ELVIS SUN 1955 (1)
January 1, 1955 to January 31, 1955

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Live Broadcast Recordings for Elvis Presley, January 1, 1955
Live Broadcast Recordings for Elvis Presley, January 15, 1955
Live Broadcast Recordings for Elvis Presley, January 19, 1955
Live Broadcast Recordings for Elvis Presley, January 22, 1955
Radio Commercial for Elvis Presley, 1955

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 < 



Big Bill Broonzy and Yannick Bruynoghe's "Big Bill Blues" published.

The Montgomery (Alabama) bus boycott.

Chuck Berry recorded "Maybellene".

Emmett Till, a black teenager from Chicago, is murdered for talking out of turn to a white woman near Money, Mississippi.

The New Memphis Academy of Art building (now Memphis College of Art) opens in Overton Park.

Elvis Presley's struggle for artistic recognition began paying dividends in early 1955. From January through April, Elvis Presley worked at perfecting his performing skills while Sun Records continued to release his singles. The sales of Presley's 45s and 78s increased steadily due to careful selection of songs, and Elvis Presley maintained his concert popularity. While still just a regional act, this period was the final stage in polishing Elvis' talent as he crafted his music for national exposure. Sam Phillips' promotional genius during the first few months of 1955 brought Elvis Presley out of the Southern regional market and into limited Northern recognition. While the gains up North were not spectacular, there were also signs of interest elsewhere in the country.

In addition to Phillips' promotional work and Bob Neal's managerial skills, Elvis Presley continued to be intimately involved in setting the course for his career. In his office across the street from the Peabody Hotel, Elvis Presley was actively engaged in the publicity end of things. Indeed, it had been as a result of the difficulties he had previously encountered in this area that Elvis Presley knew that he needed an experienced manager. Friends like Ronald Smith, who would wander down to Elvis' office where they would talk for hours about the future, and Johnny Burnette, who often came by the office, encouraged Elvis Presley to sign with a well-known manager. In 1954, Memphis was a small town and everyone had a strong sense of community. If Elvis Presley was to move into the mainstream of the music business, Ronald Smith remembered, he would have to be professionally promoted, and everyone agreed that Bob Neal seemed to be the man for the job.


An explanation is in order concerning the many benefit performances given by Elvis Presley throughout 1955 to 1956. Elvis Presley was always philanthropic with the money he earned through performing. However, the "benefit show" was frequently viewed by promoters as a means of circumventing local entertainment taxes. This was not necessarily a bad thing. Long before Elvis, entertainment had been subject to local taxation as a means of raising community revenue. The argument for taxing live performances usually lay along the lines that the taxes would pay the additional costs incurred by the municipality for the auxiliary police required to control the crowds brought together as a result of the performance. In some towns, Memphis for instance, this tax could add 20-cents to the selling price of a $1.00 ticket. Since promoters generally believed that higher ticket prices cut into ticket sales, they were always on the lookout for ways to side-step this tax. The most common method was to bill the show as a "benefit". Do this, the promoter would approach a local non-profit club or civic organization asking them to sponsor a show. In return, the promoter would usually guarantee the club either a specific sum of money or a percentage of the tickets sales. Either way, this would cost the promoter less than the tax, and the promoter could either pocket the difference or pay the performers more. On behalf of the promoter, the club members acted as the show's ticket agents, handbill distributors, security staff and grounds crew. The non-profit organization ended up with money do good deeds in the community. In turn, this lessened the burden on the local tax funds. It was an arrangement that appeared to be born out of greed that seemed to have a payoff for all concerned.


Sam Phillips arranges the launch of his Flip label. It handles mainly country music and is used as a test label for the local market.

Bob Neal takes over Elvis Presley's management from Scotty Moore. Elvis Presley is touring at this time with Texas Bill Strength and the Browns.

