CONTAINS

ELVIS SUN 1954 (10)
October 1, 1954 to October 31, 1954

> Back Elvis Sun Schedule <

Live Broadcast Recordings for Elvis Presley, October 2, 1954 (Tape Lost)
Live Broadcast Recordings for Elvis Presley, October 16, 1954

For Elvis Presley's Biography see > The Sun Biographies <
Elvis Presley's Sun recordings can be heard on the playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube < 
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

OCTOBER 1954

Carl Perkins' first official recording session at Sun Records is held this month.

OCTOBER 1, 1954 FRIDAY

Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black appeared at the Eagle's Nest Club (9:00pm) in Memphis with Tiny Dixon and the Eagle's Band. When Elvis became established in the Memphis scene, Sam Phillips suggested he consider hiring a manager.

Managers then usually did little more than arrange bookings and handle whatever promotional work there might be. Elvis hated talking business because he felt ignorant and incapable. He avoided putting himself in a position of ridicule and preferred to let others deal with contracts, figures, and money matters. Up to know, he had let Sam Phillips handle any business arrangements, but Phillips wasn't a manager.

More than anyone, it was Vernon Presley who pushed Elvis to find additional business representation, urging him to find someone soon. An attorney might have made the most sense, but southerners have tremendous distrust of lawyers, convinced they are out to use the law to cheat you.

Sam Phillips suggested Elvis Presley and his parents meet with Bob Neal, a Memphis disc jockey who worked at radio station WMPS.

The release of "Good Rockin' Tonight" and "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine" continued Sam Phillips' pattern of combining an uptempo song with a country tune. Since it was necessary to constantly promote Elvis' records, Sam Phillips again took off in his car for Shreveport, Louisiana. For weeks, Sam Phillips had been negotiating for Elvis Presley to appear regularly on the "Louisiana Hayride". Elvis' August 1954 audition had prompted Horace Logan to keep track of the younger singer. Finally, Logan and the "Hayride" management decided that the time was right to bring Elvis Presley onto the show. Just as Sam Phillips was attempting to confirm a date with the "Hayride" management, the "Grand Ole Opry" called. Sam Phillips was ecstatic; the "Opry" was also interested in booking Elvis Presley. The sudden appearance of "Good Rockin' Tonight" on the Memphis charts, and the general reaction to the record in the industry had finally convinced Jim Denny to showcase Elvis Presley. A contract specifying Saturday, October 2, 1954, as the "Grand Ole Opry" appearance date was mailed to Sam Phillips. He signed it and sent it back. It had been a real challenge to place Elvis Presley on the "Opry", but apparently they were now ready to take the young singer seriously. Why Jim Denny decided to book Elvis remains a mystery. Not only was Denny hostile to Elvis' music, but he was personally abusive to Sam Phillips. Perhaps Denny just couldn't ignore the chart action of Presley's Sun recordings.

OCTOBER 2, 1954 SATURDAY

''That's All Right'' b/w ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' Sun 209 ho

OCTOBER 2, 1954 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley, Sam Phillips and Marion Keisker, drove in Sam Phillips' four-door black 1951 Cadillac, followed by Scotty Moore, Bill Black and the instruments in another car, from Memphis to Nashville for Elvis Presley's only appearance on the "Grand Ole Opry" radio show. Elvis didn't own a suitcase, so Marion Keisker loaned him hers. He packed most of his wardrobe into the suitcase.

When Elvis Presley arrived at the Ryman Auditorium, home of the "Opry", he was taken a back by its shabby appearance. Country music's premier music palace was a run-down building badly in need of repair. "You mean this is what I've been dreaming about all these years?", Elvis Presley asked Marion.

Upon entering the auditorium, Sam Phillips determined that Elvis Presley was to appear on Hank Snow's segment of the "Opry". The three-hour live "Grand Ole Opry" show began promptly at eight o'clock, and it was divided into carefully contrived segments to appeal to a wide variety of country music listeners. As Elvis Presley nervously paced backstage, he met and had first conversation with the legendary Hank Snow:

"What's your name?"
"Elvis Presley, sir", Elvis responded.
"No", Snow bellowed. "What name do you sing under?".
"Hello, Hank, I'm Sam Phillips, and this kid sings under a name that's dynamite''.

Hank Snow walked away shaking his head. He chuckled to himself at the kid's mismatched, shoddy clothes. What was country music coming to when a new act couldn't afford boots, a hat, and a bright-coloured country outfit? The kid wore a funny-looking sports coat accentuated by the strangest pair of pants he'd ever see.

Marion Keisker sat out in the audience. "Who'd you come to see", she asked a woman next to her. "Marty Robbins", the woman said. "I never miss Marty Robbins. Who'd you come to hear". "Elvis Presley", Marion said. "Who?". "After this show, you won't ask me again", Marion told the woman.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

LIVE APPEARANCE FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
FOR WSM RADIO 1954

RYMAN AUDITORIUM, 116 FIFTH AVENUE, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
OCTOBER 2, 1954 SATURDAY
SESSION HOURS: 10:15 AND 10:30 P.M.
PRODUCER - JIM DENNY

Less than three months after the release of "That's All Right", Elvis Presley made his only scheduled appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, a weekly radio broadcast. The Opry originated from Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and was heard locally over WSM radio from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. Beginning the previous June, a half-hour portion of the show was also carried to 40 states over the CBS radio network from 8:30 to 9:00 p.m., Central Time.

Elvis Presley appeared between 10:30 and 10:50 p.m. on the Hank Snow segment sponsored by Kellogg's cereals. Also appearing in this portion of the show were Eddie Hill, with whom Scotty had previously recorded, and the Davis Sisters. According to Snow, Elvis Presley sang only "Blue Moon Of Kentucky".

Given that three artists shared the fifteen-minute segment, along with a couple of commercials for Kellogg's cereal, the one-song limit for Elvis Presley is quite likely.

It is part of the Elvis legend that his Opry performances did not go over well with either the country music crowd to the Opry's management. It is certain that he was not offered a return engagement.

As Elvis Presley prepared to go on stage, he looked at the script and saw that Kellogg's cereals sponsored his part of the show. During the two hours before the "Opry" show began, Jim Denny's role as the show's talent coordinator revealed his touchy, temperamental nature.

Just before he went on, Elvis Presley was approached by Denny, who announced that Elvis Presley could sing only songs he had recorded for the Sun label, something that Elvis Presley had not planned for.

Surprised by Denny's request and general attitude, it was Elvis Presley's first introduction to the bullying manner of the powerful, Machiavellian entertainment promoter, and he was disturbed by Denny's arrogant, abrasive demeanour.

Hiding his disappointment, Elvis Presley vowed to make the most of his appearance on the "Grand Ole Opry". Sam Phillips tried to reason with Denny. Some of Elvis' records, Phillips argued, were not suited for a country audience. If Elvis Presley could perform traditional country songs, he would establish a broad base among country music fans. Bill Black jokingly suggested that Denny was out of touch recent trends in country music. It was Black's way of letting Jim Denny know that he had slighted Elvis Presley. Denny insisted that he wouldn't allow an artist to sing a tune that he had not recorded.

An example of the tradition-bound management that ran the Opry - which still had a ban on drummers because Denny and others believed that drummers belonged more to burlesque than country music - it was Elvis' first taste of conservatism and censorship in the country music world.

Grant Turner announced the Hank Snow segment of the show, sponsored by Royal Crown Cola.

"ELVIS INTRODUCED BY HANK SNOW"
Recorded: - October 2, 1954 Probably

"BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Bill Monroe
Publisher: - Peer International Corporation
Recorded: - October 2, 1954 Probably

Rumours suggest could be recorded on tape, but we have no proof.

When Elvis Presley finally appeared, Elvis wanted to sing "Good Rockin' Tonight", but Jim Denny believed that it was too raucous for the "Grand Ole Opry". When Elvis Presley had asked Denny if he could sing it, Jim Denny responded, "We don't do that nigger music around here". Elvis Presley had been nervous and stiff during his performance, and Denny reminded Elvis Presley that he was still an amateur. Elvis Presley was enraged over Denny's criticism. Enroute to Memphis after leaving Nashville, both cars stopped for gas. Elvis Presley took his suitcase into the men's room and began brushing his teeth. After finishing, he flung the toothbrush into the toilet and left his suitcase in the men's room.

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

Setting the story straight. Following Elvis' guest appearance, the "Elvis legend" holds that Jim Denny, the Opry's producer, told Elvis that he ought to "go back to driving a truck". Elvis was reportedly so upset that he left his show clothes in a service station rest room on the way back to Memphis. He very well may have left the clothes, however. Bill Denny, son of Jim Denny, stated in an interview in Billboard of August 22, 1987, that this story about his father is misleading. Elvis Presley did not go over well with the Opry crowd, true enough. However, when Denny discussed this with Elvis Presley, he never discouraged Elvis from performing. Sam Phillips, Faron Young and Buddy Killen, who is a respected music publisher but at this time was a Nashville musician, all corroborate this version of the story.

"You had a strictly hardcore country audience", recalled Scotty Moore, "and we only did one song. If we could've done the whole act, like we were doin' in high schools, whatever, it might have been a different story, you just don't know.

But we just did one song. It was a hardcore country audience and you're doin' a revered song "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" by a revered artist, so you know there's gotta be a little jaundice, I would think, put on that".

"I took him to the Grand Ole Opry, and was very important", recalled Sam Phillips. "I called my friend Bob Neal who was a disc-jockey, and Bob started booking Elvis out on shows and things. Then I took care of the Opry with Jim Denny. Jim Denny was head of the Artists Service Bureau and I knew Jim so I went over there to see him and play the record. He said, "I've heard it, Sam, I just better not put him on right now because we just might do somethin' to The Grand Ole Opry and it's so traditional...". I told him I understood that and then I went into this bit about younger people and I said, 'These people that used to drive to town in a wagon goin' to the courthouse square and everything... the world has changed, Jim, we got jet aeroplanes!'. I said, 'Man. The Grand Ole Opry' - I grew up on it, I loved it!'. He said, 'I know you do and hey, it's not... the door is not closed. I think it's an interesting record but I don't wanna get sponsors cancelled...".

"Elvis heard us sing on the Grand Ole Opry", said Gorden Stoker, a member of the Jordanaires. "A thirty minute portion of the Opry was broadcast on NBC and every Saturday night we were on that part of the broadcast. Ninety percent of the time we would song a spiritual. That is a fast moving type of religious songs. Of course, that was really Elvis' first love. He loved spiritual religious singing, especially the stuff where you can snap your fingers and move. Of course he was brought up in a church to sing that type of song. He had been listening to us on the Grand Ole Opry and we did a program in Memphis with Eddy Arnold. He came back behind the stage to meet us. At that time he was on the Sun label, and he said, 'If I ever get a major recording contract, I would like to work with you guys".

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

GRAND OLE OPRY - The Grand Ole Opry is America's longest-running radio program, the Opry known as the "Mother Church of Country Music". It began in 1925, soon after Nashville station WSM first broadcast as the voice of the National Life and Accident Insurance Company. This Nashville-based firm was then expanding rapidly, moving beyond its initial base of sickness and accident policies into the more profitable life insurance field. Along with classical ensembles and pop dance bands, country musicians like Dr. Humphrey Bate's Augmented Orchestra supplied early WSM programming and helped attract prospective policyholders.

