ELVIS SUN 1954 (11)
November 1, 1954 to November 30, 1954

> Back Elvis Sun Schedule <

Live Broadcast Recordings for Elvis Presley, November 6, 1954 (Tape Lost)
Live Broadcast Recordings for Elvis Presley, November 13, 1954 (Tape Lost)

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 < 


Bob Neal, the radio WMPS disc jockey, called Elvis Presley in November 1954 and offered to manage him. (Scotty Moore, Presley's guitarist, was acting only as an interim manager to run interference for Elvis Presley, as discussed earlier). In addition to hosting a popular radio show, Neal owned a record store next door to the Warner Theater, as well as a booking agency - Memphis Promotions.

It was Neal's Memphis Promotions that had booked the talent for the Overton Park Shell show, and Neal believed that he could make Elvis Presley more money by managing him. When Bob Neal offered his professional management services, Elvis Presley readily accepted. It had been more than a month since Elvis Presley quit work at Crown Electric, and the management deal made him feel like a real part of show business.

The contract with Bob Neal was for one year, and signed on December 29, 1954. (At first, Elvis Presley agreed to it in principle only; he wanted to wait until January 1, 1955, to sign an official document. Elvis Presley reasoned that he needed a couple of months to work with Neal. If things didn't go well, Elvis Presley could refuse to sign the contract. In essence, Bob Neal was auditioning for the right to manage Presley). To promote Elvis Presley's career, an office was rented across the street from the Peabody Hotel, located 160 Union Avenue. From this office, Elvis Presley and Bob Neal concentrated upon new ways to promote Presley's career. The management agreement stipulated that Neal received a fifteen percent commission on all bookings. D.J. Fontana, the "Louisiana Hayride" drummer, had recently joined Elvis' group, and was paid a hundred dollars a week under the contract. The remainder of the money was divided between Elvis Presley (fifty percent) and Scotty Moore and Bill Black (twenty-five percent each). Scotty Moore and Bill Black were elated. They didn't mind helping with D.J. Fontana's salary. The music was the thing. Unfortunately, their elation was short-lived. That same month, after a conference with Elvis Presley, Bob Neal told them it had been decided that their old verbal agreement whereby Elvis received 50 percent and Scotty and Bill each received 25 percent, was no longer acceptable. "It became obvious this wasn't fair, because Elvis was the star, regardless of the fact they contributed largely to it", Neal explained to Jerry Hopkins. "So we had a crisis and I had to handle that, announcing to Scotty and Bill we were no longer going to operate like that, but that they would receive a fee we would all agree on".

Scotty Moore and Bill Black were devasted. It was the end of the Blue Moon Boys. They had begun with Elvis as partners. Now they were nothing more than salaried sidemen. They never had a written contract, so they didn't have a legal leg to stand on. They threatened to quit, in a quiet sort of way, but Bob Neal was adamant: take it or leave it. Scotty and Bill blamed it on Tom Parker, but Neal told them it was not Parker's doing, a story he has stuck to over the years. Despite Neal's protestations that it was not Parker - and evidence that the decision was indeed made by Elvis Presley - to this day Scotty refuses to believe Elvis would betray him.

Scotty Moore and Bill Black agreed to go on salary. Henceforth, they would receive weekly paycheck of $200 if they were working and $100 if they were not working. Says Scotty, "It looked like we would make at least as much as if we were bocking hats or making tires. It was a bird in the hand situation. That may not have been a recent salary for what we were doing, but at that time it was for the guy on the street. The problem was, the guy on the street didn't have all the responsibilities we had. We bought our own food and our own stage clothes, plus paid all the incidentals. Elvis didn't know about money. I think his father looked at it like the guy on the street. He was probably thinking: 'Those guys are making $200 a week. I never made over $30 or $50'. I can understand that mindset. But that still doesn't make the right".

Bob Neal was clearly uncomfortable about what happened, but he viewed it as part of his job. "My contract was with Elvis, not with Scotty and Bill", he explained later. "They weren't contracted to me, or to Sun".

It was Elvis Presley who convinced Bob Neal to open the office on 160 Union Avenue (now located Holiday Inn Convention Center) across the Peabody Hotel. Ronald Smith and Kenneth Herman indicated that Elvis Presley shared with them his ideas about the future, destroying the myth that Elvis Presley lacked a professional view of the music business. He realized the importance of promotion, and during his first few months with Sun Records he worked actively to publicize his career. Since Elvis Presley was playing in country and western clubs, it was only natural that the general thrust of his career was initially in this direction.


The music-press notice Elvis Presley on the Folk Talent & Tunes by Bill Sachs that read: R. Murray Nash associated with Acuff-Rose Publications, Nashville, the last four years, has severed connections with that firm as of November 1. Nash has had several propositions, all connected with the country and western music field, but hasn't made any definite plans as of this writing. Murray was formerly with RCA Victor and Mercury Records before becoming affiliated with Acuff-Rose.... Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee paid a surprise visit to the WLS "National Barn Dance" at the Eighth Street Theater, Chicago, November 6, and complimented the 30-year-old show and its cast, remarking that such folk music programs made America great. He said, too, that he was proud of his native State's "Grand Ole Opry", and commented on the fact that George D. Hay, founder of the "Opry", was an alumnus of the WLS program... Eddy Arnold and a coterie of country and western folk, including Minnie Pearl, Goldie Hill, Eddie Hill, the Jordanaires, Donna Dempsey, Robert Powers and the Plowboys, featuring Hank Garland and Roy Wiggins, played to three capacity houses at the Wells Theater, Norfolk, November 6, sponsored by WCMS.

The date was the conclusion of a 10-day tour for Arnold arranged by Colonel Tom Parker, of Jamboree Attractions, Madison, Tennessee.