Bud Deckelman's recording of "Daydreamin'" (Meteor 5014) is released as the first country disc on Meteor Records. "Daydreamin'" becomes a manor hit. The song had been taken to Sun Records by writers Claunch and Cantrell but had been turned down by Sam Phillips. Billboard reviews the Meteor version as "a capable rural waxin". A cover version by Jimmy Newman on Dot is a major country chart contender through the summer. Deckelman is snapped up by MGM Records who are still looking for someone to continue in Hank Williams's footsteps.

Malcolm Yelvington's "Drinkin' Wine Spo Dee O Dee"/"Just Rolling Along" (SUN 211) is released and reviewed by Billboard as "a great rhythm oldie sung energetically to a brisk beat. Some juke play should come through".

Hardrock Gunter signs with King Records of Cincinnati, although his first session there had been held three months earlier. He also returns to work as the morning disc jockey on WWVA, Wheeling, West Virginia.

"Milkcow Blues Boogie"/"You're A Heartbreaker" (SUN 215) by Elvis Presley is released.


At his headquarters in Madison, Tennessee, Colonel Tom Parker invited Hank Snow to his office. They talked a few moments about mundane things, and then Tom Parker blurted out; "There's a boy around, Elvis Presley, and I think we should book him on the show with you. I think he'd make us some money. The kids really like him". "Be sure he behaves himself", Hank Snow remarked. "I have thousands of loyal fans who I owe my best".

Hank Snow didn't realize that the Colonel had hoodwinked him - he was less interested in enhancing the draw for Show's tour than he was in the prospects for cementing a management deal with Elvis Presley, whom he felt had great potential. While on the three-week tour, Elvis Presley appeared before large crowds and demonstrated conclusively that he could compete with seasoned, professional musicians. It was impossible for another artist to follow him on stage. After the second night, Tom Parker wisely switched Elvis Presley to the closing act, a move which infuriated Hank Snow. The Colonel also began to feature Elvis Presley's name prominently in the publicity releases for the tour.


Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black appeared at the Eagles Hall in Houston, Texas.


Colonel Tom Parker became the manager of Hank Snow, one of the Grand Ole Opry's most popular members and another RCA Victor recording artist. Snow, nicknamed "The Singing Ranger" was Canadian by birth, although he had lived in the States for years. When Parker took over Snow's affairs, he combined Jamboree Attractions under the banner of Hank Snow Enterprises.

While Elvis was playing in Texas, Colonel Tom Parker's right-hand man, Tom Diskin, was firing off letters to local promoters to arrange dates for Hank Snow's West Coast tour ending in Denver on February 13, a week of extra shows from West Texas towards Nashville was the goal. As a result of the meeting with Bob Neal and Elvis the week before in Shreveport, Colonel Tom Parker had decided to include Elvis in the package, and sent Neal a contract to that effect. Neal responded the next day:

''Dear Tom

Here are the signed contracts for the Elvis Presley unit. As I told you, I have booked February 11th and 12th in Hobbs and Carlsbad, New Mexico, so Sunday the 13th unit will be killing time before going to Roswell for your show on the 14th. If you can book anything, I know you will do your usual excellent job. I think I have finally gotten Pappy Covington straightened out so that we will have no more trouble with him. If we work together as well in the future as in the past I'm sure it will be a happy and profitable association.

If there is anything also you need in material about the Presley unit please call me.

Sincerely, Bob Neal - Elvis Presley manager''.

Bob Neal's concern was not only to avoid layovers, but also to make sure that Hayride booker Pappy Covinton rose to the occasion for the new tie-in with Jamboree Attractions. Bob had taken the trip down to Shreveport to go through it all with Pappy Covinton, including a discussion of proper business conduct in relation to Pappy's request for advances on his booking commission. Tom Diskin insisted on adherence to protocol, but eventually agreed to try to involve Pappy Covington in setting up a smaller group, sans Hank Snow, to do another week starting Sunday, February 20:

''If you get any leads that we can work into on these dates, let us know, for we are finding that Elvis is very spotty, in the areas where we are trying to take him''.

Diskin's concern about Elvis' drawing power in no way hindered his pushing Elvis to promoters as ''a new star that is knocking them dead wherever he appears''.


