NOVEMBER 25-27, 1954 THURSDAY-FRIDAY
For the beginning of Thanksgiving weekend, Elvis Presley
was booked for three days to play the Paladium Club, 8100 South Main in Houston, Texas (the name of the club was apparently misspelled intentionally).
The club was located
at 1600 Old Spanish Trail at South Main. His performance was originally scheduled for only November 25, but he was held over two additional nights.
The story is that
Houston disc jockey Biff Collie at KNUZ radio certainly honoured his offer of work. After he had seen Elvis up in Memphis the week before, he contacted local Houston booker and club owner Tony Sepolio and asked him to get Elvis and his band for his Hoedown
Jamboree Saturday night show at the Eagles' Hall in downtown Houston. Tony had done even better idea than that, by adding three nights at his own club, the Paladium, picking up from the Texarkana gig. Just a few weeks into his Hayride contract, Elvis used
the clause in the contract permitting him to go elsewhere on Saturday every month.
According to Tony Sepolio, ''I had a booking agency and a record company. Biff Collie
had asked me to bring Elvis Presley for his Saturday night show. I decided to have him come to my club, the Paladium, on South Main, and booked him for three nights at 40 dollars per night. It was a huge thing, 2200 chairs, no air-condition, we had fans along
the wall. He was a handsome young man. In those days, right next to the register, on the back of the bandstand, there was a big room, where I had all these cases of beer, and that's where Elvis would change before and after the show. He sat back there with
his hands covering his face. And my wife would be at the cash register, and the girls would come up and ask, ''Hey, where is Elvis!''. And he said to her, ''Don't want to talk to them''. He would just sit back there contemplating. I thought he was a very smart
boy. He just wore dress pants and a shirt. He didn't wear those country outfits. The paladium normally had some people on Thursday and Friday night and 200 on Saturday night. But I believe we probably had about 200 the first two nights and 400 on Saturday.
He didn't play the whole event; he was what we called a guest artist. He only put on a 200minute show. He could play at my place at 9:30, and he could go down and play at the ''Hillbilly Chapel'' at the auditorium (Eagles' Hall)''.
NOVEMBER 27, 1954 SATURDAY
The Saturday Hoedown Jamboree at Eagles Hall was done in conjunction with radio station KNUZ.
That night another new, rising talent was on the bill, second to Elvis and Biff Collie, as George Jones played one of his regular gigs for KNUZ.
According to Fred Goree
played in the Paladium house band in 1954, ''None of use had ever heard of Elvis. At that place, they had a guest star coming in''.
''I was standing up there with my
steel guitar, and a bunch of people were gathering around the bandstand, and one of them asked, 'Where is Elvis?'. And I said, Í don't know. Elvis must be the guest star coming to be here with us tonight'. We stayed on the bandstand and played behind
him. We didn't play that much''.
The shyness noted by Tony Sepolio is not what teenage girls Jo Ann French and her friend Kouida Experienced. Jo Ann remembers, ''My best
friend's mother and stepfather owned a cafe/beer bar in Highlands just east of Houston in the middle of ''Urban Cowboy'' land. The jukebox man that serviced their establishment was, I suppose, at the direction of Sun Records, promoting this new talent, now
featured on the Louisiana Hayride, and installed what was to be the beginning of a new era on our jukebox''.
''We could not believe our ears when we put our money in
that box. Just his voice melted un into little puddles, and we did not yet know how handsome he was, but we decided he must be as beautiful as the voice. These were the early recordings of ''That's All Right'' and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''. Then the jukebox
man tells us this guy is going to be appearing at the Paladium, a huge dance hall in Houston, and of course, at the ripe old ages of 16 and 17, we could not get in without an adult. So we embarked upon a campaign of pressure on my friend's mother and off we
went. He was everything we ever dreamed of. He had on a pink and black vest, and Scotty and Bill wore western style shirts and slacks. We were on our feet as soon as he started to sing, and we got ourselves up as close to the bandstand as we could get. He
sang ''That's All Right'' and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', and maybe ''Fool, Fool, Fool''. Kouida remembers how he would just go so smoothly and sweetly into a gospel song without warning. I especially remember ''Amazing Grace'', which he sang a cappella. He
also spotted us, and lo and behold, we got him to out table during breaks, where we chatted, giggled, and I can't even remember what else. He signed cocktail napkins for us with little massages''.
''The first night, I know her mother had to go with us to get us in and neither of us can remember how we got in the second night. I think we still had our hand stamped from the previous night''.
''Anyway, after the show that night, Elvis invited us to go out for a sandwich with himself, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black, and there was no way my friend's mother could deny us this adventure. We were to meet
her back at the Paladium parking lot following our ''outing''. When we went out to the old gold and white Chevrolet sedan with Sun Records magnetic signs on each side, and Elvis opened the door, he said, 'Ok, girls, who is going to get in back with me''? She
said, 'Me''! and shot into that car before I could grab her by the hair of the head. However, Bill decided he would go on back to the motel and let the four of us go out. We went to the South Main Drive-in, just down the street from the Paladium. My friend
and I scooted into one of those round booths with Scotty on my end and Elvis on hers. Elvis ordered a fried egg sandwich, 'and fry that eggs hard as a brick', he said, and an ice cream soda. We talked, flirted with Elvis, played records on those little jukeboxes
we used to have in the booths. Elvis and Scotty made lots of fun of Pat Boone, who had a terrible voice we thought. Elvis would point out every time he hit a flat note. We went back to the Paladium, where Kouida and Elvis did a little huggin' and kissin',
while I sat there and wished Bill Black had come along instead of Scotty. My friend's mom arrived and that was the end of that episode''.
According to Biff Collie, ''I
got mail, i got requests. The Hoedown, my nighttime radio show at KNUZ, was getting 200-250 pieces of mail a day. I was probably getting 15-20 pieces of mail for ''That's All Right'', but that wasn't the most. I was getting 30-40-50 pieces of mail for things
like ''Lovesick Blues'' (Hank Williams).
The first night Elvis, Scotty and Bill came, he did the numbers, the shake, the wiggle, the hip thing, and the girls went crazy.
We didn't have a big crowd, but they were very vocal, and he was an animated performer. If I hadn't liked him at all, I would have been impressed professionally, because the people reacted vehemently''.
Lloyd C. Bowen said, ''The first time I remember was a Cook's Hoedown, and he was playing the breaks for another band of the time. This gave him lots of time to visit with the customers and sell pictures. I believe all of his
early appearances in Houston were arranged by KNUZ disc jockey Biff Collie. Biff played his records a lot and got him all sorts of jobs in Houston. I played bass and rhythm guitar and had a band in 1954 called ''The Piney Woods Playboys'', so to some extent
I was competition then. I was sitting with my friend, and fellow bass man, Wayne Keno one night, when Elvis came to sell pictures and talk. My grandmother was the pastor of the Irvington Pentecostal Church in Houston, and some gospel group was appearing the
next day, and Elvis was aware of this and asked if I could get him in. I called my grandmother and told her I wanted to attend and bring a friend. She was overjoyed that I would come and didn't ask anything about my friend (I didn't attend her church very
often). I picked him up the next day at a motel, I don't remember which one, and took him to the concert. No one recognized him, although several knew me''.