Country music is becoming the biggest thing in entertainment today, with more fans than has pop music, says a feature article in the November issue of Town Journal on the phenomenal popularity of WSM's "Grand Ole Opry", heard in nearly 40 States over the CBS network every Saturday night. Featured in the story are Carl Smith, Goldie Hill, Eddie Hill, Roy Acuff, Hank Snow, Jim Denny, Minnie Pearl and other Nashville favourites... Elvis Presley, 19-year-old comer in the country and western field, who guested on KWKH's "Louisiana Hayride", October 16, and made such a hit that he was brought back a week later, has become a regular member of the "Hayride" forces, along with William Black and Winfred Moore. The three record for Sun Records. ...Billy Walker, off the "Hayride" line-up for several months, rejoins the show next Saturday (20). Walker has been working out of Sprinfield, Mo.


The Memphis ratings reported Elvis Presley's "Good Rockin' Tonight" number 3 on the survey. Two weeks later Elvis Presley had two songs on the chart: "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" at number 3 and "Good Rockin' Tonight" in the number 7 spot. Sam Phillips was promoting Elvis Presley's successfully in the country market, but he was also breaking Elvis' records in the rhythm and blues and rock and roll charts. Elvis Presley was a multi-talented performer, Billboard propounded, suggesting that Elvis' "style is both country and rhythm and blues, and he can appeal to pop". In stultifying syntax, Billboard concluded that Elvis Presley fir into all musical markets.


Elvis Presley without Scotty Moore and Bill Black perform at the Memphis State College's Student Government Association in Memphis, and was sponsoring a blood drive and needed an entertainer.

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

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


Sam Phillips of Sun Record Company letter to Philadelphia record distributor .

This letter from Sam Phillips to Gunter Hauer of Gotham Record Corporation in Philadelphia, PA is the one letter found which discusses both of Elvis’s first two Sun singles, citing all four songs.

After three paragraphs of standard business, Phillips lays out some golden words and chastises this distributor for not jumping on the bandwagon: “…In the past few months Sun has released a new artist who is creating a tremendous excitement in the C&W, R&B and pop ‘cat’ markets. His name is Elvis Presley, and we sent you samples on 209, his record of ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ and ‘That’s All Right.’ There has been big movement on the number in virtually every market and we regret that nothing has happened on it in your territory.

“We have just released a follow up, 210, ‘I Don’t Care If the Sun Don’t Shine’ and ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight.’ Billboard this week gave it the Spotlight Review, pointing out the triple potential of it.” And he closes with: “We know what this artist can do when given air play and promotion.”

This exact artifact was displayed at the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art's “Rock 'N Roll 1939-1959” exhibit in Paris, France in the summer and fall of 2007. The exhibit was a lavish affair, with a Grand Opening attended by Little Richard, Tina Turner, Wanda Jackson, Jerry Lieber of Lieber & Stoller, etc.


Elvis Presley only made one commercial during his life. It was for Southern Maid Donuts when he was on The Louisiana Hayride. Elvis performed the commercial on November 6, 1954. He sang the jingle ''You can get them piping hot after 4 P.M., you can get them piping hot, Southern Maid Donuts hits the spot, you can get them piping hot after 4 P.M''. Elvis frequented the Shreveport store for donuts on his visits to the Louisiana Hayride.



With only two singles out, Elvis Presley and his band is forced to rely on cover versions to expand their show. Tonight they include the Clovers "Fool, Fool, Fool", Roy Hamilton's "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry", and the blues and hillbilly standard "Sittin' On Top Of The World". The advertisement for this week's show lists Elvis fourth out of fourteen acts, behind Slim Whitman, Jim Reeves, and Jim Ed and Maxine Brown. Also guesting on this show were the duo of Jim Ed and Maxine Brown along with Willie Jones, "The Singing Emcee" of Corpus Christi's Texas Jamboree.

To cut expenses, the band began staying in the Al-Ida Motel in Bossier City, across the Red River from Shreveport, stopping in at Harry's Bar-B-Q many nights after the show to chow down on hamburgers and barbecue sandwiches.

Composer: - Walter Vinson-Lonnie Chatmon
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Okeh Music
Recorded: - November 6, 1954

Contemporary accounts that on this night Elvis Presley performed, among others, this song, either the old Delta blues or the pop standard of the same name.

Composer: - Bill Monroe*
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Peer International Music
Recorded: - November 6, 1954

Composer: - Ahmet Ertegun
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Warner-Chappell Music
Recorded: - November 6, 1954

Composer: - Joe Thomas-Howard Biggs
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Robert Mellin Limited
Recorded: - November 6, 1954

Recorded: - November 6, 1954

Tonight, as part of his expanded duties, Elvis Presley was given a short commercial ditty for Southern Donuts, which described them as "you can get 'em pipin' hot after 4 p.m., you can get 'em piping hot. Southern Maid Donuts hit the spot. You get 'em piping hot after 4 p.m".

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

Billboard, in its "Review Spotlight" section, called "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine"/"Good Rockin' Tonight" a "solid record that could easily break loose". Billboard reported that Colonel Thomas Parker, of Jamboree Attractions, had a signed a contract with Hank Snow to handle Snow's personal appearances. This move would have significant consequences on Elvis future career.

Elvis Presley signed a contract with the "Louisiana Hayride" which called for him to appear on the show for fifty-two consecutive Saturday nights between 8:00 and 11:00 p.m., whenever the International Broadcasting Corporation designated. He would be paid eighteen dollars a night, and Scotty and Bill would receive twelve dollars each. Vernon and Gladys Presley accompanied Elvis to Shreveport to sign the contract, and they all stayed at the Captain Shreve Hotel.

Elvis made his second appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride". As part of his duties as a regular performer, he sang a short commercial ditty for Southern Donuts which described them as "pippin' hot". Also guesting on the show was Willie Jones, "The Singing Emcee" of the "Texas Jamboree" in Corpus Christi. "He was nervous backstage. I don't believe Elvis ever thought he'd do a commercial", Ronald Smith suggested. "Elvis was trying to catch the attention of the local disc-jockey's", Smith concluded. It was not long before Presley's persistence paid off.