The father of the Opry was WSM program director George Dewey Hay, who came to the station in November 28, 1925, a few weeks after Bate's group arrived. Earlier, Hay had helped announce Chicago's WLS Barn Dance, a program that inspired country radio jamborees nationwide. By the year's and he had organized WSM talent into a regular Saturday-night show known simply as "the barn dance". Early performers included Hawaiian groups, minstrel acts, and military bands, but old-time string bands like Bate's soon prevailed.

Using strategies typical of the genre, Hay shaped the Opry into a folksy but highly commercial production that appealed to a broad-based audience of rural and small-town listeners scattered throughout the nation. He gave string bands names such as "Possum Hunters" or "Fruit Jar Drinkers" and urged them to wear countrified costumers. As master of ceremonies, Hay himself became the Solemn Old Judge, a stage persona with deep roots in American vaudeville and minstrelsy. In short, he made the Opry a variety show with a rural southern accent.

About 1927 Hay named the program the Grand Ole Opry in an impromptu parody of the National Broadcasting Company's Music Appreciation Hour, a classical program carried by WSM each Saturday just before the barndance show. "For the past hour", he announced, "we have been listening to music taken largely from the grand Opera, but from now on we will present the Grand Ole Opry". Hay then introduced harmonica player DeFord Bailey, a black man whose musical portrait of a speeding locomotive symbolized the Opry's homespun realism, reminiscent of an authentic rural barn dance or husking bee.

Fan letters, commercial sponsors, and rising insurance income convinced National Life to continue the Opry despite opposition from proper Nashvillians, who saw it as a threat to the city's genteel reputation. As WSM's power climbed from 1,000 watts in 1925 to 50,000 in 1931, the program's radio audience expanded dramatically, and the Opry's position became secure. WSM's clear-channel signal, broadcast through a new, superbly engineered tower built in 1932, blanketed most of the nation, and the show steadily gained supporters in almost every state. By 1936 the Opry generated as much as 80 percent of the station's weekly mail. Southerners were the mainstay of the Opry audience, and WSM naturally played up southern themes in Opry costumes, band names, radio dialogue, and publicity. But the program's national audience increased pressures toward variety; whit in a decade, cowboys, western swing bands, and honky-tonk singers surpassed old-time string bands as the dominant acts in the Opry roster.

The Opry's listenership widened further after 1939, when the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, makers of Prince Albert smoking tobacco, began sponsoring a half hour of the show on a 26-station NBC network. By 1952 this web had expanded to a coast-to-coast chain of 176 stations boasting a weekly audience of 10 million. Although WSM originated many other country or pop programs for network broadcast, the Prince Albert Show was by far the most visible and the longest running, lasting until 1961. Network airtime was especially important in sustaining the Opry through the late 1950s, a period in which most other radio barn dance withered in the face of competition from network television and the conversion of country radio stations to rock programming.

Along with the program's network connection, aggressive promotion, stylistic diversification, and the cultivation of a star system, television also helped the Opry thrive. Since the mid- 1950s Opry performers have appeared on numerous network TV specials, as well as on syndicated programs produced by WSM or by independent firms. In 1978 the Public Broadcasting System aired portions of the Opry itself for the first time, and in 1985 the Nashville Network began carrying a live, half-hour segment to cable-television viewers across the nation.

Early in the Opry's evolution, a live audience became vital to the broadcast, and a popular stage show developed around the radio program. To gain ever greater seating space, the show moved from WSM's studios (located in the National Life Building in downtown Nashville) to a succession of local halls before settling in the Ryman Auditorium in 1943. The Ryman, located at 116 Fifth Avenue, tel, 615/254-1445, which was originally called the Gospel Tabernacle, was built in 1892 with funds raised by riverboat captain Thomas G. Ryman. The gallery and wooden pews are today intact, and a reverential air still permeates the joint. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Ryman had free telephones in the lobby, which Colonel Tom Parker used to book his next acts. The TV series "The Johnny Cash Show" was telecast from the auditorium from 1969 to 1970.

After a 31-year run there, the Opry shifted to the magnificent new Opry House at Nashville's Opryland theme park, opened in the early 1970s by NLT Corporation, successor to National Life. The Opryland USA complex now embraces a large hotel and serves as headquarters for the Nashville Network; the Music Country Network; a radio web linked by satellite; and the General Jackson, a Cumberland River showboat. Since 1983 these enterprises (including WSM radio but not WSMV-TV, now owned by Gillett Broadcasting) have been operated by the Oklahoma Publishing Company, of Oklahoma City. Even in these elegant surroundings, however, the Opry has remained refreshingly informal, belying the planning each show requires. Announcers reading commercials, artists waiting to be introduced, and stagehands moving props all create a complex and entertaining spectacle.

In addition to drawing millions of tourists, the Opry has nurtured Nashville's music industry. About 1934 WSM organized its Artists Service, which booked Opry stars into schoolhouses and theatres, at first mostly in the Southeast. Before long, independent promoters were working with Opry officials to broaden the range the Opry louts throughout the United States and abroad. After World War II, as the Opry began to recruit country music's leading stars, national recording companies began to centre their country recording operations in Nashville. Independent recording studios built by WSM engineers or musicians helped produce hits that further established Nashville's reputation as Music City, U.S.A., a name coined by WSM announcer David Cobb about 1950. Capitalizing on the Opry's popularity, Nashville-based music publishers furnished song material for stage shows and recording sessions and helped promote Opry artists' career.

It was on the Grand Ole Opry radio program on October 2, 1954, that Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, Sam Phillips, and Marion Keisker drove to Nashville from Memphis in two cars. In one of the biggest bloopers in music history, Jim Denny suggested that Elvis Presley go back to driving a truck. After the performances Elvis Presley was upset by the lack of audience response. Backstage, Ernest Tubb told the young singer "not to worry, you have done a fine job and the audience just doesn't know". Years later, Elvis Presley told Hank Williams Jr. that when he walked out on stage all he could think about was that this was where Hank Williams Sr. had once played.

For more than 60 years the Grand Ole Opry has survived not only changes in media and corporate ownership but also transformations in sounds, styles, and repertoires, reflecting the adaptation of a rural-based music to an increasingly urban society. Today, the Opry is a showcase for almost every type of country music, including honky-tonk, bluegrass, oldtime, cowboy, Cajun, and country-pop, all of which continue to enjoy widespread popular favour. As art and as enterprise, the Opry remains country music's most enduring institution and one of the most significant in the history of American popular entertainment. During the day it is still open for tours, although the displays of memorabilia, some Johnny Cash gold discs and faded photos of Opry stars, are pretty threadbare.

HANK SNOW - Nicknamed as The Singing ranger, country singer born Clarence Eugene Snow, in a small town in Eastern Canada called Liverpool, in the province of Nova Scotia, on May 9, 1914. He lived with his parents and three sisters and went to school there until he was eight years old.

At the age of 8 Hank Snow became the victim of a broken home, two of his sisters were sent to an orphanage and the third and oldest sister went to work in a shoe factory. Hank was more or less the fortunate one and went to live with his grandparents, but the increasing longing for his beloved mother caused Hank to run away from his grandparents and go live with his mother who at this time was employed as a housekeeper in Liverpool.

Shortly after this, Hank's mother re-married, and with his mother, Hank moved to a little fishing village 75 miles away as Lunenberg. Hank was practising with the guitar with a new record from Jimmie Rodgers. Working as fish plants, on boats, in the woods, as a newsboy, delivery boy, lobsterman, salesman. Within a few years, Hank Snow first landing a radio station on CHNS in Halifax, and eventually, in 1936, on the strength of his own self-promotion coming up with a recording contract with RCA's Canadian division, He was signed by Hugh Joseph and recorded two sides he had written, "Lonesome Blue Yodel" and "Prisoned Cowboy", as Hank, the Yodeling Ranger.

Hank Snow got married in 1936, his wife, Min, was working as a chocolate dipper at six dollars a week, and despite the recording contract and Hank's Canadian fame their son, Jimmie Rodgers Snow, was born in the charity ward of a Salvation Army hospital. Snow played his first engagement at the Gaiety Theater in Halifax, for three dollars a day, three performances, which was a dollar each. Make his first trip in 1944 to America to Philadelphia, where a fan of his, Jack Howard, had lined up two weeks' worth of personal appearances. In 1946, Hank Snow finally move to the United States and worked for radio station WWVA in Wheeling, West Virginia. It was at that point, perhaps because of his longtime fascination with western movies, that Hank, the Singing Ranger, found himself in Hollywood, a career decision which he still seems to view with a mixture of perplexity and disgust. Completely disgusted and discouraged in 1948, he let his band go and moved to Dallas, Texas. Besides, as always, he had his wife and son with him. It was in Texas that he finally met Ernest Tubb. It was Ernest Tubb who introduced Hank Snow to the Grand Ole Opry in 1950, just three years before they originated the annual Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Day celebration in Meridian, Mississippi.

In 1954 Hank Snow became a client of Colonel Tom Parker. On January 7, 1949, Hank Snow debuted on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, with the same lack of audience enthusiasm that Elvis Presley got in 1954. During the 1955 Hank Snow Jamboree tour, Colonel Tom Parker signed a contract with Elvis Presley, creating a conflict in which Snow threatened to sue Parker. Shrewdly, Parker forced Snow out of the picture when he unrealistically suggested they both pool all of their money to buy Elvis Presley's contract from Bob Neal. Elvis Presley, who was being managed by Bob Neal, had signed an agreement with Snow for the Jamboree tour. In early 1955 Snow unsuccessfully tried to persuade Steve Sholes of RCA Records to buy Elvis Presley's contract from Sam Phillips for $10,000. It was Hank Snow who introduced Elvis Presley during Elvis' appearance on the Grand Ole Opry on October 2, 1954. Hank Snow originally wrote and recorded in Chicago "I'm Movin' On" (RCA Victor 0328), which Elvis Presley recorded in January 1969 at American Recording Studios in Memphis. Hank Snow died on December 20, 1999.

JAMES RAE DENNY - James Rae Denney (he changed his last name to Denny) was a long-time manager of the Grand Ole Opry Artists Service who went on to become one of the most successful talent agents and song publishers in country music history. His skill as a promoter and developer of talent played a vital role in the growth of country music in the 1950s and early 1960s.

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

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

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

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

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

- Al Cunniff

OCTOBER 2-3, 1954 MIDNIGHT SATURDAY/SUNDAY

After the show Elvis Presley and the group wandered down the hill to 720 Commerce Street in Nashville, to the location of the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, where they were scheduled to play the famous Midnight Jamboree (the jamboree went on the air live from the record store at the conclusion of the Opry broadcast). Elvis Presley appeared on Ernest Tubb's radio program "Midnight Jamboree", the same night after he made his only appearance on the Grand Ole Opry.

