was not about to buy him the gun.
 
Elvis Presley was influenced by many country, gospel, and blues artists from his area, who lived adjacent to the African American neighborhoods of ''Shage Rag'' and ''On the Hill'' location next to the railway tracks, and according to musicians who have stated that Elvis Presley may have been especially swayed by the music of ''Tee-Toc'' or Lonnie Williams,  and in   the summer of 1948 the Presley's moved to Memphis, Tennessee. Though the circumstances   remain clouded, it appears that Vernon Presley was in trouble with the law. Apparently he   had been selling moonshine whiskey. Reportedly, Tupelo authorities gave Vernon two weeks   to leave town. In any case, the Presley's moved from Tupelo to Memphis in September 1948,   and Elvis Presley was enrolled at the Christine School. The following year he entered Humes   High School.
 
From 1948 to 1953, Elvis Presley frequent on Beale Street and he joins the black bars and   jukes listening to the black musicians, and his years at Humes High were unevenly, except   for his senior year. During that year, 1952 to 1953, Elvis Presley was persuaded by his  history and homeroom teacher Miss Mildred Scrivener, to perform in the annual Humes High   Minstrel Show, which she produced.
 
While attending Humes High School, Elvis Presley went to work for the Precision Tool   Company on June 3, 1951. He was employed there only a month. After graduating from high   school, Elvis Presley frequently in the Beale Street area's, and was hired by the Crown  Electric Company as a truck driver. His job consisted primarily of delivering supplies to the   men on construction sites.
 
During a lunch break on a Saturday afternoon in July 1953, Elvis Presley stopped in front of   the Memphis Recording Service at 706 Union Avenue. The Memphis Recording Service was a   lucrative sideline for Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records. While there were several   similar companies in Memphis. Elvis chose the Memphis Recording Service because it was   owned by Sam Phillips. Legend has it that Elvis wanted to make a record for his mother's   birthday; however, Gladys Presley's birthday was on April 25, so that story can be discounted.
 
Marion Keisker, a former "Miss Radio of Memphis" and then Sam Phillips' studio manager, was   in the studio when Elvis Presley proceeded to record two songs "My Happiness", and "That's   When Your Heartaches Begin". Midway through "My Happiness", Keisker recognized in Elvis  Presley the quality that Sam Phillips was looking for: "A white singer with a Negro voice". She   immediately threaded a piece of discarded recording tape onto the Ampex tape recorder  used in the studio and succeeded in recording the last third of "My Happiness" and all of   "That's When Your Heartaches Begin". Before Elvis left the studio with his record, Keisker   asked for his address and telephone number.
 
On Monday, January 4, 1954, Elvis Presley again returned to the Memphis Recording Service   to make another four-dollar demo. In early June of 1954, Sam Phillips couldn't locate the   black singer of a demo record of "Without Love" that he brought back from Peer Music in  Nashville. He decided to record it with someone else, and Marion Keisker suggested he try   Elvis Presley.
 
On Monday, July 5, 1954, Elvis Presley made his first commercial recording session at Sun   Records. The first song he put on tape was "Harbor Lights". During a refreshment break, Elvis   began cutting up and singing an upbeat version of Arthur Crudup's blues standard "That's All   Right", and his musicians Scotty Moore and Bill Black joined in. The next evening they   decided on an up-tempo version of Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" for the flip-side of  the record.
 
Sam Phillips took acetates of Elvis' first record to many of the local disc jockeys. On the   evening of July 7, 1954 on his WHBQ radio program, "Red Hot and Blue", disc jockey Dewey   Phillips played "That's All Right". The response was so terrific that Dewey Phillips called Elvis   at home to arrange an interview. The interview and record made Elvis an overnight celebrity   in Memphis.
 
On July 12, 1954, Elvis Presley signed a managerial contract with Scotty Moore, and later   that week signed a recording contract with Sun Records. The following week, on July 19,   "That's All Right"/"Blue Moon Of Kentucky" (SUN 209) was released. Eventually sales totaled   less than twenty thousand copies, but it was the beginning of a career that would be   unmatched by anyone in the history of the entertainment industry.
 
Elvis Presley's first professional appearance after signing with Sun Records was at the   Overton Park Shell on July 30, 1954. Slim Whitman was the featured performer that day.
 
Elvis soon began making many professional appearances, among them the grand opening of   the Katz Drug Store in September 1954. On October 2, 1954, he made his first and only   appearance at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, singing "Blue Moon Of Kentucky".   The audience response was lukewarm and Jim Denny, the talent coordinator for the Grand   Ole Opry, suggested that Elvis Presley go back to driving a truck. Two weeks later, however,   Elvis performed on the "Louisiana Hayride", and the response was so good that he was asked   to become a regular.
 
On January 1, 1955, Scotty Moore, no longer able to fully devote his time to the   management of Elvis Presley's career, relinquished his managerial duties to WMPS disc   jockey Bob Neal.
 
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black auditioned for "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts" in   New York City in April 1955, failing to make the show.
 
In the fall of 1955, Sam Phillips was faced with a problem: should he continue to devote his   energies to promoting Elvis, or should he sell Elvis' contract to the highest bidder and use   the money to develop several of the potential stars he had at Sun Records. He chose the  latter. At the Warwick Hotel in New York City, on November 20, 1955, Sam Phillips sold Elvis'   Sun contract to RCA Victor for the total sum of $40,000 ($25,000 from RCA and $15,000   from the Hill and Range Music Company), plus a $5,000 bonus to Elvis Presley to cover the  amount he would have received in royalties from Sun Records.
 
Though he was with Sun Records for only sixteen months, Elvis Presley recorded five   records: SUN 209 ("That's All Right"/"Blue Moon Of Kentucky''); SUN 210 ("Good Rockin'   Tonight"/"I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine"); SUN 215 ("Milkcow Blues Boogie"/"You're A  Heartbreaker"); SUN 217 ("Baby, Let's Play House"/"I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone"); SUN   233 ("Mystery Train"/"I Forgot To Remember To Forget").
 