THE HAYRIDE CONTRACT - Just when Elvis Presley was offered a contract on the Hayride may not be known. However, the underlying reason for his parents visit to Shreveport on this date was to co-sign the contract as Elvis was only nineteen.

Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black signed a group contract with the International Broadcasting Corporation, represented by Horage Logan of KWKH radio. The I.B.C. controlled the Louisiana Hayride's national broadcast. The agreement called for the trio to appear on the show for 52 consecutive Saturday nights in Shreveport or wherever the I.B.C. designated. The contract allowed them to miss one Saturday night every three months after giving 15 days notice. Although there was no specific penalty as part of the written Hayride contract, Horace Logan has said that the fine for missing additional shows was double what an entertainer was normally paid per performance. For the term of this first year's contract, the trio would be paid basic union scale for a live performance: $18.00 for the band leader (Elvis) and $12.00 each for the musicians (Scotty and Bill). It is to say that this acceptance by the Hayride staff and his subsequent popularity with the hayride audience launched his career on a regional level in a way that would have been much more difficult, if not impossible, without the program.


Elvis Presley and Dewey Phillips visited the Variety Club at the Gayoso Hotel, located on Gayoso Avenue, Memphis. Dewey Phillips was a member of the Variety Club, Dewey knew a lot of show biz folks hung out in the Variety Club, and brought Elvis Presley in on quite a few nights hoping someone would invite Elvis to sing in his club or in his theater.

"He was a quiet, shy young man", recalls Vasser Slate, the bartender who is still mixing drinks at the Variety Club. "Dewey brought him in frequently.

Elvis was just trying to get started in those early days. He'd come in here, sometimes with Bill Black. He would sit at the piano and play and sing. He loved to imitate people. He did a wonderful imitation of Ray Charles for us many nights. He loved imitating Big Boy Crudup. He wasn't really a piano player, but he could pick out a tune".

"He'd drink a few Cokes - nothing but Cokes - and he would eat peanut butter sandwiches and go on his way. Now Dewey, he'd always put a little somethin' in his Coke. Elvis was like a lot of youngsters in those days. He liked to have a lot of good, clean fun", said Vasser Slate.


Elvis Presley interviewed for the Southern Donuts commercial spot. Unknown place.


Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black resigned from their respective jobs so that they could concentrate on their careers in music. This was an enormous act of faith on the part of both Scotty Moore, who had a wife and two children to support, and Bill Black, who was not only married and had a child, but who gave up a solid union job to follow Elvis.

Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black appeared probably in the Mint Club, Gladewater, Texas. A couple of folks down Gladewater way still hold fond memories of Elvis. One is E.L. Staggs, a print shop owner who printed posters and handbills for the Louisiana Hayride performers. One of his creditors was Elvis Presley, who had come into the shop to have some posters printed for an upcoming appearance in Gladewater, Texas.

"When I first saw him he had just really gotten going on the Hayride", said Staggs. "He was so different from the other singers. I said then 'I don't think he'll ever amount to anything". Elvis Presley printing bill for the Gladewater posters amounted to two dollars and fifty cents. Staggs has yet to be paid for them.


Billboard offered some clarity by reporting, "Early in December, they (the Browns) are slated to tour the South with the Louvin Brothers and Elvis Presley". This would be the trip that included the December 2 show in Helena, the only date confirmed so far. Other possibilities are North Little Rock, Cherry Valley and Leachville, Arkansas; Corinth and Luca, Mississippi; Bethel Springs, Tennessee; and any of the dozens of other small towns within a 150-mile radius of Memphis.

"I first met Elvis in 1954 in a little town called Bethel Springs, Tennessee, south of Jackson", says Carl Perkins. "I had heard "That's All Right", and I was playing a club there and heard he was playing at the schoolhouses down there, so we took off and went down to catch his show.

We'd stop at gas stations to fill our old cars with gas or buy whatever amount we could afford, and he'd just pile out of his car and shoot you with a water pistol or jump over the hood of his car. He was full of life - this boy, he made you feel good around him. Even back then, when people would laugh at his sideburns and his pink coat and call him sissy - he had a pretty hard road to go. In some areas, motorcycle gangs would come to the shows. They would come to get Elvis, but he never worried about it. He went right out and did his thing and before the show was over, they were standing in line to get his autograph, too", says Perkins.


Elvis Presley was voted the eight "Most Promising" Country and Western Vocalist in Billboard's annual disc jockey poll. (Others, in order, were Tommy Collins, Justin Tubb, Jimmy and Johnny, Maxine and Jim Ed Brown, Rita Robbins, Skeeter Bonn, Jimmy Newman, Elvis Presley, Willie Jackson, and Faron Young). "Good Rockin' Tonight" peaked at number 3 in Memphis for the week ending November 3rd, according to Billboard. Elvis made another appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride".

Elvis Presley and the group holed up at the Al-Ida Motel in Bossier City, across the river, and the girls started showing up almost as soon as they arrived, as if they sensed his presence. For a kid who had spent scarcely a night away from home in his nineteen years, it was like being away at summer camp: he had always loved flirting with the girls, he loved playing with them and teasing them, but now there was no one around to see that it didn't go too far. And they didn't seem too concerned about it either. In between shows at the auditorium he would peek out from behind the curtain, then, when he spotted someone that he liked, swagger over to the concession stand, place his arm over her shoulder, and drape his other arm around someone else, acting almost like he was drunk, even though everyone knew he didn't drink.

Elvis Presley with Merle Kilgore hang out at Murrell's cafe, on Market Street, opposite the Hayride offices. They would sit for hours sometimes, eating hamburgers and talking about music. "He reminded me of Hank Williams", said Merle, who was a fourteen-year-old had met Williams and whose admiration for his idol continued to know no bounds, "Something in his eyes. He's ask you a question, and his eyes would be asking you another question. It was that look. He'd wait for the answer, but his eyes would be asking the question. I'd only seen that in Hank and Elvis".