In Houston, Elvis Presley headlined a sellout show at the Eagle's Hall (officially Aerie #63, Hall of the Fraternal Order of Eagle), located 2204 Louisiana Street. Elvis' performance was part of the "Grand Prize Saturday Night Jamboree", sponsored by Grand Prize Beer and broadcast over KNUZ radio from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. The Jamboree's regulars were James O'Gwynne, Coye Wilcox, the Dixie Drifters, Ernie Hunter, Herb Remington, emcee Biff Collie, and announcer Ken Grant.

Also appearing with Elvis Presley on this New Year's Day were Tommy Sands of RCA Victor Records, The Brown Brothers, Sonny Burns, George Jones of Starday Records and Jerry Jerico of "X" Records. Guest emcee on this date was Gabe Tucker, the personal manager of country performers Ernest and Justin Tubb.



The Eagle's Hall was a large auditorium used primarily for country music concerts. There was no dance floor at the Eagle's Hall, and this agitated the crowd. That night it was filled with New Year's Day revellers, noisy and full of post-holiday spirit. The sold-out performance before a raucous, stomping crowd prompted Elvis Presley to add a Ray Charles song to the show, "I Got A Woman". It brought a standing ovation from the sea of cowboys hats, flannel shirts, and frilly women's dresses.

What made the Eagle's Hall show unique was the fact that not all of the Blue Moon Boys were with Elvis Presley. At the last minute, Scotty Moore caught the fly and didn't travel to Houston. Scotty Moore was home in bed with a 101 temperature. That night an extremely nervous Elvis Presley took the stage, fretting over his musical accompaniment. He didn't like the idea of performing without Scotty Moore. Still, Elvis Presley felt good because his backup band had new clothes, and would otherwise make a good showing.

Bob Neal had purchased Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and D.J. Fontana grey sport coats, white shirts, and black bow ties. When Elvis Presley took on stage in a dark suit, black shirt, and a silver-grey tie, there was a murmur from the crowd.

Composer: - Roy Brown
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Fort Knox Music Incorporated
Recorded: - January 1, 1955 - Radio Broadcast

The Eagle's Hall announcer, Ken Grant, introduced Elvis Presley as "the Bopping Hillbilly", and Elvis Presley began his set with a subdued version of "Good Rockin' Tonight". The show's master of ceremonies, Gabe Tucker, a local musician, filled in on guitar. It wasn't the show that Elvis' fans expected. Tucker's guitar work was limited, and his slow, country licks suffocated Elvis' rockabilly vocals. After he finished "Good Rockin' Tonight", Elvis Presley introduced Bill Black and D.J. Fontana to the youthful crowd.

Composer: - Arthur Neal Gunter
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Excelloree Music
Recorded: - January 1, 1955 - Radio Broadcast

Next, Elvis Presley began singing "Baby Let's Play House". There were screams from the girls, and the audience shrieked with ecstasy. Elvis Presley had some trouble with the mic, fumbling it. "Thank you, friends", Elvis Presley shouted, breathing heavily.

Composer: - William Smith "Bill" Monroe
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Peer International Corporation
Recorded: - January 1, 1955 - Radio Broadcast

Elvis Presley followed with a forced version of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky". "Ah, play it Gabe", Elvis Presley hollered, and Gabe Tucker's guitar filled the break. Elvis Presley toyed with the words "shaking" and "shouting" in "Blue Moon Of Kentucky". After the song, he quickly left the stage but returned a few seconds later. "Thank you very much, I was coming back anyway", Elvis Presley remarked. "I'd like to do a little song right here that I hope you people like.

This one's called "little darling you broke my heart when you went away but I'll break your jaw when you come back' - did you ever hear that one? I'd like to do this little song here, it's called "I Got A Woman". The screams from the girls were constant during this show.