Someone introduced Elvis Presley to Ernest Tubb, and Tubb, the most gracious and courteous of entertainers, listened patiently as the nineteen-year-old poured out his love for Tubb's music and told him that it was his real ambition to sing country music. He said,"They tell me if I'm going to make any money, though, I've got to sing. What should I do? I said, 'Elvis, you ever have any money? He said, 'No sir'. I said, 'Well, you just go ahead and do what they tell you to do. Make your money. Then you can do what you want to do", recalled Tubb.

Scotty Moore, Bobbie Moore, Evelyn and Bill Black drove back to Memphis that night. Sam Phillips wanted to listen to a piano player who had been recommended to him, so he got rooms at a motel for himself. Marion Keisker and Elvis Presley could spend the night in Nashville. Elvis went into the club with them to hear the piano player, but quickly turned around and went back outside. Marion Keisker followed after him and asked why he had left. He told her it wasn't the type of place his parents would want him to be. He told them to go ahead and have a good time. He would wait outside on the sidewalk. "It was unthinkable to him that everyone didn't love their parents - didn't want to do everything for their parents", says Marion Keisker.

OCTOBER 3, 1954 SUNDAY

Sam Phillips called Pappy Covington, the talent booker for the "Louisiana Hayride. They settled on a date less than two weeks away.

On the way back to Memphis, Elvis Presley took Marion Keisker's suitcase into a service station bathroom. Not until they got home did they realize they didn't have the suitcase. It took three or four days for them to retrieve the suitcase, which contained Elvis' entire wardrobe, from the service station.

OCTOBER 4, 1954 MONDAY

Elvis Presley's new single ''Good Rockin' Tonight'' / ''I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine'', officially released on September 25, was issued on October 4 in the Memphis area with a general release six weeks later, according to the Memphis Press-Scimitar.

Why Sam Phillips decided to wait another six weeks to release the record outside Memphis may have more than one explanation, one not necessarily excluding the other. The first single was still receiving a lot of action, spreading to new territories, and Sam might not have wanted to confuse anyone at this stage - disc jockeys, retailers, or consumers - with a new record. A second record might steal attention away from the record that was still growing. Another reason could be the financial burden of having to produce thousands of new records, put them into distribution, not knowing how many he would sell, and how many would be returned, while still having to keep chasing his money for the first record.

Either way, the record was initially well received and sold an impressive 4,000 copies in less than two weeks. The airplay and sales significant, but it was still primarily ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' that got the most plays. The trade papers showed action on the first single in New Orleans, Nashville, Walnut Ridge, Utica, and obviously, Memphis, where Sleepy-Eyed John had his protege charted at 1, 3, and 7 with ''That's All Right'', ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', and ''Good Rockin'' Tonight''.

OCTOBER 6, 1954 WEDNESDAY

Back in Memphis, Elvis Presley parked his car a block away from home, in front of a deserted, condemned building. He got out, slamming the door behind him and walked into the debris-strewn area. Elvis picked up a large board and suddenly began smashing it violently into the ground. He swung the board wildly until it was reduced to splinters.

That night, Elvis Presley performed for a combination "ladies night" and "fan club night" at the Eagle's Nest Club (9:00pm) in Memphis. Admission for the ladies was fifty cents. Sleepy-Eyed John Lepley gave Elvis Presley a rousing introduction, and mentioned his successful appearance on the "Grand Ole Opry". The disappointment over the "Opry" show had ended. Perhaps the "Opry" appearance was successful after all, Elvis Presley reasoned. His friends told him it was well received. It was at the Eagle's Nest that Elvis Presley received his warmest welcome. The crowd always clapped loudly when Elvis Presley sang "Good Rockin' Tonight".

OCTOBER 1954

The Perkins Brothers Band headed for Memphis. The office manager, Marion Keisker, apparently told them to go away but they met Sam Phillips on the street outside the Sun studio. Carl Perkins was impressed by Phillips' car and his matching suit and shirt.

For his part, Sam Phillips encountered someone whom he later described as "one of the greatest plough-hands in the world. There was no way Carl could hide that pure country in him. Although pure country", as Phillips noted, "can mean an awful lot of soul".

"Sam later said he felt sorry for me", recalled Perkins. "He said I looked like I would have died if he hadn't listened to me. And I might have. He said he liked "Turn Around" although he later said that he wasn't knocked out by anything else I did".

Sam Phillips remembers seeing more promise than fulfilment. "He was a tremendous honky tonk picker. He had this feel for pushing a song along that very few people had. I knew that Carl could rock and in fact he told me right from the start that he had been playing that music before Elvis came out on record. But I was so impressed with the pain and feeling in his country singing though, that I wanted to see whether this wasn't someone who could revolutionise the country end of the business. That didn't mean we weren't going to rock with Carl. That was inevitable because he had such rhythm in his natural style".

OCTOBER 8, 1954 FRIDAY

All that is generally known about this show comes from a Billboard item (October 23, 1954): "Presley, with his guitar and bassman, Scotty and Bill, made an appearance recently at Texas Bill Strength's nitery in Atlanta...". The article also mention Elvis' Grand Ole Opry and Louisiana Hayride appearances of October 2 and 16, and it infers that this show may have come between those two.

In October 1954, William T. Strength was a radio personality in Memphis, but earlier in the year he was a disc jockey at WEAS in Decatur, a suburb of Atlanta. WEAS, on Ponce de Leon Avenue, boasted that it was "Georgia's Most Powerful Independent Station - 10,000 watts at 1010". (The 1010 was the stations spot on the AM dial). Texas Bill owned the Silver Slipper, a roadhouse in Conley, which was little more than a wide spot on State Highway 42 south of Atlanta. The club was a quarter mile north of the General Depot, a huge Army complex The September 1954 Atlanta yellow pages advertised that the club offered dancing Friday and Saturday nights. Thus, if Elvis Presley played the Silver Slipper in October, as is believed, it could not have been on a Saturday because of his schedule. Also, October 8 is the only open Friday during this period. Unfortunately, thorough searches through the newspapers from Atlanta and vicinity have uncovered no trace Elvis Presley in the area at this time. Still this is one of the few Friday nights in this brief period for which Elvis is unaccounted.

OCTOBER 9, 1954 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley was back in Memphis to join Sleepy-Eyed John on stage at the Eagle's Nest Club (9:00pm) in Memphis. The performances at the Eagle's Nest, only a week after the "Opry" appearance, not only renewed Elvis' confidence, but this show confirmed "Good Rockin' Tonight's" popularity. Not only was the song receiving extensive local radio play, but record sales were excellent in Tennessee, Texas, and Florida. There were also early signs that Elvis Presley was much more than a local Memphis phenomenon. Billboard noted in its "Folk Talent & Tunes" column that Bob Neal of radio station WMPS in Memphis was organizing a tour with Elvis Presley, the Louvin Brothers, and Jim Ed and Maxine Brown.

The charts clearly indicate that ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' apparently was the more successful of Elvis’ first two songs. ''Kentucky'' not just hit the number 1 spot twice, but it also had a longer run in the chart altogether.

OCTOBER 12, 1954 TUESDAY

Between his Eagle's Nest performances, Elvis Presley appeared at the Whirlaway Club, located west at 3092 Lamar Avenue the same side of Eagle's Nest. Johnny and Jean Ogden owned this one of the hottest night spots in Memphis. The Whirlaway Club drew the Yuppie crowd, the Whirlaway crowd consisted of students at Southwestern college, young lawyers and a young businessmen and their degreed dates. Wanting to improve his lot in life, Elvis approached the Ogdens about playing the Whirlaway.

"We mostly played juke box music", Jean Ogden said, "but now and then we would have live music. We had been down to the Eagle's Neat to hear Elvis and we liked him, but when he came to us, we had to turn him down". "I told him, 'Elvis, honey, we love you and we love your music, but we just don't want the crowd you would bring in here".

OCTOBER 13, 1954 WEDNESDAY

It was ladies night again at the Eagle's Nest as Elvis performed in Memphis night club (9:00pm). Tillman Franks was managing Jimmy Lee and Country Johnny Mathis when they were regulars on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana. He wanted to book them elsewhere, but he needed a replacement.

Tillman Franks called the local red hot disc jockey, T. Tommy Coutrere at KCIJ and asked him how he could get in touch with "that nigger with the new records you've been playing". T. Tommy told Franks, "He ain't no nigger. He's a white boy". Franks was told to call Pappy Covington, who booked acts, and Pappy called Sam Phillips on a Wednesday asking the availability of Elvis Presley.

Three nights later, on October 16, 1954, Elvis Presley made his first Hayride appearance.

OCTOBER 14, 1954 THURSDAY

The Commercial Appeal October 14, 1954
PRESLEY TO SING ON RADIO SHOW SATURDAY NIGHT

Elvis Presley, our homegrown hillbilly singer, is continuing his swift, steady stride toward national prominence in the rural rhythm field. Latest honour to come his way is as guest performer with the Louisiana Hayride, to be broadcast Saturday night over KWKH, Shreveport.

Louisiana Hayride is about the second or third most popular hillbilly program on the air. The tops is Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, which never takes anyone but long-established stars in the country music field.

But Presley has already appeared on Grand Ole Opry - on October 2 - and neither customer nor fellow performers wanted him to quit. It is unprecedented for Grand Ole Opry to take a performer on the basis of a single record, which is what Presley had until two weeks ago.

Presley, 19, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Presley, 462 Alabama Street and was graduated from Humes High School in June, 1953. His first record release, for Sun Record Company of Memphis, backed "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" with "That's All Right", and sold a sturdy 6,300 discs in Memphis in less than three week.

His second record, released two weeks ago Monday in the Memphis market alone, has already logged an astonishing 4,000 copies of "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine" and "Good Rockin' Tonight". National distribution is expected to get the Presley name and fame really booming.

KWKH's Louisiana Hayride roster at the moment comprises Slim Whitman and band, Red Sovine and band, Johnny Horton, Jim Reeves and band, Elvis Presley, Jimmy Newman, Tibby Edwards, Jimmy and Johnny, Hoot and Curley, J.E. and Maxine Brown, Jerry and Dido Rowley, Jeanette Hicks, Betty Amos, the Circle 6 Ranch Boys, Ginny Wright, Carolyn Bradshaw, Jack Ford, Buddy Attaway and the Lump Lump Boys, with Bill Walker slated to join on the 20th.

OCTOBER 15, 1954 FRIDAY

Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black appeared again in Memphis at the Eagle's Nest Club (9:00pm). After the show the 3 men went to Shreveport, with Sam Phillips. Sam had arranged a try-out on the Louisiana Hayride. After a seven-hour drive, they checked in their hotel, the Captain Shreve Hotel.

OCTOBER 16, 1954 SATURDAY

Billboard, in the "Folk Talent & Tunes" column, reported that Bob Neal of radio station WMPS in Memphis was planning a fall tour with Elvis Presley, the Louvin Brothers, and Jim Ed and Maxine Brown. Bob Neal (Hopgood) was a local promoter of country acts, in addition to being one of Memphis' most popular disc jockey’s.