Elvis Presley made appearance on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, performing over the portion of the CBS-radio show. This is one of the few Hayride performances for which there is after-the-fact documentation. Billboard, from November 20, 1954, reports, "Elvis Presley... guested on KWKH's "Louisiana Hayride", October 16, and made such a hit that he was brought back a week later".

Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Wabash Music Corporation
Matrix number: None - Unissued
Recorded: - November 13, 1954

Composer: - Bill Monroe
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Peer Music
Matrix number: - None - Unissued
Recorded: - November 13, 1954

Composer: - Ahmet Ertegun
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Warner-Chappell Music
Matrix number: - None – Unissued
Recorded: - November 13, 1954

Composer: - Bob Shelton-Joe Shelton-Sit Robin
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Southern Music Publishing
Matrix number: - None – Unissued
Recorded: - November 13, 1954

As Elvis Presley prepared for his appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride", "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was still climbing on the Billboard Country and Western Territorial chart. There was also an increased demand for Elvis Presley in concert. In fact, as Elvis Presley came off stage after his show on the "Hayride", Horace Logan gleefully informed him that he to appear the next night.

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



During November and December 1954, Elvis Presley was very successful in the country music market. Bob Neal's role was to increase the number of Elvis' concert appearances, and to bring in lucrative bookings. Elvis Presley had discovered that he couldn't depend upon Sun Records for financial support. While the records were a commercial success, they didn't provide much ready cash.

The fact was demonstrated on November 15, 1954 when Sam Phillips gave Elvis Presley and received a check for $82,50 from Sun Records, which was probably a payment for an earlier recording session and an advance against future royalties. Sam Phillips presented the check to Elvis Presley when he brought Presley back into the studio for another recording session.


Elvis Presley, along with "Louisiana Hayride" artists Jimmy and Johnny, appeared in Memphis at the Eagle's Nest Club. Admission was one dollar for the show and dancing afterwards. Also advertised tonight were club regulars Tiny Dixon and Hugh Jeffries. In the audience was Tillman Franks, the manager of Jimmy and Johnny, and Biff Collie, a Houston country music promoter and discjockey on Houston's KNUZ radio. Both men would play a major role in developing Elvis Presley as a touring attraction in Texas.

The Eagle's Nest was packed with Elvis' fans, and the "Hayride" artists made numerous references to Presley's popularity. The energy that Elvis Presley displayed at the Eagle's Nest was evidence of his zeal for a record career.

Billboard magazine noted that "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was number five in Memphis and "Good Rockin' Tonight" number eight, while in a disc jockey poll Elvis Presley was named eighth Most Promising Country and Western Artist behind Tommy Collins, Justin Tibb, Jimmy and Johnny, the Browns, and Jimmy Newman, among others. Bob Neal announced his own third annual listeners' poll, which had Elvis Presley in tenth position behind such country stalwarts as Webb Pierce, Faron Young, Ray Price, Hank Snow, and Kitty Wells.


Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black performed for only thirty-two people on one show at the Nettleton High School, just outside Jonesboro, Arkansas, put on by Bob Neal.


"Elvis Pressley" (as the newspaper ad announced) appeared at the Johnny's Lake Cliff Club near Shreveport, Louisiana, a combination night club and "quickie" motel. Also listed for this show were Scotty Moore and Bill Black. Elvis would normally have been the guests of Hoot and Curley, who played the Lake Cliff on Friday nights. However, on this date they were booked across town at Mike's Ranch House. Scotty recalled that their Lake Cliff gig was "a complete bust", as the Friday crowd wasn't ready for rock 'n' roll.

Rains Hoot and Herndon Curley were former members of Slim Whitman's touring troupe in which Hoot played steel guitar. Like Whitman, they recorded for Imperial Records. Their latest single at this time was the novelty "Country Singing". The drummer for Hoot and Curley was Dominic Joseph (D.J.) Fontana, who was also the staff drummer on the Hayride. D.J. later recalled playing at least one show with Elvis Presley at the Lake Cliff before becoming his regular drummer. Whether this is that show is not known.

According to D.J. Fontana (Hayride staff drummer and occasion playing drums with Elvis until he joined the band in August 1955), ''We worked Shreveport one night. For years, I guess it still is, they had a country band there, Friday and Saturday night, cause I worked it regular. It was Hoot and Curley, you never heard of these guys. Hoot Raines... y'member Slim Whitman's records? Remember that steel that used to go éeeeee', well this was the cat that done all that, Hoot Raines, he was the one started all that high stuff. Anyway, we worked the club, and I've worked there before, and Friday and Saturday you couldn't stir 'em with a stick, that's how crowded it was''.

''Well stayed there... we got there, first hour and a half and it was packed, they thought their regular band was comin' on. We got up there, hooting and hollering and jumpin', and it thinned out sharply. Those people looked at us and said, 'That's not Hoot and Curley'. We finally got thru, there was five or six people left. Young people. And that was it. They weren't ready for it man. They never did book us back there again. Ruined the place. Nooo way! Get out! Wouldn't even let us stay in the motel''.

When the group came back to the Hayride that Saturday, November 20, the most important person to see was Hayride booker Pappy Covington. After the collapse of Tillman Franks' efforts to secure them gigs, Pappy had promised to see what he could do.


Billboard mentioned Elvis appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride" on October 16th and 23rd. The short article also mentioned that Elvis had signed a contract with the "Louisiana Hayride". Tonight's headliner was Billy Walker, one of the performers on the July 30 show in Memphis. In early 1955, Walker would be instrumental in launching Elvis' career as a touring artist in West Texas. There was also a list of the roster for the Hayride: Slim Whitman, Red Sovine, Johnny Horton, Jimmy Newman, Tibby and Maxine Brown, Jimmy and Dido, Rowly, Jeanette Hicks, Betty Amos, the Circle 6 Ranch Boys, Ginny Wright, Carolyn Bradshaw, Jack Ford, Buddy Attaway, and the Lump Lump Boys.