Composer: - Ray Charles
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Progressive Music Incorporated
Recorded: - January 1, 1955 - Radio Broadcast

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar
Gabe Tucker - Electric Lead Guitar
William P. Bill Black - Acoustic Upright Bass
Dominic Joseph Fontana - Drums (Gretsch)


GABE TUCKER - Musician, who played bass and fiddle for Eddy Arnold in 1955. In 1956 Tucker became the manager of singer Justin Tubb. Acting as a promotion man for Colonel Tom Parker, had for years travelled a day ahead of the Eddy Arnold Show, plastering Parker's advertising all over the South. Apart from operating in the Colonel's shadow, Tucker himself dabbled with a number of musical instruments and wrote songs.

In addition to playing guitar, Tucker was adept with the bass and trumpet. He loved to jam with local musicians, and he was a marvellous promoter. Gabe Tucker and Colonel Tom Parker were so much alike that when they fought, they fought like brothers.

Not only was Tucker a consummate hustler, but he was a regular in local pool halls. As a result, he had ample opportunity to find out what the locals thought about Elvis Presley's music.

Gabe Tucker had been privy to the stresses and strains of the era when Colonel managed Eddy Arnold, and had negotiated a lucrative recording contract with RCA with the promise that Arnold would tour steadily.

In the 1960s, through Parker's help, Gabe Tucker went to work for the William Morris Agency. Tucker authored, with Marge Crumbaker of the Houston Post, the 1981 book Up And Down With Elvis: The Inside Story.

Gabe Tucker, like Tommy Sands, Oscar Davis, Hank Snow, Horage Logan, and others, has claimed to be the first to suggest to Colonel Tom Parker that Parker should become Elvis Presley's manager.

JUSTIN TUBB - Son of country legend Ernest Tubb, was the same age as Elvis Presley and they were good friends while on tour. Justin and Goldie Hill had a country hit with the novelty "Looking Back To See" in 1954. He joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1955 and recorded for Decca, the same label as his father.

Also on this date, Bob Neal officially took over as Elvis' full-time manager. Almost immediately, the amount of money spent on newspaper advertising for Elvis' shows increased dramatically. Neal soon opened an office at 160 Union Avenue in Memphis dedicated to Elvis Presley Enterprises. (Now located Holiday Inn Hotel).

Tommy Sands, who watched the early part of the show from backstage, was impressed with Elvis' stage presence. He had never seen such a visually exciting show. Sands remembered that young Presley was something special, and the Texas crowd was familiar with his music. A number of girls that Tommy Sands knew inquired about Elvis Presley.

TOMMY SANDS - Born in Chicago on August 27, 1939, Sands grew up in Texas and Louisiana. He was a regular on Cliffie Stone's Hometown Jamboree in Dallas and appeared as a regular on the "Louisiana Hayride". A rockabilly singer managed by Colonel Tom Parker, Sands toured extensively with Elvis Presley in 1954-1955. Scotty Moore and Bill Black approached Sands to become the lead singer in the Blue Moon Boys after they fought with Elvis Presley. Sands was uncomfortable with this idea, but he played one concert date with Scotty Moore and Bill Black. His early rockabilly and country recordings were all but forgotten in 1956 when he appeared in the TV show "The Singing Idol". This program catapulted Sands to stardom as a teen idol. During the time he was a rockabilly singer for RCA Records, Sands was close to and very friendly with Elvis Presley. He lives in Hawaii and is presently active on the Oldies but Goodies circuit.


Elvis Presley began a tour of mid-sized towns in West Texas co-produced by Billy Walker and Tillman Franks of the Louisiana Hayride. Appearing with Elvis Presley were Walker, Jimmy and Johnny and comedian Peach Seed Jones, billed as a "star of TV, stage, radio".

On this tour Elvis Presley was reportedly paid a straight salary of $150 per show plus $10 a day for car expenses. However, that amount may have varied. In addition, this fee was most likely divided between Scotty Moore and Bill Black.

According to Billy Walker, the first date on his first tour with Elvis Presley was in Odessa. Here Elvis, Scotty and Bill played a brief, forty-minute "teaser" show at the High School Auditorium in the afternoon prior to the main performance that evening. While in Odessa, Elvis and Walker also appeared on Roy Orbison's local program on KOSA-TV. No advertisement for this show has been uncovered, but a fan who has seen a kinescope of the Orbison television show confirms that it came from January.