In late 1954, Colonel Thomas Andrew Parker, a former carnival worker, began taking an   interest in Elvis' career, and it was Parker who helped to secure the RCA Victor contract.   In 1955, Parker assisted Bob Neal in booking several performances for Elvis Presley. Although   Bob Neal was Elvis' legal manager, Parker began to guide his career in mid-1955. On March   15, 1956, Tom Parker officially took over the managerial duties.
 
After signing with RCA Victor, all of Elvis' Sun singles were re-released on RCA's label, and on   January 10, 1956, Elvis Presley had his first recording session for RCA Victor in Nashville,   Tennessee. The first song put on tape was "I Got A Woman", but the big hit from the session   was "Heartbreak Hotel", a tune written by Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton. "Heartbreak   Hotel", backed with "I Was The One", was released on January 27, 1956, and the following  evening, Elvis, Scotty, and Bill made their national television debut on the Dorsey Brothers   "Stage Show". Five more appearances followed. By the time of the last appearance, on March   24, "Heartbreak Hotel" was the number one song on Billboard magazine's popularity chart,   and Elvis Presley was on his way to becoming a millionaire.
 
Elvis Presley made a screen test for Hal Wallis of Paramount studios on April 1, 1956. He did   a scene from "The Rainmaker" with veteran actor Frank Faylen and sang "Blue Suede Shoes".   Two days later, Elvis made the first of two appearances on "The Milton Berle Show". A  disastrous two-week stand at the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, followed later in   April and early May. Originally scheduled for four weeks. Elvis' last Las Vegas debut was cut  short after the second week because of poor audience response. On June 5, 1956, Elvis   made his second appearance on "The Milton Berle Show", and "The Steve Allen Show"   followed on July 5, 1956. Elvis Presley's big break came when he performed on "The Ed   Sullivan Show" on September 9, 1956. After that he was truly a national phenomenon. His  performance was viewed by an estimated 54 million people.
 
Elvis' first movie, Love Me Tender, premiered in November 1956, and he was on his way to   becoming a successful movie star. Three other films were made in the 1950s: Loving You,   Jailhouse Rock, and King Creole.
 
Before filming King Creole, Elvis Presley received his draft notice. Originally scheduled to   report for duty on January 20, 1958, Elvis requested and received a deferment to March 24,   1958 so that he could finish filming King Creole.
 
On Monday morning, March 24, 1958, Elvis Presley was inducted into the U.S. Army. He   received his indoctrination at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, and was then sent to Fort Wood,   Texas, for boot camp. Though Elvis' Army career was primarily uneventual, two events did  occur that were to change his life.
 
While Elvis was stationed at Fort Wood, Texas, his mother Gladys became ill. She died on   August 14, 1958, at the Methodist Hospital in Memphis. Gladys Presley was forty-six, though   it was erroneously believed she was forty-two.
 
In September 1958, Elvis Presley was assigned to the Second Armored Division in West   Germany. During his stay in Germany, Airman Currie Grant introduced Elvis to his future   wife, Priscilla Beaulieu.
 
Vernon Presley also met his future wife in West Germany. Davada (Dee) Stanley was in the   process of divorcing her husband, an Army sergeant, when Vernon met her. On July 3, 1960,   Vernon Presley and Dee Stanley were married in a private ceremony in Huntsville, Alabama.   Elvis Presley did not attend.
 
Soon after Elvis' discharge on March 5, 1960, he travelled to Miami, Florida, to film the   Frank Sinatra-Timex Special "Welcome Home, Elvis" for ABC-TV. Just before Christmas 1960,   Elvis placed a call to Colonel Joseph Beaulieu to ask for permission for Priscilla to spend the   holiday at Graceland. After talking with Vernon Presley, Colonel Beaulieu agreed. More that a   year later, Elvis arranged Priscilla to live at Graceland, enroling her in Immaculate   Conception High School in Memphis.
 
Elvis Presley gave a benefit concert for the USS Arizona Memorial Fund in Honolulu, Hawaii,   on March 25, 1961. It was to be his last live performance for eight years. "Good Luck   Charm", was Elvis' last number one single until 1969, was released the following year.
 
During the 1960s, Elvis busied himself with making movies, filming twenty-seven of them   during the decade. His most successful film was Viva Las Vegas in 1964. None of the movies   received rave reviews from the critics, but Elvis' legion of fans made certain that they all   showed a profit at the box office.
 
Musically, the mid-1960s was a period of decline for Elvis Presley. None of his singles   released reached number one and almost all of them were from his movies. His records   weren't the giant hits they were in his golden years of the 1950s and early 1960s. Elvis'   decline can be attributed to several factors. Foremost among them is the advent of the   British invasion and, specifically, the Beatles. The sheer number of instrumental and vocal   groups and single performers on the music charts simply diluted the market. There was more competition for the public's record-buying dollar, and it took a much stronger record to   reach number one or to become a million-seller.
 
On May 1, 1967, Elvis and Priscilla were married at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.   Nine months later, on February 1, 1968, their child, Lisa Marie, was born. Elvis' marriage and   the birth of Lisa Marie seemed to give him a new drive for success and the urge to perform   before a live audience again.
 
After seven years of concert inactivity, Elvis Presley decided to start performing before the   public once again. The first step on his comeback trail was an NBC television special titled   "Elvis". He filmed the special in June of 1968 at NBC's Burbank, California, studios. The   special, which aired on December 3, 1968, received critical acclaim and good ratings.
 
In January and February 1969, Elvis Presley had his first Memphis recording session since his   days with Sun Records. His recordings at the American Sound Studios were among the most   dynamic of his career. On July 31, 1969, Elvis began a spectacular one-month engagement at   the International Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada - his first appearance in Las Vegas since the   disastrous booking at the New Frontier Hotel thirteen years earlier.
 