Two weeks after his disappointment at the Grand Ole Opry, Elvis Presley made his debut appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride" radio show, broadcast from the Shreveport, Louisiana, Municipal Auditorium over KWKH radio. More important, this broadcast broadened his market to encompass the area from Virginia to New Mexico and from Florida to Ohio. The show was also carried over 190 radio stations in thirteen states. Here he found encouragement.

Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and Sam Phillips loaded into two cars and drove, a good seven- or eight-hours ride from Memphis to Shreveport. They left Memphis after midnight and arrived about dawn. They missed the turnoff at Greenville, Mississippi, because Bill Black had everybody laughing so hard at one of his jokes, and then Scotty Moore almost hit a team of mules as they struggled to make up the time. Sam Phillips booked rooms at the Captain Shreve Hotel, the town's finest lodging.

They washed their faces quickly (waiting for Elvis, while he was combing his hair), and then they started their round through Shreveport's music scene. They met with T. Tommy Coutrerer, a local DJ at KCIJ Shreveport, who played Elvis' songs on his radio show. Tommy Coutrere was recently involved in a car accident and still recovering from his leg amputation. Undaunted, he cheered the boys with stories and promised to spread the message about their evening concert.

Next, they visited Pappy Covington, the grandfatherly booking agent and manager of the Hayride building. He gave the boys the feeling to be rising stars (what they were, as it turned out).

OCTOBER 16, 1954 SATURDAY

Sam Phillips stopped by Stan's Record Shop at 728 Texas Street, Shreveport, just around the corner from the auditorium, where they chatted with Stan Lewis, a prematurely white-haired twenty-seven-year-old veteran of the music business who had started out supplying five jukeboxes from the back of his parents' Italian grocery store for sale Elvis' records.

Stanley J. Lewis, born July 5, 1927, and on June 22, 1948 he purchased the J & M Record Shop Number 1 and opened Stan’s Record Shop. Over the next 37 years, the modest store grew into a record empire comprising six retail stores, a nationwide mail order and distributor service, and three record labels, Jewel, Paula, and Ronn.

In the 1950s, he developed a long-lasting friendship with Leonard Chess from Chicago. This resulted in Chess releasing records by Shreveport musicians, such as: Jimmy and Johnny, TV Slim, Lucky Clark, and (Stan’s Record Shop employee) Dale Hawkins of ''Susie Q'' fame.

In 1964, Lewis began releasing 45s on his own record label, Jewel. Soon thereafter, he founded two additional labels: Paula and Ronn. Over the next 20 years, Lewis’s labels issued over 1,000 releases. Those 45s, LPs, reel to reels, 8 tracks, cassettes, and compact discs shared some truly classic songs with the world. Perhaps the most well-known are Toussaint McCall’s ''Nothing Takes The Place Of You'' (Ronn 3, 1967) and John Fred And His Playboy Band's ''Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)'' (Paula 282, 1967).

Of those additional 998 releases, Lewis’s labels preserved in wax the sounds of many Shreveport/North Louisiana musicians including, Banny Price, Tom & The Cats, The Uniques, The In-Crowd, Nat Stuckey, Bill Bush, Five By Five, Family Tree, Rogue Show, The Bad Habits, Bobby Patterson, and Rev. Brady L. Blade.

At the same time, Lewis sustained the careers of many veteran rhythm and blues performers with releases by Jerry McCain, Peppermint Harris, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Ted Taylor, Little Johnny Taylor, Roscoe Robinson, and Fontella Bass. Then there's the nearly 400 gospel records by the likes of The Violinaires, The Brooklyn Allstars, Soul Stirrers, Rev. Willie Morganfield, Rev. Johnny “Hurricane” Jones, and Rev. C. L. Franklin (father of Aretha).

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE - Weekly variety program originating on KWKH Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. By the end of World War II, country music was enjoying an unprecedented international popularity. Record company sales soared to new heights, and more and more radio stations were broadcasting country music. By the fall of 1949, Billboard magazine estimated that there were no less than 650 radio stations which aired live country music. Changes in scheduling were made, and instead of restricting the broadcasting of country music to the early morning hours (as had been done in the early commercial years of country music), prime time was now partially devoted to this highly sailable commodity.

Among the barndance radio shows which were instituted during the postwar period was Shreveport's Louisiana Hayride, which proved to be one of the most significant offshoots of this country craze. Louisiana Hayride was first broadcast on April 3, 1948, and within a few months' time, Hank Williams had joined the program; he remained in its cast until the following June (singing his classic rendition of "Lovesick Blues" on his closing night). Over the years, Louisiana Hayride grew in prominence and boasted such national personalities in the entertainment field as Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, David Houston, Johnny and Jack, Webb Pierce, Elvis Presley, Jim Reeves, Red Sovine, Slim Whitman, Hank Williams, Faron Young, and many, many others. The basic different between Louisiana Hayride and the Grand Ole Opry was a substantial one. In principle, only established stars were invited on the Opry. The Hayride, on the other hand, welcomed newcomers and accented this policy to such an extent that it took on the subtitle "Cradle Of The Stars". As a result of this policy, the Hayride attracted budding young talent from across the nation and began turning out stars on a monthly basis. The Grand Ole Opry remained the "Palace" of country music, and most of the Hayride's early top talent left Shreveport to join the cast of Nashville's No. 1 country show. Many believe that had the Hayride developed the support services of recording studios, publishing houses, and booking agencies, Shreveport would have become what Nashville is today - the country music centre of the nation.

Another different between the Opry and the Hayride is that while the Opry was (and still is) essentially an informal stage presentation, the Hayride adhered to a produced format that fitted the broadcast requirements of KWKH, and was primarily a radio broadcast show. The first superstar of Louisiana Hayride was either Elvis Presley or Hank Williams. It remains an either-or proposition because Williams had been up and down the ladder of success, alternating between the Opry and the Hayride, each becoming disenchanted with the drinking habits of the now immortal star. Elvis Presley provided the key turning point in the history of the Hayride. He "exploded" on the Hayride stage with a hip-swiveling style of rock "n" roll that attracted thousands of teenagers to the Municipal Auditorium. For eighteen months they squealed, they stormed the stage, and they swooned. This uncountry-like conduct swept aside the old regulars, and even those who remained tried to adopt Elvis' mannerisms. As a result, the solid foundation of country music began to crumble, and the steady customers who came to hear Red Sovine and the Bailes Brothers drifted away. When Elvis Presley left behind the country and western music world, the old regulars had also disappeared.

Louisiana Hayride was aired every Saturday night until the early sixties when it was scheduled on a monthly basis. During the decade, performances were made by guest artists instead of a regular cast, and until 1974 the Hayride was a sporadic production. In 1974 Shreveport businessman David Kent and veteran Hayride master of ceremonies Frank Page put the show back on a full-time operating basis by building a $750,000 Auditorium- Restaurant complex in Bossier City, Louisiana - across the river from Shreveport, where it all began. The Saturday-night show is again aired on 50,000-watt KWKH radio. Although the old format has been retained, Louisiana Hayride is involved in publishing, recording, and artist management.

Elvis Presley first appeared on the "Louisiana Hayride" on October 16, 1954. He sang both sides of his first Sun Records release, "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky".

Several bootleg records exist of that first night's performance. Elvis was introduced by emcee Frank Page during the "Lucky Strike Guest Time" segment, which was devoted to new artists.

Because of audience reaction, Elvis, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black were asked back the following week. On November 6, shortly before their third appearance, Elvis, Scotty, and Bill signed a contract with KWKH station manager Horace L. Logan to appear every Saturday night on the "Hayride" for the next year.

The contract was witnessed by Vernon and Gladys Presley. Elvis was paid eighteen dollars for each performance; Scotty Moore and Bill Black were each paid twelve dollars. On September 8, 1955, Elvis signed a new contract with the "Hayride", to begin on November 12. Again, the contract was for one year. His pay was upgraded to $200 a night. Because of Elvis' growing popularity in early 1956, which caused him to miss many of the "Louisiana Hayride" broadcasts, he entered into an agreement to pay the "Hayride" $400 a night for each missed performance.

Elvis' one and only commercial for any product occurred on the November 6, 1954, broadcast of the "Louisiana Hayride". Elvis plugged a company called Southern Made Doughnuts, singing its jingle: "You can get 'em piping hot after four p.m., you can get 'em piping hot. Southern Made Doughnuts hit the spot, you can get 'em piping hot after four p.m.".

Reportedly, an acetate of that commercial exists. Elvis' final appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride" came on December 16, 1956. The performance, at the Louisiana Fairgrounds, was a benefit concert for the Shreveport YMCA. Close to ten thousand people attende.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME - For the next year and a half, Elvis Presley would drop by the Hayride almost every Saturday night. In early December, Elvis' swiftly rising popularity prompted Bob Strack (above) of KWKH to write Billboard (December 11, 1954) saying, "The hottest piece of merchandise on the station's "Louisiana Hayride" at the moment is Elvis Presley, the youngster with the hillbilly blues beat". In four more months, he would be the program's headline attraction.

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

The Auditorium doors opened at 7:00 p.m., and the Hayride was broadcast locally from 8:00 to 11:30 p.m. on KWKH radio. A portion of the show was also carried by 190 CBS radio network stations in thirteen states concentrated in the South and Southwest as part of "Saturday Night Country Style". In Memphis, the show was heard at different periods on either WREC or KWEM at 8:00 p.m. The regular roster for the Hayride included a blend of established country singers and rising stars with a few comedians mixed in for flavour.

Among the entertainers who appeared on the Hayride at this time were Slim Whitman, Johnny Horton, Jimmy Newman, Tibby Edwards, Jimmy and Johnny, Hoot and Curley, Jim Ed and Maxine Brown, and Betty Amos. The total budget for each Hayride show was $1,500.

A tall, skinny singer from Shreveport with a television show in Monroe sidled up to the new sensation, he was barely twenty himself and had been knocked out by Elvis Presley ever since hearing the first record at Jiffy Fowler's twin City Amusements, a jukebox operation in West Monroe. "I said, 'Hello, Elvis, my name is Merle Kilgore'. He turned around and said, 'Oh, you worked with Hank Williams'. I said, 'Yeah. He said, 'You wrote "More And More" (a number-one hit for Webb Pierce in the fall of 1954)''.

''I said, 'Yeah'. He said, 'I want to meet Tibby Edwards". It was the first thing he said to me. Tibby recorded for Mercury, and he was a star. I said, 'He's my buddy, we room together here in Shreveport". And I went and got Tibby and introduced him to Elvis. That's how we got to be friends". "I think he scared them a little", recalled Merle Kilgore. "He was really on the toes of his feet singing. I think they thought he was going to jump off the stage. But when he came back out, he destroyed them - by now they knew he wasn't going to jump off the stage and beat them, and they absolutely exploded".

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

When Elvis Presley arrived at the auditorium, he went backstage to meet with the announcer, Frank Page. D.J. Fontana, and others on the Hayride staff. Page gave him a rundown on how the show operated. "They knew how many people had become stars by being on the Hayride. I talked to Elvis. He was a little discouraged by the things that had happened so far, about being turned down by The Opry, about not getting kick-started like he wanted to be. I encouraged him and told him to just do his thing".