Billy Walker, who would turn twenty-six on January 14, recorded for Columbia. His latest release was "Thank You For Calling". Nicknamed the "Traveling Texan", he rejoined the Hayride in November 1954 after an absence of several months while he appeared on the Ozark Jubilee in Springfield, Missouri. He would later be a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Jimmy and Johnny were a comic singing duo and one of the few country acts on blues-oriented Chess Records. They were regulars on the Big ''D'' Jamboree in Dallas, Texas.

Roy Orbison visited the Big ''D'' Jamboree in Dallas. It was there that he saw Elvis Presley for the first time. "First thing", he recalled to Nick Kent, "he came out and spat out a piece of gum onto the stage. He was a punk kind. A weird-looking dude. I can't over-emphasize how shocking he looked and sounded to me that night. He did "Maybellene", and the kids started shouting. There was pandemonium cause the girls took a shine to him and the guys were getting jealous. Plus he told some real bad crude jokes. Dumb off-colour humour. His diction was real coarse - like a struck driver's. But his energy was incredible and his instinct was just amazing".

Roy Orbison recorded "Tryin' To Get To You" it at roughly the same time that Elvis Presley recorded a version for Sun Records that remained unissued until 1956. It is conceivable that Elvis Presley sang the tune on one of his forays through Texas - possible even on Orbison's television show - and that Orbison learned it from him: Orbison used the same shuffle rhythm and made the same minor lyrical change that Elvis Presley did.


The headliner of the show was Billy Walker and not "Alvis Presley", as the lone newspaper ad read, performed with his small group at the 1,855 seat City Auditorium in San Angelo, Texas. The show kicked off at 8:00 p.m. and tickets cost $1.00 for adults and a half that for children. Hayride artists Billy Walker and Jimmy and Johnny and country comic Peach Seed Jones complete the lineup.

Here, Elvis Presley was, early in his first big tour, and already he was running late. For the next two years, this would almost be the norm. At 9:30, just when it looked like the promoter would have to begin refunding the audience's ticket price, Elvis Presley drove up in his pink Cadillac with Bill's bass tied to the top.

According to later reports, Elvis Presley gave a rousing performance. After the show was over, fans crowded the stage and wouldn't let him leave. Finally a few police officers were called to clear the Auditorium so the stagehands could clean up. Walker Pater recalled that the performers divided a gate of $3,000.

According to Joe Peacock, disc jockey at KTXL radio in San Angelo said, ''The afternoon of the Elvis concert, the radio station manager appeared in the control room, followed by a young man with long sideburns and suede shoes, pink, not blue, and looking like he had been living in his car''.

''I believe that it was only the day before that, I had ever heard of him, but when he asked if I would play his record, I didn't hesitate to say yes. He went out to the car and came back with a 45rpm record of ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''.


Elvis Presley and the group played for the first time at the Cotton Club, owned by Ralph Lowe, in Lubbock, Texas. The Cotton Club was the biggest club in West Texas. It provided the only live music entertainment for people who wanted to go out, listen, be entertained, and dance.

Its musical menu was varied, from the Dorsey Brothers big band, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, to Ray Charles, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, to the Louisiana Hayride stars, to now Elvis Presley.

Also on the bill was Wanda Jackson, Bob Wills and the local country-rock band, Buddy and Bob - Buddy Holly and Bob Montgomery on guitars, with Larry Welborn on bass. There were no newspaper ads, and the show was promoted over KDAV radio, 580 on the dial, which billed itself as the first radio station in the States to play country music full-time.

Elvis Presley's show began about 9:00 p.m. followed by a dance. The Cotton Club usually charged $1.00 admission of which the entertainers received fifty percent. A KDAV disc jockey known as Hipockets Duncan later reported that Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black received a total of $35, although Sonny Curtis, a subsequent member of the Crickets with Buddy Holly, thought Elvis split $75 with his band members.