In November 1969 Elvis   Presley once again reached the top of the music charts with "Suspicious Minds" his first   number one song since 1962. At the same time, Change Of Habit", his last movie (except for   two documentaries), was released.
 
Elvis Presley was presented an award by the U.S. Jaycees for being one of the "Ten   Outstanding Young Man of America" in 1971. Two years later one of the crowning   achievements of Elvis' career occurred. On January 14, 1973, Elvis performed before a   worldwide television audience in a special called "Elvis - Aloha From Hawaii". A taped and   expanded version of the special was aired by NBC-TV in the United States on April 4, 1973.
 
Everything seemed to be coming up roses for Elvis Presley in the early 1970s - at least   professionally. But the constant touring, filming, and long periods of separation from Priscilla   put a strain on their marriage. In addition, Priscilla had to compete with Elvis' entourage,   the Memphis Maffia, for his attention. In 1972, Priscilla left Elvis for Mike Stone, her karate   instructor. Elvis and Priscilla were divorced in October 1973.
 
Even before his divorce, and shortly after his separation, Elvis began dating other woman.   Although he dated Sheila Ryan, Malessa Blackwood, and several others. Linda Thompson was   foremost in Elvis' life and was his steady companion from 1972 to 1976. Linda had been a   Miss Tennessee.
 
Toward the end of 1976, Elvis had a new steady girl-friend - Ginger Alden, a first runner-up   in the 1976 Miss Tennessee beauty pageant. According to Ginger Alden, Elvis proposed to her   on January 26, 1977, and they were to be married on Christmas Day of 1977, That day never   came. Elvis Presley made several concert appearances in 1977, the last in Indianapolis on   June 26, 1977.
 
On the night of August 15-16, 1977, just one day before leaving on yet another tour, Elvis   visited the office of dentist Lester Hoffman to get a cavity filled. A few hours later, he   played racquetball with his cousin Billy Smith and his wife, Jo. After playing racquetball,   Elvis went to bed. He awoke late in the morning to go to the bathroom, taking a book, "The   Scientific Search For The Face Of Jesus", with him to read.
 
Shortly after 2:00 p.m., Ginger Alden found Elvis slumped on the floor. She called Joe   Esposito, who tried to revive Elvis Presley. At approximately 2:30 paramedics Charlie Crosby   and Ulysses S. Jones arrived at Graceland to render assistance and to take Elvis Presley to   the Baptist Memorial Hospital. All attempts at resuscitation by the doctors failed, and Elvis   Presley was pronounced dead at 3:30.
 
Throughout the world, Elvis' fans went into mourning, and many booked flights to Memphis.   Reverend C.W. Bradley officiated at the private funeral services at Graceland an Thursday,   August 18, 1977, and Elvis Presley's body was later entombed at Forest Hill Cemetery next   to that of his mother. Because of an attempted body snatching on August 29, and the   tremendous crowds at Forest Hill Cemetery, the bodies of Elvis and Gladys Presley were   moved to the grounds of Graceland on the night of October 2, 1977.
 
Much speculation surrounds the death of Elvis Presley. He did have a history of health   problems, three previous heart attacks (cardiac arrythmia, and drug did contribute to his   death, some claim he had been taking prescription drugs because he was slowly dying of   bone cancer. No matter what the cause of death, the world lost a greatest entertainer and   the King Of Rock And Roll - Elvis Presley.
 
His Memphis home, Graceland (open to the public since 1982), one of the most popular   tourist attractions in the South, is an enduring reminder of the quintessentially southern   character of Elvis Presley.
 
On August 12, 1992, RCA and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)   posthumously awarded to Elvis Presley 110 gold, platinum and multi-platinum albums and   singles, the largest presentation of gold and platinum records in history. Included was a gold   award for a new box set, Elvis, The King Of Rock And Roll, The Complete 50s Masters, for   which there had been enough advance orders to prompt the RIAA to give it platinum status.   In late 1993 another box set, Elvis: From Nashville to Memphis, The Essential 60s Master I,   went gold, selling over 100,000 units of this five-disc collection. This brings Elvis Presley's   total of gold, platinum, or multi-platinum titles to 111. This brings his total of times to go   gold or platinum to 274 units, as one must go gold twice to go platinum, and some of the   titles are multi-platinum.
 
Elvis Presley stood at number one on the list of certifications, with more than twice as many   certifications as any of the nearest contenders. As of August 1992, the Beatles came in at   number two with 41 titles, followed by the Rolling Stones with 39, Barbara Streisand with   37, and Elton John with 37.
 
It is estimated that Elvis Presley has sold in excess of one billion records worldwide, more   than any other artist in the history of recorded voice.
After the session, Elvis Presley went immediately over to Ed Leek's house on East Jackson  Avenue. Eventually, after spinning it for his parents, Elvis Presley and Ed Leek take the  record home. Ed Leek stored the disc and forgot about it over time. It was not until August  1988, when the story broke nationally, that Ed Leek sought authentication of the record. It  came quickly. There were a number of people in Memphis who were aware of it.
 
One of them was Marcus Van Story. He was sitting in a local cafe on the hot August day in  1953 that Elvis Presley decided to record his two songs. "I had nothing to do and was  hanging around Taylor's Cafe", Van Story remarked. "In walked Elvis Presley and we talked  for a moment. He wasn't nervous", van Story continued. Van Story walked with Ed Leek  and Elvis Presley next door to Sun Records and left to do some errands. 
 
"When Ed Leek  and Elvis Presley walked into the Memphis Recording Service, I didn't think anything of it",  Van Story concluded.