After the meeting, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and D.J. Fontana went to the dressing room so D.J. could listen to the records. They had never performed with a drummer and were looking forward to it, particularly after their reception at the Opry. D.J. listened to the songs, asking questions about what they wanted him to do, offering his ideas. "I figured the best thing for these guys was to stay out of the way", says D.J. "Why would I clutter it up with cymbals? I'll just play the back beat and stay out of their way. They already had the good sound".

That night, Frank Page introduced Elvis Presley and the Blue Moon Boys. With Elvis, Scotty, and Bill standing on stage in front of the backdrop, a thin curtain on which was painted a barn, a wagon, tress, and moss, Page tried to engage Elvis Presley in conversation.

LIVE BROADCAST RECORDINGS FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
FOR KWKH'S LOUISIANA HAYRIDE, SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA, 1954

MUNICIPAL AUDITORIUM, 705 GRAND AVENUE AND
MILAM STREET, SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA
OCTOBER 16, 1954 SATURDAY - VIEWING TIME TV-STATION KWKH
SESSION HOURS: 8:00-11:30 PM
PRODUCER - HORACE LOGAN

"NARRATIVE INTRODUCTION TO LOUISIANA HAYRIDE THEME - 0:35
COMMENTS BY FRANK PAGE
Recorded: - October 16, 1954
Released: - 1983
First appearance: - Louisiana Hayride (LP) 33rpm NR-8973 mono
LOUISIANA HAYRIDE
Reissued: - November 2011 MRS (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-1 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

The freewheeling atmosphere at the "Louisiana Hayride" was a tonic for Elvis Presley, and he gave his best performances on the show. When Elvis Presley appeared on his first "Hayride" broadcast, the master of ceremonies, Frank Page, remarked: "Just a few weeks ago a young man from Memphis, Tennessee, recorded a song on the Sun label; and, in just a matter of weeks, that record has skyrocketed up the charts. It's really doing well all over the country. He's only nineteen years old. He has a new, distinctive style - Elvis Presley". Let's give him a nice hand.... Elvis, how are you this evening? "Just fine, how are you, sir?". "You all geared up with your band-". "I'm all geared up!'. "To let us hear your songs?". After a smattering of applause, a nervous Elvis Presley remarked: "Uh, well, I'd like to say how happy we are to be out here.

It's a real honour for us to have- get a change to appear on the Louisiana Hayride. And we're going to do a song for you- You got anything else to say, sir?". "No, I'm ready". "We're gonna do a song for you we got on the Sun record, it goes something like this...". Elvis Presley quickly began singing "That's All Right", launching his career on the "Louisiana Hayride". Although everyone had been nervous about the debut show, the program format, the performances, and the music prompted the "Hayride" audience to explode with loud cheers.

"ELVIS INTRODUCED BY FRANK PAGE/ THAT'S ALL RIGHT" - B.M.I. - 2:59
Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - HPA5-6101
Recorded: - October 16, 1954
Released: - 1983
First appearance: - Louisiana Hayride (LP) 33rpm NR-8973-2 mono
LOUISIANA HAYRIDE
Reissued: - November 2011 MRS (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIEVES 1954-1956

"DIALOGUE" - 0:22
Narration of Elvis' early career Horace Logan interviewed Elvis.
Recorded: - October 16, 1954
Released: - 1983
First appearance: - Louisiana Hayride (LP) 33rpm NR-8973 mono
LOUISIANA HAYRIDE
Reissued: - November 2011 MRS (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-2 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIEVES 1954-1956

"BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY" - B.M.I. - 2:06
Composer: - Bill Monroe
Publisher: - Peer International Corporation - Fort Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - HPA5 6101
Recorded: - October 16, 1954
Released: - 1983
First appearance: - Louisiana Hayride (LP) 33rpm NR-8973-3 mono
LOUISIANA HAYRIDE
Reissued: - November 2011 MRS (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIEVES 1954-1956

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

During the performance, Frank Page had watched the audience with interest. "The audience was a little shocked", he later recalled. "Scotty's guitar, of course, was different and had a unique sound - one the audience was not quite ready for at the time".

"INTERVIEW WITH ELVIS PRESLEY AFTER HIS FINAL APPEARANCES"
Recorded: - October 16, 1954
Released: - 1979
First appearance: - Black Belt Records (LP) 33rpm LP-2 mono
THE FIRST YEAR - RECORDED LIVE

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

"I took him to the Hayride and Jack Stapp was over there", recalled Sam Phillips. "Jack Stapp who was the programme director. In the meantime, KWKH, The Louisiana Hayride, was calling and Pappy Covington, who was the director of the Artists Service Bureau in Shreveport, was calling, so was Horace Logan, the announcer on KWKH... I told Pappy, who was one of the sweetest guys I ever met, a fine old gentlemen''.

''I told him, 'Well, I'm takin' to Jim Denny at the Opry and I'm not puttin' you down, Pappy, but I would like to see Elvis on, not for what The Grand Ole Opry would necessarily do for him, but what maybe we could do for each other".

"I'd just like to prove somethin'... that this guy has got appeal, in my opion'. And when he stole that show... I mean he stole the goddamn show at Overton Park, and when you steal from Slim Whiteman, I mean, You're hot". "I'll never forget, when we were down on out first trip to the Hayride and we all stayed at The Captain Shreve Hotel there and we got up the next morning. We got a big double room because that was the cheapest way we could stay and then we had one smaller room... so basically we were all together there... And Elvis got up and it took him forever to comb his hair. I wanna tell you somethin', if they prepared the airplanes that you take off in every day like he did his hair before he went out the door, then you would never have to worry about it goin' down!".

"Every hair was examined thoroughly from every angle! And of course his hair got to be beautiful later on. But my hair was always natural wavy and I've always had a lot of it, and I could go take a bath and run the comb through it and let it dry... I didn't use Brilliantine, none of that crap. But anyway, we had a magnificent time".

Marshall E. Sehorn, co-owner of New Orleans' Sea Saint Recording Studio was told of the possible existence of Presley tapes in 1980. He brought it to the attention of his entertainment attorney friend, Jerry C. Wilson, of Atlanta. After three years of labour, travel, negotiations, persuasions, and with much credit to many others, they are delighted to present this fantastic piece of musical history to the world.

Unlike his cool reception at the Grand Ole Opry, Pappy Covington, a band leader himself, apparently asked Elvis Presley to join the Hayride almost immediately following his first performance. By October 20, the Memphis Press-Scimitar was announcing to their stunned home folk that Elvis was a regular. Covington also assured Elvis Presley that he would soon be heard over the portion of the show broadcast on CBS radio network.

Hereafter, when in Shreveport to appear on the Louisiana Hayride, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black stayed at the Al-Ida Motel, Highway 80 in Bossier City, across the Red River. Bossier City was a 24-hour-a-day strip of bars, honky tonks and cheap motels that catered to the servicemen from nearby Barksdale AFB.

After the show, Elvis and the boys often visited Harry's Bar-B-Q, a local eatery, where they joined other Hayride performers to play guitar and sing until dawn.

According to Scotty Moore, while the trio was in Shreveport, some play dates booked by Tillman Franks, a local agent, did not materialize, and the trio was stuck in the motel and could not pay their bill. Another agent, Pappy Covington, booked a couple of dates in east Texas for the group so that they could leave town

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

(Above) Elvis Presley and Horace Logan pose with disc jockey Ed Hamilton (centre) backstage at the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport (Photo probably December 15, 1956).

In October 1954 Logan introduced the teen-age Elvis Presley to America by saying "Ladies and gentlemen, you've never heard of this young man before, but one day you'll be able to tell your children and grandchildren you heard musical history made tonight''.

Frank Page: ''Horace Logan usually placed before the main attraction, but because Elvis was a stranger, I was asked if I accept the idea to introduce him. Very often we improvised our intros and this night was no exception. Had I known how famous would be these words, I would have been thinking about it. They were first printed in a Look magazine, later in hundreds of books and newspapers. Presumably, each radio station of the nation has a cassette of the event and would last but least recorded on 46 bootleg albums - from Taiwan to Timbuktu.

Elvis was noncommittal and polite. He didn’t wobble and gyrating, had not his famous smile, where you could see his teeth, and an occasional stuttering. Elvis sang both sides of the recording and started with "That's All Right''. It was a bluesy Beale Street song, which received wide acclaim. "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was ultimately a country song, although Bill Monroe it has never sung this way''.

On the first presentation of these recordings, you can hear that the sound engineers of the radio clearly cranked up the volume of the microphones, which were in the audience, as to get more applause. It was not a sensational start for the man who of the period of a few months was named "King of Rock And Roll", whose recordings turned into gold and each of his albums achieved platinum status.

Frank Page: ''Remember that I spoke this evening with Elvis backstage. I was interested in whether he was wherever he appeared, accepted since we had to make a decision about whether we should let him appear on the show. He said he would have occurred in some clubs in the area around Memphis and readily acknowledged that an older crowd was not too thrilled with him, but that it was the teenager who loved what he was doing. That I could understand. He was a handsome boy, dressed conservatively. Elvis brooded for a few weeks on the rejection, what he had learned on the Grand Ole Opry and had just decided to give up singing when he got the chance to perform on the Hayride. If we had rejected him, he might have given up. He told me that Jim Denny, who led the Opry talent office, told him he should get better drive trucks and that he would never make it as a singer. (J. Denny gainsay this remark).That discouraged the teenager. I told Elvis that he should not listen to such advice, try it and form his own opinion without listening to anyone other than to himself (this statement is controversial). We booked Elvis again for the show and on 6 November 1954, we offered him a one-year contract on our stage at Union Scale. That translated into the princely sum of 18$ per week for Elvis and 12$ each for Scotty and Bill. It was obvious that he could stand on his own and this offer of good, steady work afforded him the opportunity to hone his craft and gain valuable experience and exposure. Elvis was there where he wanted to be. Soon the young people came in droves, "bean shooters" - as we called them''.

On Elvis last appearance at the Louisiana Hayride, on 15 December 1956, there was a mass hysteria among female fans, who Horace Logan with the famous slogan "Please young people, Elvis has left the building, he has gotten in his car and driven away ..... Please take your seats“, tried to calm down.

Al Dvorin was the regular announcer for Elvis during the 1970's. He chose the slogan of Horace Logan and its version you can also hear on various live recordings: ''Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building. Thank you and goodnight''.

D.J. FONTANA - Elvis Presley's drummer from 1955 to 1969, born Dominic Joseph Fontana in Shreveport, Louisiana. D.J. originally start playing the drums when he was around 13 or 14 years old in high school, and clubs like that. Since beginning his career as staff drummer, in 1954 at the Louisiana Hayride, D.J. has played behind a host of big name stars, both on records and on the road. The list is endless and includes Webb Piers, Johnny Horton, George Jones, Lefty Frizzell, Claude King, Hank Thompson, Carl Perkins, Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Merle Travis, Jim Reeves, Gene Vincent, Dale Hawkins, Waylon Jennings, Narvel Felts, Dolly Parton, Ringo Star and Lynn Anderson.