Other rumours suggested that Elvis Presley appeared at the Fair Park Auditorium in Lubbock, Texas. Two Lubbock high school students, Mac Davis and John Denver, read the local newspaper while listening to Presley's records. Too young to go to the Cotton Club, they were still well versed about Elvis' exploits.

"I was a disc jockey, I had a band, I booked bands and I emceed a lot in those days", said Bill Myrick. "I booked Elvis Presley into the Cotton Club and I emceed that show. Buddy Holly was just a kid. He was always coming around and asking, 'Can I sit in with you?'. On this night, Ralph the owner, suggested we lei Buddy play during Elvis Presley's intermissions".

According to Waylon Jennings he said, ''The first show Elvis dis in Lubbock, I think he got paid some ridiculous amount, fifty or sixty dollars, something like that. I was about 17, and I was backstage. I met Elvis and talked to him for a while. Scotty Moore was there and I think Elvis had Scotty's guitar backstage, and he was singing ''Tweedlee Dee''. He said, 'This is gonna be my next record, and he sang us the song''.

Pat Lowe Hankins remembers being embarrassed on the first meeting with Elvis. Her father owned the Cotton Club. "My mother and Elvis were standing there talking", said Hankins. "She asked me, 'Would you like to meet Elvis?' and I said 'No'. He wasn't famous then. He was standing right there and I didn't know who he was. She had never before asked me if I had wanted to meet anyone at the club. I was fourteen and I got so embarrassed".

"He was nice and friendly. The club was not a good place for kids to be, so he looked after my brother and me. He played Tic Tac Douch with me on a tablecloth. Yeah", laughed Ralph Lowe Jr., "and dad docked him a dollar to clean that tablecloth at the and of the night".

"Dad would bake a ham and I would come in and make ham sandwiches", she said. "I used to slip sandwiches out the kitchen door to Buddy Holly and Mac Davis.

They were poor at the time. Sometimes I'd slip them in through the kitchen to see someone like Fats Domino because they couldn't afford admission".

Hankins said because of her age, she couldn't stay at the club to late, but rumours were circulating that after Elvis Presley appearance there one night, a girl bared her breasts and asked Elvis Presley to autograph them... and he did!

"Daddy had booked Elvis Presley, Faron Young and Wanda Jackson into the club for a hundred and fifty dollars", said Ralph Junior. "Daddy didn't like Buddy Holly, so that's why my sister was slipping him in the back door. The Cotton Club was a swinging place back then. It was the only place in West Texas to go. The area was dry, but you could buy bootleg whisky, even though it was illegal. Elvis got a cool reception that first night.

But Wanda Jackson more than made up for it when she was on". "The people were hooked on Texas swing. I used to go up on stage when Bob Wills was singing and he'd pick me up and keep on singing".

The fact is, little five-year-old Ralph stole a lot of Elvis Presley' thunder that first night at the Cotton Club. Here was Elvis, hips swiveling, pelvis about to get thrown out of joint, banging frenetically on his guitar and screaming words into the microphone and what happens but this little kid walked on stage, toy guitar in hand, wanting to be part of the show.

After all, that kind old Mister Wills was always so friendly, surely this jumping jack would be, too. The intrusion shocked Elvis. The crowd laughed. And Elvis soon was following in the kindly Mister Wills' footsteps and little Ralph Lowe walked away one happy dude.

MAC "SCOTT" DAVIS - Country-oriented singer and composer born in Lubbock, Texas, on January 21, 1941. On October 15, 1955, in Lubbock, fourteen-year-old Mac Davis attended a show at the Cotton Club that featured Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly on the same bill. During his early years in the music business, he lived in Atlanta, where he played in a rock & roll band and worked as a regional manager for Vee-Jay Records.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, many Mac Davis compositions were recorded by major artists, including Lou Rawls ("You're Good For Me"), Bobby Goldsboro ("Watching Scotty Grow", about Mac Davis' real-life son), and Glen Cambell ("Within My Memory"). Mac Davis tells his story in his 1980 recording of "Texas In My Rear View Mirror" (Casablanca NB 2305), in which the talks about Buddy Holly and leaving Lubbock, Texas.