THE DISAGREEMENT BETWEEN MARION AND SAM 

Some references will pin the "My Happiness" recording date down only as close as the  summer of 1953 (July 18). Some say late summer. But Marion Keisker said in November 1989 it had  to have been in June because all of Memphis Recording Service's logs were intact with the  exception of June 1953. It is easy to see why someone may have wanted to "borrow" that  particular log, given its historic significance, and collector's value. It arbitrarily made it  June 13, based on the fact we know it was on a Saturday and June 13 would have been  Elvis' first payday from Parker. If not this date, then it almost had to have been June 27.
 
"She talked to Jerry Hopkins and Jerry had the first book on Presley", recalled Sam  Phillips, "and course, Marion worked for me for a long time and she told stuff that was...  That would have been just fine with me, I mean that she had enough confidence that she  knew that she was gonna play it for me and I'd have to okey it or I would express an  opinion. That is just simply not the truth".
 
"She was there when Presley came in. I was in the control room, she was sittin' up in the  front office - the only office! That's exactly like it was. So that is unequivocally, if I say  nothin' else to you today, that is absolutely... I wish that damn thing was put to rest. Not  that it amounts to anything other than... Goddammit, it's a lie, for whatever reason. So  that is certainly not true".
MARION KEISKER MACINNES - College-educated studio manager for Sam Phillips at the  Memphis Recording Service and Sun Records until November 1955. Marion Keisker was born  in Memphis on September 23, 1917, and attended Memphis Southwestern College (Rhodes), where  she in 1938 graduated, and had majored in English and medieval French. She had made her  radio debut on the weekly children's hour "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod" on WREC radio station in 1929 at the age of twelve and had been appearing on one show or another ever  since.
 
After her marriage in 1939, she moved to Peoria, Illinois, returning to Memphis after her  divorce in 1943. She began work as a secretary to a businessman named Chambers, who had  offices in the Peabody Hotel, located at 149 Union Avenue.  The Peabody housed the WREC  radio, and Marion joined the station in 1946, a year after Sam Phillips. Keisker, who had held   the title of "Miss Radio Memphis", and had been an announcer with WREC radio, and she had  been the host of the very popular "Meet Kitty Kelly" since 1946, a talk show on which as the  eponymous hostess she interviewed visiting celebrities or simply discoursed on subjects of  her own choosing if a guest didn't happen to be on hand.
 
She was on the air five days a week, as well as the nightly broadcast of "Treasury Bandstand"  from the Skyway Ballroom at the Peabody Hotel. She wrote, produced, and directed as many  as fourteen other programs at a time on WREC radio and was an industrious on- and off-air  personality. When Sam Phillips opened his own recording studio she came along as his office manager, although she continued to work part-time at the station until 1955 - she needed  the radio station paycheck because the Memphis Recording Service barely did more than  meet its own rent. Even after Phillips launched Sun Records in 1952, the picture didn't  improve. Marion recalled that she would sometimes place her own money into petty cash in  order to disguise the company's desperate financial picture from Sam Phillips, who suffered  from frequent depression because of his inability to sustain a living from the studio and the  label.
 
Despite a background in light classical music, Marion developed a genuine taste for the blues  during her early years at Sun. She came to share Phillips' musical vision, and to cherish the  unsophistication that he sought. She had especially fond memories of Howlin' Wolf, and even  retrieved the rejected acetate masters of his sessions with Sam Phillips from the garbage for  her own collection.
 
She was the one who called in the musicians, paid them, and logged events in a notebook  that is the prime source for Phillips' activities during those early years. Without Marion's  notebook, Sun archaeology would be a barren field. Sam Phillips' documentation skills barely  ran beyond sticking a paper marker in a tape before his preferred cut. Marion also handled  much of the day-to-day contact with distributors and pressing plants, which accounted for  her distaste at later being tagged Sam Phillips' "secretary". Together with Sam and his  brother Jud, she nurtured the distribution network and radio contacts that would serve as a  launching pad for Sun Records. In her courtly southern manner she dealt with some of the  most rapacious individuals in the cutthroat rhythm and blues business.
 
She was present when Elvis Presley entered the Memphis Recording Service to cut "My  Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" in the summer of 1953. It was Keisker's  foresight that made her turn on the master Ampex 350 C (serial number 54L-220) tape  recorder while Elvis was singing and then to ask him for his address and telephone number,  written on the note: "Good ballad singer, hold". Most of the books written about Elvis  Presley, as well as the 1979 movie "Elvis", have repeated her famous exchange with Elvis.
 
"He said, "If you know anyone that needs a singer..."
"And I said, "What kind of a singer are you?"
"He said, "I sing all kinds".
"I said, "Who do you sound like?"
"I don't sound like nobody".
"I thought, "Oh yeah, one of those.... "What do you sing, hillbilly?"
"Yeah, I sing hillbilly".
"Well, who do you sound like in hillbilly?"
"I don't sound like nobody".
 
In the 1940s she used the on-the-air pseudonym Kitty Kelly. Keisker even contributed a   verse to the song "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine", which Elvis recorded in September  1954. She joined WHER, an all-woman radio station in Memphis, in 1955.
 
After Marion quit radio station WREC in 1955 she worked with Sam Phillips to launch WHER,   an "all-girl" radio station (with all male shareholders). The parting of the ways eventually   came in September 1957, when Marion Keisker left to join the Air Force.  The rapidly growing   success of Sun Records had destroyed the personal and professional relationship between   Marion Keisker and Sam Phillips that seemed to have flourished in leaner times.
 
After she left the Air Force in a flurry of litigation in 1969, Marion Keisker returned to   Memphis to begin a new career in theater. On her return, she discovered that the era of   instant history was awaiting her. 
 
There was a steady procession of music historians waiting   to interview her about her involvement in Sun Records. Her assertion to Jerry Hopkins that   she recorded the first Presley acetate brought her into conflict with Sam Phillips, a conflict   that - like a Middle Eastern border war - would flare up intermittently over the next two   decades.
 