Later recollections by both Scotty Moore and Tom Perryman, a disc jockey in Gladewater, Texas, confirm that while the trio was staying in Shreveport, they were supposed to play some clubs in the area. These shows had been booked by Tillman Franks, manager of the KWKH Artist Service, which was the booking agency for the Hayride's performers. These promised bookings did not materialize. They ran short of money and were stuck in their motel unable to pay their bills for lodging, dry cleaners, or gasoline for the return trip to Memphis a.m., "Pappy" Covington, another promoter with the Hayride, arranged a couple of dates in East Texas for the group so that they could earn enough money to return to Memphis. Perryman remembers that it was Franks who called to set up the shows to help out the stranded musicians.

Billboard yearly disc jockey poll listed Elvis Presley as the eighth most promising country and western vocalist. What made Elvis' eighth-place finish astonishing was the fact that his second record came out only five days before the balloting ended. "That's All Right" was only a hit in Memphis, and this means the disc jockey’s voted for Elvis Presley on the basis of his reputation as a live performer and his very first recording. Sam Phillips had done an excellent job of publicizing Elvis Presley, because most of the artists that Elvis Presley was competing against in the Billboard poll were under contract to major record companies. As soon as "Good Rockin' Tonight" was released it jumped into the Memphis Top Ten. Immediately, one-stop record distributors throughout the South reported brisk sales of Elvis' second single. At WMPS radio, Bob Neal conducted his third annual poll of country and western artists; Elvis Presley ranked tenth.


It had long been thought that Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black made an appearance in Houston on the "Old Texas Corral". This is most likely the Texas Hayride, a regular Sunday afternoon gathering on the open outdoor stage at Magnolia Gardens in Houston. This is perhaps the only time in Elvis' career that he sang wearing short sleeves.

It is also likely that he performed in the evening at Cook's Hoedown Club, located at 602 Capitol Avenue. Apparently, he was a big success, as he was invited to play another club later in the week.

The reaction to Elvis Presley's Hoedown appearance was good, and he was held over "by popular demand" for two additional nights, but to Biff Collie, who have a partnership in the club, the nature of his act was about the same as what he had observed in Memphis. The repertoire was extremely limited, and Elvis was obviously just learning the ropes, though by now Biff Collie was beginning to see the light, even if he wasn't sure exactly why. "I said, don't you do any slow songs?'. He said, 'I don't... I don't... I like to do these things because they make me feel good, you know'. I said, 'Yeah, they like this stuff that you are doing pretty good, it seems like, but this rhythm and blues stuff is not going to stay forever. You really need to sing some slow songs'. His reaction was, 'I don't like... I don't... I just like to sing... You know, they make me feel good".

"That night after we were through we went across the street to Stuart's Drive Inn restaurant, and we sat down at a booth and ordered something, and I saw Sonny Stuart come through. His dad was the boss, and he was learning the business at the time. And I winked at him and said, 'Just for fun, get the girl upstairs on the PA to page Elvis Presley'. He said, 'How do you spell that?' And they did it three or four times over a period of fifteen minutes, and, obviously, nothing happened. Nothing at all. And I remember telling Elvis that night, 'One of these days you'll have to have somebody to keep you from getting run over'. And that was, again, it was not because of what he had done there. I just felt like something was going to happen".

MAGNOLIA GARDENS - Located at 1204 Beach Street, Houston, would become a frequent stopping place for Elvis Presley on Sunday afternoons following his performances at the Louisiana Hayride the night before. The Gardens was a open wooded area located south of San Jacinto Road in Magnolia Park. This park is across the Houston Ship Channell (at that time referred to as Buffalo Bayou) from the Port of Houston. In nice weather, the venue attracted a large crowd made up of teenage couples and families with children.

The stage at Magnolia Gardens was a bare-wall, open-front shed, with little or no sound system and nothing in the way of stage lighting. The Sunday afternoon hoe-downs Magnolia Gardens, Houston were a regular event, and there was no regular newspaper announcement.


Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black followed their Houston appearances by spending several days in Gladewater, Texas. According to Hal Long, he and Tom Perryman were on hand when Elvis Presley arrived in the morning on the bus.

Scotty Moore and Bill Black drove to Gladewater later in the day, probably in Scotty's wife's 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air. The first matter of business was to find a dry cleaners where Elvis could have his stage clothes cleaned and pressed.

Afterward, Elvis promoted his performance by singing on Perryman's radio show, "Hillbilly Hit Parade", that was broadcast locally from 10:05 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The studios of KSIJ were on the top floor of the Lee Building, located at 800 Broadway Avenue on US Highway 80-east. Elvis is remembered to have sung several songs while young women watched through the studio's large glass window.

"He was shake, rattle and rolling and we laughed", said Geraldine Mauldin. "We had never seen anything like that. He looked out at us. His face turned red and he quit playing. We embarrassed him".


Hal Long is certain that the first spot that Elvis Presley played in Gladewater was the Mint Club on the Tyler Highway, just one of several juke joints sitting on the edge of town. Tom Perryman remembers that tickets for the evening show were $1.00 a head. However, according to both Perryman and Long, the crowd was not overwhelming.

Perryman has said that he gave the band all the receipts plus money from his own pocket to make a total of $90.00 to help Elvis and the band pay their Shreveport bills and buy gas to get them back to Memphis.

Only adults could enter the Mint Club and the law was enforced strictly in this Bible-believin' town, Thus, robbed of a potential teenage audience, Elvis Presley played to a sparse crowd at the Mint.

Elvis signed a Indianapolis contract, included Scotty Moore, Bill Black and other musicians to appear on the Hank Snow Show on December 4-7, 1955. The contract is also signed by Colonel Tom Parker. The Hank Snow Show played at the Lyric Theater in Indianapolis. When Hank failed to make the first show due to bad weather, Elvis took over for him. Others on the bill included Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters and comedian Rod Brasfield, who was a regular on the Grand Ole Opry.