Elvis Presley first met D.J. Fontana while appearing at the "Louisiana Hayride" on October 16, 1954. Fontana, the staff drummer, became the first person to play drums on the "Louisiana Hayride", dosing so behind a curtain. Previously he had played his Gretsch drums for radio station KWKH's (Shreveport, Louisiana) studio band. Popular opinion has it that Fontana was first heard on "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone", and then on other Sun recordings by Elvis Presley.

However, Fontana has stated that he did not play on any Elvis' Sun recordings.

The drummers on the Sun Records was Johnny Bernero and Jimmie Lott. Fontana, who played behind Elvis Presley on about forty-six recordings session between 1956 and 1968, left Elvis' band in 1969 to become a session musician in Nashville. He played drums on Ringo Starr's "Beaucoups Of Blues" album (The Jordaniares also appeared on the album). Fontana appeared in the 1957 movies "Loving You" and "Jailhouse Rock". He also played drums for a stripper in the 1975 movie Nashville. Fontana authored the book "D.J. Fontana Remembers Elvis:

"My association with Elvis Presley all started, I guess, when Tillman Franks of the Louisiana Hayride show in Shreveport called me one day and said, 'Listen to this boy's tape. He might want to use you on weekend'. I listened, I liked what I heard. Little did I know then this would start a twelve-year association with Elvis".

"When Elvis, Scotty Moore and Bill Black arrived in town that weekend, Scotty asked me into their dressing room and we talked about what we were going to do on stage. Scotty was like their road manager. We fiddled around back there about five or six minutes and I was ready".

"That first night on Hayride was quiet - your basic country music show. The people were older and they were there to watch Webb Pierce. They weren't prepared for a young boy running all over the stage. I think what happened is they all went home and told their kids about what they had seen and the kids began coming. The crowds got bigger and bigger each week through word of mouth".

"I started by playing weekends with Elvis, Scotty and Bill. Then they would go back to Memphis. They couldn't afford to take me back to Memphis with them, so I would wait and join them the next weekend. Once they offered me four dates in east Texas following the Hayride. We would be touring with Jim Ed Brown through Longview, Kilgore and Tyler. Tom Perryman was booking the shows. What started out to be four dates wound up being three or four weeks. After this tour, Scotty wanted to know if I would work for them if they got any jobs. I agreed. After all, I was making more money working one night a week with them on Hayride than I had been making all week in other places".

"We began touring a lot with Jim Ed Brown in east Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. We worked the Big D Jamboree in the Dallas area a couple of times. It was a package show, working with Hank Thompson, Webb Pierce and Faron Young and, when Tom Parker took over, Hank Snow. We were doing the warm-up acts for them, working thirty to forty minutes to warm up the crowds until the headliners came on".

"We didn't have much of a play list in those days. Elvis sang "That's All Right", a couple of Sam Cooke tunes, "Maybellene". He was twisting and shaking from the start and it didn't seem put on". We worked a couple of years constantly on the road. Little stuff. But each week things got hotter. We saw Parker two or three times along the way, but didn't know who he was at the time. He never really said anything. Later, I learned he was checking us out.".

"Life in those days was doing a gig, breaking down, packing the car, driving four hundred, five hundred miles to the next place and doing it all over again. The three of us split the driving while Elvis slept. He would take his turn driving in the morning. He was always filled with nervous energy. He was always playing the car radio, flipping from station to station to see if anyone was playing his records. And he loved to play games. He loved firecrackers even then. If he caught you asleep in the car, he would light one of them and you weren't sleeping much longer. He would throw cherry bombs at street signs. If musicians were following us in their cars to the next town, he would try to hit their cars with firecrackers and cherry bombs. He was just a big, overgrown kid. This never changed in him".

"We would drive into the next town. We had no reservations. We always tried to get the cheapest room we could get. We didn't have much money in those days. Until I joined the group, Elvis got the single room and Scotty and Bill shared the other room. When I came on board, I, being the newcomer, had to stay with Elvis. He would stay awake all nights, listening to the radio and talking until he was just too tired. Then he would fall asleep".

"After we did a show, Elvis was always really keyed up. After we had driven awhile toward the next gig, we would stop at one of those all-night diners. One of us would be assigned to take Elvis walking down the highway while the other two would go in and buy the burgers. We would try to wear him down, tire him out. The others would drive down the road and pick us up and as soon as Elvis would get in the back seat, he was asleep".

"We would drive into the next town between 8 and 10 a.m. He would sleep all day. We would awaken him, set up, then go out and eat about 5 or 6 p.m. Then we would go back to the motel and get him. Life in those early days was an endless string of nameless motels and restaurants, places like the Al-Ida in Bossier City, Louisiana. It was cheap. They knew Elvis there. And we would go over to Harry's Bar-B-Q after the Louisiana Hayride shows and sit and drink and talk".

"One night, after playing a San Antonio gig, we had a bunch of kids hanging around us in the motel. Elvis decided we should all go jump in the pool with our clothes on. It was long after the pool had closed at 10 p.m. The manager came and threatened to throw us out of the motel if we didn't get out of that pool right then and return to our rooms. We got out. Other bands in those days were known for tearing up motel rooms. we didn't want that reputation. In those days, in a lot of cheap motels, if you told them you were a musician they wouldn't give you a room".

"After Tom Parker came into the picture, things got regimented. We had a schedule thirty days in advance. We knew where we were going and what hotels we were staying in. We had phone numbers where we would be staying and playing. Even then, Elvis was up to his old pranks. It got to the point where every thirty miles or so he would want to stop or slow down and throw firecrackers or something".

"When Elvis was up, he would talk about a lot of things. He wanted to know how his records were doing. He would flip the radio dial to see if stations were playing his records. It concerned him to know how things were going. He was always planning changes in the act. He could control crowds well, even when he was young. If things were going slow, he knew what to do to liven things up a bit".

"Bill Black was a comedian at heart. He would slap that stand-up bass, jump up and down and tell hillbilly jokes like those, 'why did the chicken cross the roads' jokes. Once Parker took over the act, he put a stop to these antics. He told Bill to 'just play your bass, no more comedy. We're trying to sell my boy'. Bill had to back off".

"We were then making four hundred, five hundred dollars a week. In the early days, they each got an equal percentage from the gigs. When Parker took over, he put a stop to that.

Then, Elvis would get fifty percent and Scotty and Bill would split the other fifty percent. After they paid the expenses, they had little left. They walked out because of the money arrangements".

"In those days, they were booking any place that would take Elvis because they were trying to get his name out there. Like the Louisiana Hayride, for instance. I doubt they were making over a hundred dollars over there, but it was good for them because it gave them radio exposure all the way into Canada".

"The split took place while we were doing Seattle and Vancouver. Elvis asked if I were leaving too. I told him, 'You've always paid me what and when you said you would. Their differences are between you all'. Elvis offered Scotty and Bill more to stay and they did, on a day-to-day basis. At that point, he began paying me the same as they got".

"Elvis was funny in a way. His feelings were easily hurt. You had to feel him out sometimes and you had to let him know exactly what you meant when you did or said something. If you didn't, sometimes he would go home and worry about it until he figured it out for himself. He tended to take things too seriously when sometimes he shouldn't have. After twelve years, I quit. Sam Phillips had his studio going and I tried to get some session work there and in Nashville. The Jordanaires were staying busy. I told Tom Diskin why I was leaving". "A year later, Elvis was in town and I went over to explain to him why I had left to that I had two kids at home and I wanted to stay with them more; that I was doing a lot of sessions. Elvis told me, 'I had heard a lot of different stories. Now I understand. I don't blame you. If I could do it, I would do the same thing'".

"After that, I did one more gig with Elvis - the 1968 Singer Special. And after that, I visited him at Graceland maybe one or two times. He was always friendly when I visited. He was so proud of Graceland. He would always show me the house, what was new since I was there last. We would talk about the changes in his life and he told me it was no fun anymore; that he was surrounded by security and was afraid to get out of his own house. He wanted to go back to the good ol' days, like when we first started out". "Elvis had an uncanny memory. He could remember about all that had happened in those cities in the Sun years. He told me one time, 'I really get tired of being Elvis'".

Dominic Joseph Fontana died on June 13, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 87. At the time of his death, he was suffering from complications of a broken hip.

Bob Will's band had the first drummer to appear on the "Grand Ole Opry". He also played behind a curtain so that the audience wouldn't know he was there. Drums were not a welcome instrument to country music fans.

FLOYD CRAMER - Nashville session piano player, born in Samti, Louisiana, on October 27, 1933, who became well-known for his slip-note style of playing, which was taught to him by Don Robertson. In his youth, Cramer played piano, when he was thirteen years old, Cramer in high school. In 1951, Floyd Cramer moved to Shreveport, and worked for the Louisiana Hayride. In 1952, Cramer moved to Nashville, Tennessee as session piano player for many artists.

Cramer played as a session musician for numerous RCA artists including Elvis Presley, whom he had met on the "Louisiana Hayride". For two weeks in October 1955 Cramer appeared on the same bill as Elvis Presley on the Jamboree tour from Abilene, Texas, to St. Louis.

Floyd Cramer was married with Mary Kitchens. Floyd Cramer played piano on all Jim Reeves sessions for RCA. Floyd Cramer backed later Elvis Presley on all his Nashville recording sessions from January 1956 through January 1968, included the Elvis hits: "Heartbreak Hotel", "A Big Hunk O'Love", "It's Now Or Never", "Crying In The Chapel", "I Feel So Bad", "Little Sister", "Devil In Disguise", and "Love Letters".

In 1955, Floyd Cramer moved for good to Nashville, and worked for the Grand Ole Opry; worked with Marty Robbins on tour, and in 1960, Floyd Cramer recorded his first hit "Last Date" (RCA Victor 47-7775), reached at the Billboard Top 100 Country chart at number 2.

Floyd Cramer has always been able to sing notes (slip-note) with his fingers and phrase them with artistic soul, so by simply applying the Cramer technique to the songs he has create a truly magnificent piece of work. Floyd Cramer died at long cancer in Nashville, Tennessee on December 31, 1997 at the age of 65.

OCTOBER 16, 1954 SATURDAY

Issue of Billboard, there was a small item in Bill Sachs' "Folk Talent & Tunes" announcing that "Bob Neal of WMPS radio, Memphis, is planning fall tours with Elvis Presley, the Louvin Brothers, and J.E. and Maxine Brown".

At Scotty's urging Bob Neal has agreed to help set up shows in the Memphis area and the Mississippi-Arkansas region, within reach of the strong radio signal of his early-morning and noon shows.

(Above) Billboard, October 20, 1954. In spite of Elvis feeling by the Grand Ole Opry, Billboard's country charts following his October appearance showed that ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' was hot in Nashville's record stores and the local jukeboxes.

OCTOBER 16, 1954 SATURDAY

Issue of Billboard, there was a small item in Bill Sachs' "Folk Talent & Tunes" announcing that "Bob Neal of WMPS radio, Memphis, is planning fall tours with Elvis Presley, the Louvin Brothers, and J.E. and Maxine Brown".

At Scotty's urging Bob Neal has agreed to help set up shows in the Memphis area and the Mississippi-Arkansas region, within reach of the strong radio signal of his early-morning and noon shows.