After an operation for cancer in August 1989 and subsequent hospitalizations, Marion   Keisker died on December 29, 1989 in Kennedy Hospital, located at 1030 Jefferson Avenue,   in Memphis. Sam Phillips would probably have accomplished what he did without her, but   Marion's organizational skills and support eased the pain. Though she never sought to deflect   attention from Phillips' artistic achievement, for six largely barren years she underpinned   his maverick operation.
JULY 19, 1953 SATURDAY
 
Elvis Presley have taken his acetate "My Happiness"/"That's When Your Heartaches Begin" to  The Blues Shop, a little record store at 286 North Main Street across the street from Suzore  II Theater where the young men would gather to listen to the inventory. The shop played his  acetate.
 
Elvis Presley was so proud of that record he wanted everyone to hear it. The shop  played an unheralded role in Elvis' music education, introducing him to different styles of  blues, gospel, and jazz. For years this favorite hangout has been referred to as "Charlie's"  simply because everyone called in by the owner's name. Charlie was quick to play the latest  offerings for anyone who stopped in at the store.
 
Later he took it to his classmate Ed Leek's house to play on the family record player. For  whatever reason he left it there, and the acetate disappeared until Ed offered it for sale  some thirty plus years later. RCA/BMG purchased it and released it as part of The Complete  50s Masters boxed set in 1992. But before Ed Leek stored it away, Elvis Presley may have  played the acetate in a forgotten record store on North Main Street.
SUMMER 1953
 
The country western bars, specially Hernando Hide-Away located on 3210 Old Hernando  Road in Memphis, later a favorite hangout for Jerry Lee Lewis and especially attracted a lot of women, who hung around looking for companionship or just a drink and loved anybody  who could carry a tune. Elvis Presley quickly noticed that singers were never at a loss for  female company after a set, but as he spent more time at predominantly white bars, Elvis  found himself the center of unfamiliar attention.
 
Experienced women saw through the  loud clothes and dyed hair to his sexual potential. Bar groupies weren't good, simple, and pure, and Elvis Presley wasted no time immersing himself in their open arms.
 
Elvis wasn't  comfortable talking about sex, but he couldn't contain himself after finally losing his  virginity. He came and found out the diner hangout and dragged to Earl Greenwood outsite  to talk in private. 
 
"This better be good - I wasn't done eating yet". "Guess what", he said. "I got me a real  date last night". "You know... I met a woman last night at Hernando's and we got to talkin'  and had a few drinks, then she, you know, invited me over", he said. "What she look like", asked Earl. "Pretty enough, although she was wearin' too much make-up, but that's 'cause  she was older". "How much older?". "I don' know, twenty-five maybe. Don't matter. She got  her own place, real nice, too, and when we got there, we had us a drink and then she wanted to, you know, we did it". "You went all the way with her", asked Earl Greenwood.  "All the way. Three times. I coulda done it to her all night, but she got tired and tol' me  she had to get some sleep for work. Can you believe it? earl, it was great, you gotta get  Karen to let you do it". "I mean it, there ain't nothin' better. You'll see what I mean. It  makes you feel so... strong. I hardly slept t'all but felt like I could go on forever. Now I  know what women are best for", he laughed. "What's her name". "Laura". "Laura what?". "I  don' know - she didn't say".
 
Laura was the first in a steady stream of one- or two night stands. If the girl didn't have  her own apartment, they drove to a secluded spot and climbed in the back seat of Elvis'  car to satisfy their fevered urges. As he got more experience, Elvis developed a sexiness  that bubbled to the surface, attracting even more ladies to fulfill his desires. Elvis Presley  used women with relish but considered them cheap. His attitude toward them was harsh,  even hostile, once the sex was over. More than once after finishing with one girl, he'd go  back to the bar and pick up another for more. The last thing Elvis Presley wanted was to  get emotionally involved, so the women he slept with were truly objects for sex, not  human beings with feelings.
AUGUST 3, 1953 MONDAY
 
Elvis Presley once again back at the Tennessee State Employment Security office, expresses  interest in obtaining a job where he can "keep clean" and is sent out for several interviews.
 
AUGUST 5, 1953 WEDNESDAY
 
Elvis interviews for a job at Sears Roebuck but is not hired.
 
AUGUST 6, 1953 THURSDAY
 
Elvis Presley applies for a job as a delivery boy but is not hired. Elvis applies for a job at  Kroger's grocery store but is not hired.
 
AUGUST 21, 1953 FRIDAY
 
Colonel Tom Parker, whose managerial skills have by now become legendary in Nashville, is  let go by his single client, number-one-selling country artist Eddy Arnold. Arnold's letter  comes out of the blue, leaving Parker both emotionally shaken and at professional loose  ends, though a relatively amicable financial settlement leaves him with some of Arnold's  bookings.
SEPTEMBER 21, 1953 MONDAY
 
Elvis Presley, for the second time, and his cousin, Gene Smith, were hired by the Precision  Tool Company, located at 1132 Kansas Street, at the same time in September 1953 to work  the day shift. Working as a sander and manufacturer of shelves as well as the operator of a  hand drill and drill press. His pay is $1.55 per hour. He will remain at this job until March 19,  1954.
 
The withholding statement when Elvis worked for Precision Tool Co. is 3 3/4x8 inches. An  3 1/2x6 3/4 inches pay stub issued to Elvis Presley from Precision Tool Co., Inc. in  Memphis. Dated September 9, 1953. Shows 54 hours worked during the pay period, with  $61.00 earned, $21.00 of which was overtime. $4.50 was deducted from income taxes.

(Above) (1) Gene Smith and Elvis Presley dressed for the West at the Mid South Fair in Memphis, September 1953.

(2) Pay stub issued to Elvis Presley from Precision Tool Company in Memphis. Dated September 8, 1953.

(3) Precision Tool Company ID Card.