Knowing the trio was short on money, Perryman invited them to his house to eat. "I didn't know what to think", said Mrs. Perryman. "We had this little house and all of a sudden it was filled with people. Elvis was a little greasy looking, but I learned to like him. And he was always polite. He always called me Mrs. Perryman, and he always called Tom... Tom". "Elvis loved banana pudding, but he would eat almost anything", she said.

Elvis Presley had actually met Perryman in August 1954. In their initial conversation, Elvis told Perryman that he, Scotty and Bill were broke, couldn't pay their motel bill, get their clothes out of the cleaners or buy gasoline to back to Memphis.

"I had a friend, William Smith, who owned the Mint Club and I asked him if he'd give them the door and he take the bar if I brought them out", said Tom Perryman. "He said 'Come on'. We went by the radio station first, and plugged the show. We went out there and I think ninety dollars was all they took in. I normally got fifteen percent for my commission, but that night, I didn't take anything. I gave it all to them. And Elvis never forgot that".

Art Attaway remembers the Elvis concert in the Gladewater gym where Elvis Presley embarrassed a couple of girls after the show. "My friend and I had just started getting into music about then", said Attaway. "He was playing guitar and I was playing banjo. After the show, we went backstage to talk with Elvis. He didn't have security people surrounding him at the time. We were talking music with him, asking him how long it had taken him to get where he was, when these two girls started hanging around, and I don't think they were after him for his autograph! Elvis made an off-colour remark to them, like 'Spread your cheeks and smile at me'. They got offended and left".

"We asked him what key he played in and he laughed and said, 'Any key I can hit'. We walked him to that pink Cadillac and there was popcorn all over that car".

Art Attaway later saw Elvis Presley at the Rio Palm Isle Club near Longview, "became a fan of the first time I saw him", and remains a fan today. In addition, he has three daughters who, each Christmas, still receive Elvis-related gifts.

There is a persistent rumour in Gladewater that Elvis Presley also appeared at the Roundup Club on the Tyler Highway. No advertisements have been found, but this time-frame best fits the scenario. The Roundup was noted for its rough clientèle, and there are some local residents who feel that Elvis would never have ventured near the place. As will be seen, Elvis Presley did perform in other roadhouses with at least as bad a reputation.

Ralph Woods of Gladewater, steel guitarist in a local hillbilly band in the 1950s, recalls Elvis Presley dropping in almost nightly for a few days to sit in with the band. Woods says that at this time he was playing at a club owned by Gene Wortham. This club was later called the Roundup. The stage on which Elvis Presley performed at the Roundup is now on display at an antique store in Gladewater and still draws a few Elvis Tourists to the area.

Harold Brewer remembers Elvis Presley more for a kind-hearted gesture than what he did on stage in Gladewater. "We had this poor boy in town, James Aubrey. He was about six feet tall. They were so poor his mama cut his hair", said Brewer. "He didn't have the money to get in to see Elvis play. After the show, Elvis was going out the side door. He saw James Aubrey and he could see how poor he was. He put James Aubrey in his Cadillac and drove him down to the Shamrock Cafe and bought him a cheeseburger and a Coke, then brought him back up to the gymnasium. That always impressed me about Elvis". Harold Brewer said that Elvis Presley loved hanging out at Watts Grocery, whose motto was "We may doze, but we never close".

"He'd come in there every time he was in Gladewater and order three slices of baloney and a box of crackers and he'd go over and stand in the corner and eat and never say a word to anybody. He never drank. One day he came running into Watts Grocery and told them to hurry it up, he needed a whole stick of baloney - now! There were these girls chasing after him and he was trying to get rid of them. They gave him the stick and he ran to the door, hung the stick between his legs and hollered, 'Hey girls', and began waving that stick back and forth. That chased them away. That's funny, because my daddy always said Elvis wore a sausage in his pants on stage".

"He never gave nobody no trouble", said Brewer. "He liked to eat down at the Shamrock Cafe and sometimes they's stay at the Gladewater Resort Motel for six dollars a night and share a room; sometimes Room 104".

(Above) The Mint Club, located at 2585 South Tyler Road, Gladewater, Texas, was bought by a preacher sometime after 1995 with the intension into a church. He moved it almost directly across the highway from its original location, but turned the building perpenducular to the highway. Church service in the old building didn't last long and the building was never fully restored.

THE MINT CLUB - Hal Long vividly recalls that the Mint was "a juke joint, a hole in the wall". It was an old green building at this time, locally referred to as the "Green Hut". There was a small area, which might hold fifty people, toward the front of the building for dancing with a bar off to the left.

The one feature of the Mint that distinguished it from the halfdozen other roadhouses near Gladewater was the canvas canopy leading out from the front door and covering the driveway. The original Mint Club burned to the ground sometime later, only to be replaced by a similar structure.

Gladewater was a small town located in the center of east Texas, a strongly religious section of the country. According to Janice Welton of Gladewater, the Mint was one of the several honky tonks just outside the city limits. Patrons had to be twenty-one years of age to enter, so there were not many teenagers who were aware of Elvis' early shows in Gladewater. She remembers that "Elvis Presley was considered by many families to be unacceptable for children to see".


Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black may have played New Boston, a small east Texas town near Texarkana. There are no advertisements for any performance in New Boston, but he definitely appeared at least once here. According to Cash Box, December 11, Elvis Presley appears on the bill with Johnny Horton and Tibby Edwards at Municipal Auditorium, Texarkana, Arkansas on this day.

A group of college kids from Texarkana had already checked out Elvis debut in Shreveport. They had been really excited and spread the rumour about this upcoming new artist.