OCTOBER 20, 1954 WEDNESDAY

Elvis Presley was back in Memphis for his regular ladies' night show at the Eagle's Nest in Memphis. Vernon, according to Elvis, took a somewhat less sanguine view. "My daddy had seen a lot of people who played guitars and stuff and didn't work, so he said: "You should make up your mind either about being an electrician or playing a guitar. I never saw a guitar player that was worth a damn".

After the show Elvis hung around Memphis, practised at Scotty's house, and basked in all the attention that was coming their way.

OCTOBER 20, 1954 WEDNESDAY

Memphis Press-Scimitar, October 20, 1954
Elvis Presley 'CLICKS'
Young Memphis Singer Now In Louisiana Show

Elvis Presley, Memphis' swiftly rising young hillbilly singing star is now a regular member of the Louisiana Hayride, broadcast each Saturday night over KWKH, Shreveport, La., and in part each third week over CBS, heard locally over WREC at 8 p.m.

The Hayride specializes in picking promising young rural rhythm talent - and it took just one guest appearance last Saturday for the young Memphian to become a regular. He had been heard about two weeks earlier on Grand Ole Opry from Nashville.

Presley was assured by a.m., "Pappy" Covington of the Hayride staff that he will be heard over the network portion of the show from his two jukebox hit records made for the Sun Record Company of Memphis.

AROUND THE HORN

Bob Neal, veteran country and western disc jockey of WMPS radio, Memphis, has taken over the personal management of Elvis Presley, 19-year-old country singer who in a few short months has catapulted to a top spot on Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport. Presley and his supporting team, Scotty Moore and Bill Black, plus J.E. and Maxine Brown and a Hayride show will appear in Clarksdale, Miss., January 12; Helena, Ark., January 13; and Booneville, Miss., Sheffield, Ala., Leachville, Ark., and Sikeston, Mo., the week of January 16. The following week the Presley unit will work a series of east Texas dates with Tom Perryman, of Gladewater, Tex. For the time being, Neal will continue his disc jockey chores at WMPS radio.

OCTOBER 22, 1954 FRIDAY

Additional, there was a lucrative concert market in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee. The "Louisiana Hayride" had its own booking agency and their agent, a.m., "Pappy" Covington, booked Elvis Presley in nearby small clubs and high school auditoriums.

One of Covington's first booking took two days of phone negotiations with Lois Brown, owner of the Cadillac Club on St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans. After lengthy haggling, Brown refused to pay the $150 "Hayride" booking fee. Instead, she hired the Everly Brothers for $75.

After more haggling with another promoter, Keith Rush, Covington was successful. For $75, Elvis Presley and the Blue Moon Boys would appear at "The Old Barn Dance" in New Orleans, showcased in two separate musical sets.

When Elvis Presley walked into "The Old Barn Dance", he was surprised by the sparse crowd of about seventy-five people; the small crowd jeopardized Elvis' future bookings in New Orleans. The dance had been poorly publicized, and Elvis' records were lust breaking in the area.

Given her choice of hiring a relatively unknown singer from Memphis for a hundred-fifty per night, or hiring the upstart Everly Brothers, New Orleans nightclub owner Lois Brown went for the Everly Brothers in a hurry, then later would tell friends, "I still regret it. Since that time (1954), we became very good friends". "Keith said he was a real hot number", she said. "well, we didn't take him. We took the Everly Brothers instead".

Two years later, Elvis Presley played to sell-out crowds at the Municipal Auditorium. All thirteen thousand seats sold out in a hurry. Mrs. Brown said Elvis Presley returned to New Orleans often to visit friends. "We would see him at least once a year", she said. "He was one of the nicest guys this side of heaven".

There were some high points during the week in Louisiana and Texas, however, as Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black made successful appearances at the "Old Texas Corral" in Houston, and at a KSIJ radio concert broadcast from Gladewater, Texas. These Texas appearances developed a solid following for Elvis Presley in Texas, where he experimented with new rhythm and blues tunes.

OCTOBER 22, 1954 SATURDAY

"Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was number 6 in Nashville and number 3 in New Orleans, according to Billboard's Country and Western Territorial chart for the week ending October 13th. This was the first time Elvis Presley had charted a song outside the Memphis area. Elvis Presley made his second appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride" in Shreveport.

OCTOBER 23, 1954 SATURDAY

Issue of Billboard placed "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" at number 6 in New Orleans and number 3 in Nashville. The Billboard Country and Western Territorial chart for the week ending October 13 reported, for the first time, that Sam Phillips' campaign to promote Elvis' music outside of Memphis was succeeding. Record wholesalers in Dallas, Houston, and New Orleans were on the phone to Sun requesting larger and larger shipments of Elvis' first single "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky". Sam Phillips credited Alta Hayes of Big State Distributors in Dallas with breaking Presley's record outside of Memphis. "She told me that his record was interesting and she thought she could sell it", Phillips confided. Sam Phillips, however, still had the same old problem. He didn't have the ready Cash to press more copies of Elvis' records.

OCTOBER 23, 1954 SATURDAY

Billboard announces that Elvis Presley with his guitar and bassman, Scotty and Bill, made an appearance recently at Texas Bill Strength's, The Silver Slipper Club, located on Highway 42 in Atlanta. No further evidence of this Atlanta gig has been found, which leads one to wonder if it may not have taken place in Memphis, where Strength, a brand-new disc jockey on KWEM who had only recently moved to the area, has just started performing and booking gigs.

OCTOBER 24, 1954 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black performed at the Lake Cliff Club in Shreveport, Louisiana with Hoot Rains and Curly Herndon. These two performers were regulars on the "Hayride" and the booking was designed to supplement Elvis' meagre performance guarantee. After nine days in Louisiana and Texas, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black had just enough money for the trip home to Memphis.

Elvis Presley was attracted to Hoot's pretty daughter, Mary Alice, but he was kind of nervous about asking Hoot, the steel guitar player on Slim Whitman's "Indian Love Call", for permission to take her out. The gig at the Lake Cliff turned into something of a joke. Hoot and Curley had been playing there for six years, and they had their following, but unfortunately their following hadn't been alerted to the fact that they wouldn't be playing at the Lake Cliff that night, and if they didn't throw things, they did practically everything but. By the end of the first set the club had just about emptied out, and it was, in Scotty Moore's assessment, "a complete bust".

At this Lake Cliff Club, the house had been packed when Elvis and the band started their set - and by the end, they were playing to a nearly deserted audience. The owner was so upset, he told them to skip their second set and clear out before they put him out of business for good.

Carl Perkins signed a contract for Sun Records on this day. The next day, Elvis Presley and his band appearing Eagle's Nest in Memphis.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Elvis Presley returned to Sleepy-Eyed John's Eagle's Nest Club in Memphis, where he shared the bill with Chuck Reed, Tiny Dixon, Herb Jeffries, and Sleepy Eyed John. The homecoming weekend was a powerful tonic for Elvis Presley. The crowds were larger than ever at the Eagle's Nest, and they cheered Elvis' every move. Elvis Presley sang "Blue Guitar" and probably "Uncle Pen". The reaction was positive and Sam Phillips realized that Elvis Presley was ready for concerts anywhere. His live act was perfected.

LIVE APPEARANCE FOR ELVIS PRESLEY

EAGLE'S NEST, 4090 LAMAR AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
OCTOBER 29, 1954 FRIDAY
SESSION HOURS: 9:00 PM

"BLUE GUITAR" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Earl Hooker - Written in 1954
Publisher: - Charly Records International Music
Recorded: - October 29, 1954 Probably

Elvis Presley sang "Blue Guitar" on the "Louisiana Hayride". It been speculated that Elvis Presley recorded the song while at Sun Records, but no tape has surfaced. Included in the 1955 folio "The Elvis Presley Album of Jukebox Favourites".

"THAT'S ALL RIGHT" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - Crudup Music
Recorded: - October 29, 1954 Probably

"BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Bill Monroe
Publisher: - Peer International Music
Recorded: - October 29, 1954 Probably

''SITTIN' ON TOP OF THE WORLD'' - B.M.I.
Composer: - Walter Vinson-Lonnie Chatman
Publisher: - Okeh Music
Recorded: October 29, 1954

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

The Memphis Press Scimitar headlined: "Elvis Presley CLICKS". The accompanying article broke the story about Elvis' contract as a "Louisiana Hayride" regular. "The Hayride" specializes in picking promising young rural rhythm talent", the Press Scimitar noted, "and it took just one guest appearance last Saturday for the young Memphian to become a regular".

This Friday night Bob Neal brought a visitor out to the club. Oscar Davis, known as the "Baron Of The Box Office", was a flamboyant fifty-year-old veteran of the vaudeville, carnival, and country circuits.

"I was in Memphis", recall Davis, "to cut my spots, the transcription for selling the show, at WMPS radio, and Bob Neal was the big disc-jockey there", Oscar says. "I had heard much about Elvis. I asked Bob if he had the Elvis records and he said he did. He played them for me. He said, 'I can't play them on this station because they're barred here'''.

Bob was playing sweet country, good-listening music, and Elvis was too raucous. Then he said, 'Incidentally, he's playing at the Airport Inn if you'd like to see him'. I said I'd be glad to. We went out to the airport and he just had two boys with him, a guitar player and a bass player. The place was full of women. It seated only around 60 people, but they were screamin' their heads off. I said, 'Bob, this guy is sensational. I'd like to meet him. Introduce me to him. He said, 'I can't. He hates my guts because I can't play his records. I said, 'Well, I'm going to meet him'. And I brought him over to the table. Now, Scotty Moore, the guitar player, was acting as the manager at that time. So we made a tentative deal and they were somewhat excited about getting me in the picture with them. We agreed to meet the following Sunday when Eddy Arnold would be in town and I would be back", says Davis.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

OCTOBER 30, 1954 SATURDAY

Elvis reportedly had a recording session at the studios of KWKH in Shreveport. He supposedly recorded "Always Late (With Your Kisses)", "Blue Guitar", "Give Me More More More (Of Your Kisses)", and "That's What You Gotta Watch". Although it was common practice for artists to use radio stations for recording purposes, there is no further substantiation for this story, but several musicians remembered that Elvis Presley taped. However, there was no Louisiana Hayride show on this date. The Hayride broadcast was pre-empted by the regional rivalry of the LSU-Mississippi State football game. Elvis Presley sang all of them in club dates, as they helped to fill out his live act, and it seems logical that he would use the time in the KWKH studio to further perfect these songs, and perhaps obtain a tape of them.

OCTOBER 30, 1954 SATURDAY

Rumours suggested Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black appeared at the Eagle's Nest Night Club in Memphis, Tennessee. Also on the bill Chuck Reed, Tiny Dixon, Hugh Jeffries, and Sleepy Eyed John. Dance from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

According to Bob Neal, ''When Oscar Davis came to town, I met with him for the advertising and promotion. Details taken care of, Oscar asked me: ''Is there a new kid here in town, Elton or something like that?''. You must mean Elvis Presley', I said. 'Yes, he's really something else! I put him on his first big show recently, and he stole the show'. Oscar Davis said, 'Someone told me about him. Is there anyplace that's he's playing?''. And I said, 'I believe he is appearing at a club in town. Let me check it out'. So it was that Helen my wife and I picket up David at his hotel and took him to the Eagle's Nest at Lamar. The Eagle's Nest got its name because it was on the upper level of a building overlooking the Clearpool swimming pool. We climbed the steps and entered to find a goodly crowd of patrons enjoying the music of the house combo, dancing on a small floor facing the raised stage. It was a young crowd seemingly intent on having a good time''.