UNKNOWN DATE OCTOBER 1953
 
Elvis Presley perform at Eagle's Nest located at 4090 Winchester Avenue in Memphis,  Tennessee. According to accounts, the performance occurred while Elvis Presley was still  working for Precision Tool Company, and he is said to have been paid five dollars. The house  entertainment was the Johnny Long Band, and during their intermission, Elvis Presley sang  and played guitar alone.
 
One witness, John Bruce, vividly remembers that Elvis Presley performed in October 1953  because the month coincided with a new car purchase. According to John Bruce, Dewey  Phillips introduced Elvis Presley as the "poor man's Liberace" because Phillips believed  Elvis was going to play the piano.
 
Bruce recalled that he felt sorry for Elvis Presley  because it was apparent that he was poor. Even worse was the reaction that Elvis  received. Scarcely anyone paid attention to him as he strummed his guitar singing Dean  Martin's "That's Amore".
OCTOBER 1953
 
Little Junior Parker's "Feelin' Good" entered the Rhythm and Blues charts, and Ebony  magazine featured a story on the Memphis blues artist. Capitalizing on his hit record, Little  Junior Parker toured the South with Big Mama Thorton, Johnny Ace, and B.B. King.
 
UNKNOWN DATE FALL 1953
 
Elvis Presley hung out with Marcus Van Story, Stanley Kesler, Paul Burlison, and Ronald Smith  at Taylor's Cafe, located at 710 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, next to the Sun studio,  and talked about music. A great deal of Elvis' musical proclivity was an outgrowth of the  Memphis scene. There was a vibrant, electric diversity among the local bands, whetter their  music was played in the blues clubs on Beale Street or the hillbilly bars on the outskirts of  town. As he performed in small clubs, Elvis Presley chose songs he believed the general  public wanted to hear. During this period, it was Presley's knowledge of pop, blues, hillbilly,  and rhythm and blues tunes that allowed him to effectively entertain local audiences,  interpreting these tunes in his own unique rockabilly style.
TAYLOR'S RESTAURANT (NOW SUN STUDIO CAFE) - Memphis restaurant located at 710 Union  Avenue across Marshall Avenue, next to Sun Records. Sun artists would meet at Taylor's to  eat and talk. In the mid-1950s, while recording with Sun, Roy Orbison lived in a two-room  apartment above the restaurant, which had been established in 1949. Producer Jack  Clement, an alumni of Sun Records and a talented Nashville producer, once said of Taylor's  Cafe, "That's where all the guys did their writing and talking, and that's where the Sun sound  was really born".
 
Sam Phillips, who boasted of not having a desk at his Memphis Recording Service, had his  own booth at Taylor's, and it was here that he would pore over paperwork with a fresh cup  of coffee at hand. 
 
Musicians would often grab a bite to eat here, some while taking a  much-deserved session break. If they were especially tired, they might spend the night in  one of Miss Taylor's upstairs rooms. Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and Jerry Lee Lewis all  rented rooms in her second-floor boarding house above the cafe.
 
With so many professionals congregating at the cafe, it became a popular hangout for  those who dreamed of a career in music, a place where they could eavesdrop on  conversations about the industry and occasionally even hear the muffled music being  created next door. Many people recall that Elvis Presley often came into Taylor's before he  got his break at Sun Records. There, he could sit just a few feet from Sam Phillips, sip a  coke, and go over the many ways he might draw attention to himself. He could plan and he  could dream, all the while trying to find the courage to make his dreams come true.
 
Eventually Elvis Presley did find a way to introduce himself to Sam Phillips. Not long after  their introduction, Sam invited his friend Scotty Moore to sit down with him in his booth at  Taylor's Cafe. Over a cup of coffee, Sam Phillips told Scotty Moore about a young man who  had come in to record a song for his mother. It was at Taylor's Cafe that the idea of pairing  Scotty Moore and Bill Black with Elvis Presley was born.
 
Taylor's Cafe has been closed for many years, however, Sun Studio operates their cafe in the  same location. The restaurant tin ceiling and checkered-tiled floor are from the original  restaurant.
UNKNOWN DATE NOVEMBER 1953
 
Elvis Presley appeared at the South Side High School in Memphis, Tennessee, for the Annual  Talent Contest in November 1953, in a band with Ronald Smith and bass player Curtis Lee  Alderson. The band finished second to a Jerry Lewis comedy impersonator. "Elvis was  nervous and couldn't hold his pick very well", Ronald Smith chuckled.
 
Despite the pressures  of performing, Elvis Presley was drawing a great deal from these appearances. He was slowly  developing into a well-rounded and moderately seasoned performer, and there was also a  silent confidence developing in Elvis Presley as his popularity at Humes High grew. It was an  indication of how much Elvis Presley had leaned about playing guitar from Ronald Smith. "I  don't know of anyone who tried harder to perfect music", Smith commented about Presley.
 
UNKNOWN DATE NOVEMBER 1953
 
Employee Mrs. Weir Harris of the Tennessee Employment Security at 122 Union Avenue in  Memphis, Tennessee, administered Elvis Presley the GATB tests (General Aptitude Test  Battery) on November 1953. She recommended Elvis Presley when Gladys Tipler of Crown  Electric called her looking for a truck driver that same year.
 
UNKNOWN DATE LATE 1953
 
Elvis Presley perform at the Draghon's College in Memphis, Tennessee. "Back when I was a  student at Draughon's, we had Elvis Presley come over and sing for one of our school  assemblies", said Dick Foster, a native of the beautiful Missouri Ozarks. "He had sung maybe two or three times out at the Silver Slipper and one of our people had heard him and  suggested we get him for the school. He came and played about an hour and we paid him  fifty dollars. He had two guys with him. Back then he was singing hillbilly". Dick Foster  attended Draughon's from September 1953 to May 1954, leaving at least six weeks before  Elvis Presley recorded "That's All Right" on July 5, 1954, at Sun Records.
 