KOSY disc jockey Jim Le Fan may not have needed any encouragement to bring in Elvis when Pappy Covington called him, as he already played Elvis' records on his popular radio show, and he had a perfect avenue for testing new talent on the weekly shows he arranged in the auditorium on Thursdays and Fridays. By not having his shows on Saturdays, he made it possible for Hayride artists to drop by Texarkana on their weekly tours around the area.


For the beginning of Thanksgiving weekend, Elvis Presley was booked for three days to play the Paladium Club, 8100 South Main in Houston, Texas (the name of the club was apparently misspelled intentionally).

The club was located at 1600 Old Spanish Trail at South Main. His performance was originally scheduled for only November 25, but he was held over two additional nights.

The story is that Houston disc jockey Biff Collie at KNUZ radio certainly honoured his offer of work. After he had seen Elvis up in Memphis the week before, he contacted local Houston booker and club owner Tony Sepolio and asked him to get Elvis and his band for his Hoedown Jamboree Saturday night show at the Eagles' Hall in downtown Houston. Tony had done even better idea than that, by adding three nights at his own club, the Paladium, picking up from the Texarkana gig. Just a few weeks into his Hayride contract, Elvis used the clause in the contract permitting him to go elsewhere on Saturday every month.

According to Tony Sepolio, ''I had a booking agency and a record company. Biff Collie had asked me to bring Elvis Presley for his Saturday night show. I decided to have him come to my club, the Paladium, on South Main, and booked him for three nights at 40 dollars per night. It was a huge thing, 2200 chairs, no air-condition, we had fans along the wall. He was a handsome young man. In those days, right next to the register, on the back of the bandstand, there was a big room, where I had all these cases of beer, and that's where Elvis would change before and after the show. He sat back there with his hands covering his face. And my wife would be at the cash register, and the girls would come up and ask, ''Hey, where is Elvis!''. And he said to her, ''Don't want to talk to them''. He would just sit back there contemplating. I thought he was a very smart boy. He just wore dress pants and a shirt. He didn't wear those country outfits. The paladium normally had some people on Thursday and Friday night and 200 on Saturday night. But I believe we probably had about 200 the first two nights and 400 on Saturday. He didn't play the whole event; he was what we called a guest artist. He only put on a 200minute show. He could play at my place at 9:30, and he could go down and play at the ''Hillbilly Chapel'' at the auditorium (Eagles' Hall)''.


The Saturday Hoedown Jamboree at Eagles Hall was done in conjunction with radio station KNUZ. That night another new, rising talent was on the bill, second to Elvis and Biff Collie, as George Jones played one of his regular gigs for KNUZ.

According to Fred Goree played in the Paladium house band in 1954, ''None of use had ever heard of Elvis. At that place, they had a guest star coming in''.

''I was standing up there with my steel guitar, and a bunch of people were gathering around the bandstand, and one of them asked, 'Where is Elvis?'. And I said, Í don't know. Elvis must be the guest star coming to be here with us tonight'. We stayed on the bandstand and played behind him. We didn't play that much''.

The shyness noted by Tony Sepolio is not what teenage girls Jo Ann French and her friend Kouida Experienced. Jo Ann remembers, ''My best friend's mother and stepfather owned a cafe/beer bar in Highlands just east of Houston in the middle of ''Urban Cowboy'' land. The jukebox man that serviced their establishment was, I suppose, at the direction of Sun Records, promoting this new talent, now featured on the Louisiana Hayride, and installed what was to be the beginning of a new era on our jukebox''.

''We could not believe our ears when we put our money in that box. Just his voice melted un into little puddles, and we did not yet know how handsome he was, but we decided he must be as beautiful as the voice. These were the early recordings of ''That's All Right'' and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''. Then the jukebox man tells us this guy is going to be appearing at the Paladium, a huge dance hall in Houston, and of course, at the ripe old ages of 16 and 17, we could not get in without an adult. So we embarked upon a campaign of pressure on my friend's mother and off we went. He was everything we ever dreamed of. He had on a pink and black vest, and Scotty and Bill wore western style shirts and slacks. We were on our feet as soon as he started to sing, and we got ourselves up as close to the bandstand as we could get. He sang ''That's All Right'' and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', and maybe ''Fool, Fool, Fool''. Kouida remembers how he would just go so smoothly and sweetly into a gospel song without warning. I especially remember ''Amazing Grace'', which he sang a cappella. He also spotted us, and lo and behold, we got him to out table during breaks, where we chatted, giggled, and I can't even remember what else. He signed cocktail napkins for us with little massages''.

''The first night, I know her mother had to go with us to get us in and neither of us can remember how we got in the second night. I think we still had our hand stamped from the previous night''.

''Anyway, after the show that night, Elvis invited us to go out for a sandwich with himself, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black, and there was no way my friend's mother could deny us this adventure. We were to meet her back at the Paladium parking lot following our ''outing''. When we went out to the old gold and white Chevrolet sedan with Sun Records magnetic signs on each side, and Elvis opened the door, he said, 'Ok, girls, who is going to get in back with me''? She said, 'Me''! and shot into that car before I could grab her by the hair of the head. However, Bill decided he would go on back to the motel and let the four of us go out. We went to the South Main Drive-in, just down the street from the Paladium. My friend and I scooted into one of those round booths with Scotty on my end and Elvis on hers. Elvis ordered a fried egg sandwich, 'and fry that eggs hard as a brick', he said, and an ice cream soda. We talked, flirted with Elvis, played records on those little jukeboxes we used to have in the booths. Elvis and Scotty made lots of fun of Pat Boone, who had a terrible voice we thought. Elvis would point out every time he hit a flat note. We went back to the Paladium, where Kouida and Elvis did a little huggin' and kissin', while I sat there and wished Bill Black had come along instead of Scotty. My friend's mom arrived and that was the end of that episode''.

According to Biff Collie, ''I got mail, i got requests. The Hoedown, my nighttime radio show at KNUZ, was getting 200-250 pieces of mail a day. I was probably getting 15-20 pieces of mail for ''That's All Right'', but that wasn't the most. I was getting 30-40-50 pieces of mail for things like ''Lovesick Blues'' (Hank Williams).