''We found a table where we could watch the stage, settled into our seats, ordered drinks, and passed the time with a small talk. 'Hey there, Pudgy!' I glanced up to see the gaunt face of Sleepy-Eyed John, another Memphis disc jockey who did his shows on WHHM. John always referred to me by the name Pudgy, as in Uncle Pudgy, my imaginary counterpart on my shows. I introduced him to Oscar. Oscar has heard about Elvis, so Helen and I wanted him to see the real article in action''.

''Sleepy-Eyed John Lepley said, ''Well, he'll go on in about fifteen minutes, so just hold tight''. ''Soon, the combo was silent, and the musicians stepped off the stage. Then, I could see Scotty setting up his amplifier, and Bill brought the old stand-up bass on stage. With everything set, they retired to the wings. Sleepy-Eyed John shuffled onto the stage. He introduced himself to a patter of polite applause and told a couple of cornball jokes. By the way, my old friend Uncle Pudgy, Bob Neal is here tonight!'. He pointed at the dark area where we were sitting. There was a moderate applause, and I gave my best celebrity wave to the patrons. Now, we've got what you have been waiting for! Yes indeed, it's the one and only Hillbilly Cat, Elvis Presley''.

''Heavy applause and a few cheers. And Scotty and Bill moved onto the stage, picked up their instruments and started vamping the rhythm. Then Elvis, smiling one-sidedly, swaggered to the mike, guitar strap around his neck, and the guitar behind him, acknowledging the cheers. As the noise died down, he wiped imaginary sweat from his brow with the back of his right hand, leaned in close to the mike, and belched. And as the crowd roared, he swung into ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''. It was intense and primal, as he moved and gyrated to the beat, the right knee performing its own patterns, the head snapping back to toss the blonde hair out of his eyes. As each song ended, the cheers welled up in the dark room, and the beat would start once more''.

''There were blues songs, country songs, old favorites, ''Sitting On Top Of The World'', all leading up to the frenzied beat of ''That's All Right'', and then it was over to the roar of cheers, and life returned to normal''.

''Amazing! Simply Amazing', Oscar Davis shook his head. I've never seen anything like it''.

Moments later, pushing through the press of the audience, pats on the back, an occasional hug for a pretty girl, Elvis came and sat with us''. 'Hi, Mr. Neal, Mrs. Neal. Hope you enjoyed it'. 'It was great', we said simultaneously. I continued, 'Elvis, this is Oscar Davis. He's from Nashville, and he's bringing Eddy Arnold to town'. 'Please to meet you, Sir'. It’s all my pleasure, son. I have just never seen anything like your performances'''.

''Thanks a lot', Elvis murmured. Helen spoke, 'Why don't you make a record of ''Sitting On Top Of The World''? I've always liked that one, and you do it different'. Thank you, mam. Mr. Phillips is thinking about letting me record it', he smiled. In a few moments, Presley excused himself to drift from the table to table, chatting with the growing circle of admirers, and we left. During the ride back to Davis' hotel, he repeated over and over. 'I've seen a lot of performers and a lot of shows. But, never have I seen anything as exciting as this kid. He is going to be great''!

OCTOBER 31, 1954 SUNDAY

At 6:00 p.m. Elvis Presley walked up the familiar steps of the entrance to Ellis Auditorium. The Eddy Arnold show included Minnie Pearl, guitar virtuous Hank Garland, local hillbilly star Eddie Hill, and the singing group the Jordanaires, not to mention Robert Powers, the World's Smallest Hillbilly Singer.

The amp at the box office recognized him immediately and gave him the tickets that had been left in his name, and he attracted a good deal of attention himself sitting up front in his pink shirt and black pants and sharp white shoes.

Eddy Arnold sang, "Don't Rob Another Man's Castle", "I'll Hold You In My Heart", "Any Time", and "I Really Don't Want To Know", all in that effortlessly flowing voice, with the smooth quartet backing of the Jordanaires.

After the show was over, Bob Neal found Elvis Presley and took him backstage, where he wandered around the unfamiliar setting in a kind of daze. Oscar Davis came over and seemed genuinely pleased to see him; he introduced him to Eddy and to Hoyt Hawkins of the Jordanaires. Later that night, Oscar Davis, Elvis Presley, and Bob Neal go to a little coffee shop across the street and have a Coke or a cup of coffee. A heavy set man in a rumpled ready-made suit with a cigar stuck in his mouth eyed them briefly from across the room, then turned his attention elsewhere. "Who was that?", Elvis Presley asked Oscar as they exited the backstage area. "That", said Oscar, with a respectful but somewhat impatient gesture, "was Colonel Tom Parker".

"It was a rather cold day and around eleven o'clock in the morning they showed up", says Oscar Davis. "I steered them to the coffee shop across the street from the auditorium, not telling Colonel Parker anything about Elvis. I didn't want him to know about Presley. I was working for him. I was doing the exploitation for him. But I didn't want him to know. He said, 'Where you going?'. I couldn't say, I'm going nowhere', so I said, 'I'm going over to have a cup of coffee'. So Tom entered into the negotiations and the first thing he said was, 'Well, the guy will get nowhere on Sun Records. This is the first thing. And Jud Phillips, who is Sam Phillips' brother, said, 'Well, he's not going off Sun Records and that's for sure'. Because they were beginning to get a little action. So Tom brought up a lot of other objections to handling Elvis, and I proceeded almost at that time to be discouraged about the whole thing. We went back and we had a few arguments about Elvis, Tom and I. Finally I was riding with him, we were coming back to Nashville, and Roy Acuff called me up. He wanted me to exploit him and Kitty Wells as a package. So I proceeded to forget about Elvis. But the Colonel did not", says Oscar Davis.

According to Dixie Locke, "I was worried about Elvis. When he was gone, he stopped by the Chisca Hotel to visit Dewey while he did his radio show, and they played pool, sometimes they just watched dirty movies in Dewey's garage, and I knew that they went down on Beale, because he told me about meeting B.B. King and about some of the colourful clubs and club owners that he had run into. He told me he had meet Lowell Fulson at the Club Handy, and he sang some of Fulson's brand-new number "Reconsider Baby" for me. He described how Calvin Newborn did the splits while he was playing the guitar at the Flamingo Lounge".

UNKNOWN DATE LATE 1954

Tennessee and adjoining states. Billboard's cryptic method of reporting could confuse even the simplest facts. This came in to play in the following item (October 16, 1954): "Bob Neal, of WMPS radio, Memphis, is planning fall tours with Elvis Presley, the Louvin Brothers, and J.E. and Maxine Brown.

He is set with Johnny and Jack and Kitty Wells the last week of October, and has several November dates with Webb Pierce". One might assume that the "fall tours with Elvis Presley" would include the October appearances with Johnny and Jack, Kitty Wells and a November swing with Webb Pierce.

The "He" in the second sentence refers to Neal not Elvis. The Browns, an act that Elvis Presley did work with frequently, spent October and half of November of 1954 co-starring with Jim Reeves in California, Washington, Idoha, Colorado, Utah, and Canada.

Interestingly, there is an unsubstantiated claim that Elvis Presley was booked to perform with Webb Pierce in Memphis on November 25, 1954, but opted to take the gig at the Paladium in Houston, Texas. Unfortunately, the facts surrounding Elvis' Texas dates that week do not substantiate the sore. The Webb Pierce/Red Sovine/Texas Bill Strength tour in November 1954 also included Little Rock (6), Birmingham (13), Sheffield, AL (15), Ripley, MS (16) and Clarksdale, MS (17), all town Elvis Presley would play in 1955.

UNKNOWN DATE LATE 1954

An August 1992 article by Sherry Daniels in DISCoveries, a record collector's magazine, reports that she grew up in rural Texas (exact location not identified) and that her cousins saw Elvis Presley at the Cherry Springs Dance Hall. This sounds like the "friend of a friend" type story. There is a Cherry Spring located 10 miles north of Fredricksburg, which is between San Antonio and Abilene.

"He's right good", one fellow said. "He plays the devil's music", the other countered across the table. "How can you sit there and say that?". "He just does. The devil's music". They were arguing the merits of a young singer named Elvis Presley. The argument was taken place in the Fontana Cafe in San Antonio, Texas.

"It was probably the only time in thirty-five years in the restaurant business that I ever got curious over what I had overheard my customers say", said Mrs. Victoria Fontana. "I took twenty-five cents from the cash register, walked over to the jukebox and put it in. The song was "That's All Right". I punched its button and listened to it".

"I liked it. When it ended, I punched it again. After the third time, I said, 'This is it. He's got a voice! So I punched it two more times. From then on I was hooked". Little did she know this Elvis Presley, this new singer, had made it onto the Louisiana Hayride and there, needing a drummer, had hired D.J. Fontana. D.J. was Victoria's nephew. Little did she know she would soon be meeting this young man in whom she had just invested a quarter.

"D.J. arrived early in the morning with Elvis", she said of that first meeting in late 1954. "They had been driving all night. D.J. slipped Scotty, Bill and Elvis into the cafe. Sam (her late husband) called me and said they were there. I went over right away. They were eating spaghetti and meatballs, salad and garlic bread. Elvis was loving it. I took one look at him and said to myself, 'He's beautiful'. Oh, he ate so much he couldn't quit".

Later, in 1956, after an Elvis performance in San Antonio, Elvis Presley and his band escaped to the Fontana house to elude the fans - and to eat, of course. "They were tired and exhausted, but enthusiastic, all at the same time. They ate some more spaghetti and meatballs". Pence they played two shows in one day in San Antonio. Between shows they went to the Fontana home to fill their always-empty stomachs.

"I set up a buffet", said Victoria. "Elvis ate lasagna first, then spaghetti and meatballs, then a salad, then some more lasagna". And after a gig one night in Austin, Texas, they called Aunt Vickie and said they were hungry.

"Come on", she told D.J. "it will be ready when you get here". About one the next morning, they arrived at the Fontana home and within minutes an Italian feast disappeared. Elvis Presley, then touring with Lefty Frizzell, would stop at the Fontana Cafe one more time.

"They stopped in for spaghetti and meatballs, but he never came back again to the restaurant after that", she sighed. Aunt Vickie and her daughter, Eleanor, flew to New York to see D.J. (and Elvis, of course) on the Steve Allen TV Show. Spotting them, Elvis hollered, 'There's Fontana kinfolks'. Aunt Vickie remembers Elvis Presley in the Sun years as being 'quiet, a typical young man you would like to meet'. "My husband was not one who saw good in a lot of people, but in Elvis he saw it right away. God gave us Jesus in the first hundred years. In the last hundred years before 2000 A.D. He gave us Elvis... for love and peace".

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