UNKNOWN DATE NOVEMBER 1953
 
The radio was another important influence upon Elvis' musical growth. One of the young Elvis Presley's favorite shows was Bob Neal's program over radio station WMPS. On his show, beginning in late 1952, Bob Neal opened and closed by playing the Ripley Cotton Choppers record ''Silver Bells''. It was a typically corny country tune, but Elvis loved it. He had as much interest in traditional country music as the new hillbilly sound. Johnny and Dorsey Burnette also listened to Bob Neal, but they didn't like traditional country music. Johnny Burnette frequently came over to Elvis' house on Saturday nights to listen to the ''West Memphis Jamboree''. This radio show, hosted by Dick Stewart, Charlie Feathers brother-in-law, was popular due to its wide musical mix. It was while listening to the ''West Memphis Jamboree'' in 1952 that Elvis heard Tennessee Ernie Ford's ''Blackberry Boogie'' and the following year Ford's version of ''I Don't Know It'' also intrigued him. These songs were country-tinged, but they had a hint of rock and roll music.  
 
SUN 190 "Blues Waltz" by the Ripley Cotton Choppers is released in September 1953 as the first country  record on the label. The records have a hillbilly stamp on the label to distinguish them  from Sun's blues releases.
FALL-WINTER 1953
 
Paul Burlison recalls that before Elvis Presley began working for Crown Electric Company,  located  475 North Dunlap  in Memphis, in April 1954, he joined Johnny and Dorsey  Burnette and Burlison on November 1953 at a gig that was broadcast on KWEM radio in West Memphis.
 
The show  took place at J&S Motors on the south side of Lamar Avenue, just west of Airways Avenue, as  an advertising stunt. Joe Schaeffer, the "S" of J&S, was sponsoring a portion of the radio show.  According to Burlison, Elvis Presley sang a slightly risque number titled "Talkin' About Your  Birthday Cake" with the Shelby Fowler's Band. At the time (1955), the Burnettes and Burlison  were just about to record their first single, "You're Undecided" b/w ''Go Along Mule'' (Von 1006), for the small Von label of  Booneville, Mississippi. 
 
"Shelby Follin was our announcer and on every broadcast from J&S he would say, 'Anybody  who wants to sing or play, come on out and we'll put you on the air", said Scheaffer. "Elvis  came out just once and he sang only one song, "My Birthday Cake". "It opened with the  lines, "Take your finger out of it, it don't belong to you".
 
And it went on like that until the end, where you learn what he's talking about, singing  about, all this time, was only a birthday cake. "Follin thought it was a little risque and he  told Elvis this. But it didn't matter. Elvis never came back on the show", recalled Scheaffer.
 
In a similar vein, Burlison also recalled that Elvis Presley joined Burlison and another  group, the Memphis Four, on several occasions during their KWEM broadcast from Airways  Used Cars. Elvis sings "Take Your Finger Out Of It" and "It Don't Belong To You". One in the audience watching was a young country singer named Johnny Cash. The car lot was only a  short walking distance from Elvis Presley's future home at 2414 Lamar Avenue.
 
"Over at KWEM", recalled Burlison, "they'd have a Saturday afternoon matinee. They'd  have bands playing for thirty minutes in sponsored segments. Our sponsor was Airways  Motors. One day we broadcast right off the car lot, and Elvis come up and sung with us. Shelby Fowler announced over the radio that if anyone wanted to sing or play an  instrument that they should come on out and join in. I already knew Elvis could sing  because every Saturday afternoon Elvis, Johnny Black (Bill Black's brother), and Lee  Denson would play at the Girls' Club at Lauderdale Courts, and I'd already seen him there  'cause I lived right around the corner. There was a chaperoned hop every Saturday night  and Elvis, Johnny, and Lee would get down there on Saturday afternoon, sit out on the  lawn, and sing before the hop. Then I saw him standing by the stage when we were  broadcasting and I said to Shelby, "Get that fella up here. He sings".
 
Over the next 18 months, Elvis Presley made at least three other appearances on KWEM. 
PAUL BURLISON - The lead guitarist with Johnny and Dorsey Burnette's Rock And Roll Trio,  Burlison was an extraordinary guitar player who taught Elvis a great deal about music. Not  only did Elvis Presley play with the Rock And Roll Trio at an Airways auto dealership, but  they were close friends prior to Elvis' fame. A quiet unassuming man, Burlison became a  well-to-do figure in the construction industry while continuing to pursue his musical interests. 
 
After Johnny and Dorsey Burnette's deaths, Burlison and more than a dozen  Memphis music figures put out a tasteful tribute to the Rock And Roll Trio. At the present  time he is the lead guitarist in the Sun Rhythm Section. An extraordinarily gifted musician  who has never gotten full recognition for his innovative talents, Burlison remains a gifted  guitarist.
  
Paul Burlison  died on Saturday September 27, 2003 of cancer in Horn Lake, Mississippi at the age of 74.
- THE STORY ABOUT KWEM RADIO -
 
Elvis Presley performed several times on KWEM Radio in West Memphis, Arkanas in 1954  prior to being discovered by Sam Phillips. Elvis was a frequent visitor to KWEM Studios at  both KWEM locations in West Memphis and 62 Flicker Street in Memphis. The first  appearance was with Kenneth Herman and Ronald Smith from Southside High School where  Elvis' girlfriend, Dixie Locke, attended school. Later he performed with his Lauderdale  Courts neighbor Johnny Burnette and the Rock And Roll Trio, and then with a country  group, the Shelby Follin Band.
 
Paul Burlison was a friend of Elvis' and played guitar in both bands. Paul Burlison, Johnny Burnette, Dorsey Burnette, Bill Black and Johnny Black all  lived in the Lauderdale Courts in Memphis along with Elvis lived. 
 