The first night Elvis, Scotty and Bill came, he did the numbers, the shake, the wiggle, the hip thing, and the girls went crazy. We didn't have a big crowd, but they were very vocal, and he was an animated performer. If I hadn't liked him at all, I would have been impressed professionally, because the people reacted vehemently''.

Lloyd C. Bowen said, ''The first time I remember was a Cook's Hoedown, and he was playing the breaks for another band of the time. This gave him lots of time to visit with the customers and sell pictures. I believe all of his early appearances in Houston were arranged by KNUZ disc jockey Biff Collie. Biff played his records a lot and got him all sorts of jobs in Houston. I played bass and rhythm guitar and had a band in 1954 called ''The Piney Woods Playboys'', so to some extent I was competition then. I was sitting with my friend, and fellow bass man, Wayne Keno one night, when Elvis came to sell pictures and talk. My grandmother was the pastor of the Irvington Pentecostal Church in Houston, and some gospel group was appearing the next day, and Elvis was aware of this and asked if I could get him in. I called my grandmother and told her I wanted to attend and bring a friend. She was overjoyed that I would come and didn't ask anything about my friend (I didn't attend her church very often). I picked him up the next day at a motel, I don't remember which one, and took him to the concert. No one recognized him, although several knew me''.


Elvis Presley sends an Western Union Money Order Message to his father Vernon Presley. The address on the telegram shows the Presley's address at 462 Alabama Street, Memphis, Tennessee with the following message: "Hi babies, here's the money to pay the bills. Don't tell no one how much I sent I will send more next week. There is a card in the mail. Love Elvis". This telegram was sent the day after Elvis Presley had performed at the Houston Hoedown on November 21, 1954.


After a week in East Texas, Elvis Presley returned to Shreveport for another appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride".

Later this evening, he returned to the Paladium Club in Houston for one more evening of entertainment. Elvis Presley was booked on a swing through Arkansas, Mississippi, and probably Tennessee with Jim Ed and Maxine Brown and the Louvin Brothers. This tour most likely began on November 29, and continued - with Saturdays off to play the Hayride - for two weeks.

Elvis stopped working for Crown Electric in November because his increasing popularity was demanding more and more of his time. Among the places that Elvis Presley and his band played late in 1954 were Sweetwater, Lufkin, Longview, Boston, and Odessa, all in Texas.


Elvis Presley had been booked for two shows at the South Hall of Ellis Auditorium in Memphis with Opry star Kitty Wells, Sonny James, and once again Jimmy and Johnny. Even KWEM's disc jockey Texas Bill Strenght was slated to appear. The show is hosted by prominent Memphis disc jockeys Bob Neal and Sleepy-Eyed John, but Elvis is unable to get back from Houston in time.

North Little Rock was almost certainly one of the stops for Elvis, the Browns and the Louvin  Brothers. The only clue comes in a Billboard item (January 8, 1955, on the Browns) that  mentions they were "Recently" guests on Cottonseed Jones' KXRL radio program in North  Little Rock. The timing of the item certainly points to North Little Rock being included in the  two-week tour.
Charlie Louvin said, "Country people didn't exactly know what he was doing. Ira thought  his music was a little too close to black and he told him so. Ira called him 'a white nigger''.
''I  would imagine that that statement probably cost the Louvin Brothers' music catalog a  couple million dollars, 'cause Elvis was on record saying the Louvin Brothers were his  favorite country singers. He got that from his mother. It was a bad thing, but there was no  way I could control (Ira)", Charlie said. "Jack Daniel's controlled him". 
Early December, Bob Neal booked Elvis on a short tour of school house Auditoriums and  Gymnasiums in Arkansas, including St. Helena, North Little Rock and Texarkana, and  Mississippi. Also sharing the bill were Jim Ed and Maxine Brown and the Louvin Brothers.
On one afternoon early December 1954, at a country bar in Mississippi, Elvis Presley  cozied up to a woman who brazenly brushed his thigh with her fingertips under the table.  He was fired up, but she teased him by wanting to finish her drink before leaving. Like a  lot of women he met, she was attracted to the performer, with little interest in the man.  Elvis resented it, even if he was using them in a similar way - but not enough to walk  away. He'd get even later when they were alone.
She finally finished her drink, and as they got up to leave, an irate man grabbed her from  behind and spun her around. When Elvis Presley reached out for her, the man reared back  and took a swing at Elvis. "You son of a bitch, keep your filthy hands off my wife". Elvis  Presley ducked and the punch grazed the side of his head. The man plowed into Elvis and  they went flying over the tables, arms flying about wildly, trying to land a blow. A crowd  formed, urging them on, drowning out the pleading screams of the owner to stop. A  bouncer finally pulled them apart and pulled Elvis to a far corner.
The bouncer poked him in the chest. "Ain't right to fool with Jimmy's wife". "How was I  s'posed to know she was married? She came on t'me, rubbin' me up with her hand", Elvis  said. The bouncer shook his head. "I guess we'll let the sheriff figure it out". Elvis was  familiar with country justice and knew he was beat. He reached in his pocket but only had  a few dollars. "I'll pay, if can call someone. I don' want no hard feelin's. I really didn' know  she was married".
After his performance that night, Elvis insisted they leave for home right away. He was not  interested in staying one more night in the Mississippi area, half afraid the husband would  come gunning for him. He was finding out the hard way that fame and notoriety had some  down sides, and you had to be careful of angry boyfriends, jealous husbands, or plucky  red-necks who'd love to prove you weren't anything special and bring you down a notch.  Even among acquaintances back home, he sensed that very few people seemed genuinely happy for him. Instead, they seemed poised for him to fail. It was hard to completely  enjoy any measure of success when you're always looking over your shoulder. The only  people he trusted, other than his family and friends, were his audience.

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