Dorsey Burnette and Paul  Burlison worked at Crown Electric Company with Elvis. Elvis, Johnny, and Dorsey Burnette  had the same guitar teacher, Lee Denson. Paul Burlison had been performing on KWEM  Radio since 1949 (he even played with Howlin' Wolf on KWEM). Johnny Burnette worked at  Home Equipment where Johnny Cash also worked. Elvis made his first public appearance  in 1953-1954 at the Saturday Night Music Jamboree in Memphis, which was also broadcast  on KWEM Radio. The show was staged by Joe Manuel who was a KWEM disc jockey. The  show also introduced Elvis to Johnny Cash, Eddie Bond, Lloyd Arnold and other new artists  looking for exposure. The Burnette Brothers also appeared at the Jamboree.
WINTER END 1953
 
North of Memphis in the suburb of Frayser was Doc's roadhouse. Early evening until 5:00 to  8:00 p.m., Doc's had an "open mike" and permitted anyone to entertain who possessed the  courage to get on the small bandstand. This small-town bar, ten miles from downtown Memphis, drew large crowds from nearby Millington Air Force Base. Every other Friday night,  Elvis Presley drove to Doc's and performed for five dollars. He dressed in a cowboy shirt and  hat, and often wore a string tie. The four-by-eight-foot stage was barely large enough for  Elvis Presley and his guitar. After finishing his set, Elvis would walk down to the bar to buy  the regulars a drink. As he sipped a cola, he would listen to criticism of his act. Doc's bar was  typical of the small amateur clubs that Elvis Presley worked in during 1953 and early 1954.
 
There were still others who shared Elvis Presley's musical interests. One of the people who hung around with Elvis was future label-owner of Erwin Records, Marshall Erwin Ellis, lived at 625 Chelsea Avenue in Memphis. He had converted his garage into a crude recording area, and was a kind of minor league Sam Phillips. In a few years, Ellis would found Fernwood Records and, with Thomas Wayne's hit ''Tragedy"", hit the Billboard pop chart. Like Elvis, Marshall Ellis was caught up with local Memphis music, and hoped to turn out his own records. Ellis and Elvis spent a great deal of time talking about the records played on the radio.
 
NOVEMBER 1953
 
Jud Phillips traveled to New York to talk with Broadcast Music Incorporated, about setting up  a Sun Record publishing company. Hi-Lo Music was soon registered with B.M.I. to publish Sun  copyrights. Also in late 1953, Jud Phillips convinced his brother that Jim Bulleit interest in  Sun Records was no longer an asset.
NOVEMBER 1953
 
Elvis Presley again Ronald Smith on stage at South Side High School in Memphis, as part of  the Annual Benefit show for the marching band. This time Ronald fronted his own rockabilly combo. They won second prize, losing top honours to a young comedian who impersonated  Jerry Lewis.
 
NOVEMBER 1953
 
Elvis Presley spent a long weekend in Louisiana at an amateur night, and there were  throwing any bottles. Elvis won the amateur night at the Louisiana Hayride and won fifty  dollars on this special contest.
 
DECEMBER 15, 1953 TUESDAY
 
In an unfortunate sidebar, Sam Phillips once again found himself in a legal dispute with Don  Robey, this time over Little Parker's contract. Perhaps in part settlement, the name "Phillips"  now appears appended to Parker whenever the composer credits are listed for "Mystery Train".
 
Jud Phillips write a letter to Don Robey and reads:  "Record 192 by Little Junior is showing movement around you... Looks like both sides are  selling but I think "Mystery Train" would be your side... How about checking it for me. I know  you must have had a great day and I sorry that I failed to see while in town but I feel like I  know you after our telephone conversation. Surely hope you can see fit to check this  number and I know if you feel like it has it you can put it on the map".
WINTER END 1953
 
Elvis Presley and photographer and policeman Ernest C. Withers at the Hippodrome at 500   Beale Street.  "I served as a policeman on Beale Street and was just the photographer of that era", recalls   Withers in 1995, who was a photographer for The Tri-State Defender and Memphis World   newspapers.
 
"I worked the Civil Rights Movement across the South; I covered so much of the   transition and development of B.B. King, Bobby Blue Bland, Johnny Ace, Earl Forest, Elvis  Presley, Rosco Gordon, and a number of blues people in the Hippodrome, Club Handy, and   Mitchell Hotel; I recorded the growth of Rufus Thomas and Amateur Night on Beale with Nat   Williams''.
 
''I was there during the Black Power Movement; I was there with the riots during  Martin Luther King, Jr. I was just on Beale Street". 
 
Legendary photographer and policeman Ernest C. Withers completed his drive to land his   photography studio bank on 333 Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee.
 
END DECEMBER 1953
 
As 1953 ended, Elvis spent Christmas with Vernon and Gladys, and continued to talk about his show business ambitions. The road to rock and roll fame was still a long way off, although Elvis had begun to feel comfortable and confident with his music.
 
But it wasn't just Presley's music. The street-corner symphony was taken over America, the rhythm and blues music that was essential to the future of rock and roll.
 
When the Drifters' ''Money Honey'' was played on Memphis radio, Elvis sang along and talked eagerly about his rhythm and blues record collection. The gospel tinged vocals that Clyde McPhatter laid down with the Drifters were special to Presley, who was amazed that many local radio stations continued to ban black music.
 
In 1953, record banning was in its infancy. Despite the new freedom, the increased prosperity, and the lessening of racial tensions, not everyone believed that the new music was positive. 
 
Station WDIA eventually banned the Bees' ''Toy Bell'', a song that would later become known as Chuck Berry's ''My Ding-a-Ling'', one of many that Memphis censors talked disparagingly about in the changing social-cultural environment because it contained ''bad words''.
 
''We knew that something special was happening with black music;;, Ronald Smith recalled. ''So we listened to as much of it as we could get''. Elvis, according to Smith, had a mission. It was to combine his musical interests into a unique style. ''I don't think Elvis knew what he was doing musically'', Smith concluded, ''but he sure as hell sounded good''.
 
 
 
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