Glen Campbell, who married David's former wife, Sarah, gave Davis the nickname "The Song Painter". Elvis Presley recorded several Mac Davis-Billy Strange compositions like, "Clean Up Your Own Backyard", "Charro", "A Little Less Conversation", "Nothingville", "Memories", and two which Davis had written alone, "In The Ghetto", and "Don't Cry Daddy".

The $40,000 royalty check that Mac Davis received for "In The Ghetto" helped bail him out of financial problems. On the jacket of Davis' 1980 Greatest Hits album he gave special thanks to Billy Strange, Elvis Presley, Clive Davis, and Sandy Gallin.

WANDA JACKSON - Female rock and roll star. Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Wanda Jackson began her recording career as a country singer on Decca Records in 1954 but really made her mark with a string of tough rockabilly. In 1956 Wanda Jackson signed a contract with Capitol and continued to record for until the early 1970s. Records like "Honey Bop", "Mean, Mean, Man" and "Fujiyama Mama" established her place in the rock and roll history books for ever, but she scored her biggest pop hit with her storming version of Elvis Presley's "Party" in 1960. Wanda Jackson's many successes in the country field included "Right Or Wrong" and "The Box It Came In". During 1955 and 1956 she worked on several shows with Elvis Presley and witnessed first hand The Hillbilly Cat's rise to fame. Wanda Jackson recalls those days with much affection, referring to the period as "one of the most exciting times of my life".

LUBBOCK / ROCK AND ROLL RELIGION - Bible Belt Lubbock, home to Texas Tech University, is the largest city in the Texas Panhandle and makes its money from oil and ranching. Is proud to be one of the centers of West Texas rock 'n' roll heritage. The area is not only the home of Buddy Holly and the Crickets, but of Mac Davis, Waylon Jennings and numerous other performers. Lubbock is also justly proud of its Protestant heritage.

Even today, four of the largest buildings in central Lubbock are churches. Sometimes, though, the two forms of expression had difficulty to co-existing.

In 1955, Lubbock had rigid liquor laws on the books. No alcoholic beverages of any type were sold inside the city limits. No newspaper advertising was accepted for liquor, beer or wine.

Also, virtually no ads were run for the night clubs or cocktail lounges, such as the Cotton Club, that operated outside the city limits. In West Texas, traditions change slowly. In the 1990s, there are no over the counter sales of package liquor, beer or wine inside the Lubbock city limits. In 1956, there was a report that during one of the times that Elvis Presley performed in Lubbock, he was caught in a compromising situation with the daughter of the police chief. Then, on his next trip to Lubbock, his Cadillac was firebombed by the yo were waiting for the faster numbers. "The biggest hall in town wouldn't have held Elvis' show that night", Tommy Sands remembered.


Elvis appears with the top of the Louisiana Hayride stars for a crowd of more than 1,600 people at the High School Auditorium in Midland, Texas. According to Shirley McDade, ''I worked in a record shop. We sold his records in the shop, and we thought he was a black gay. He had out only two records. The people I worked for owned three record shops, one in Big Springs, one in Odessa, and the one in Midland where I worked.

They would sponsor country and western musicians, who would come and appear in different places. The first time he came here, I was in Houston, and when I came back, the lady I worked for said, ''He is white and really cute. He ain't drinking and you should have been here'. I was 17, a senior in high school''.

Billy Walker a country singer said, ''I was doing pretty good back then, had three hit records. But then that young guy crawled on stage and blowed us all out of the water I remember that first night. i closed the show. But, after that, we let him close the show. He was absolutely fantastic. He just bowled us over''.

Elvis Presley went down so well that the artists between them agreed that it would only be fair to split the take evenly, instead of just giving Elvis the 150 dollars they had agreed on prior to the tour. When a crowd of 1600, they were certainly doing good business.

Bill Myrick an Odessa disc jockey remembers and said, ''During my time, I was a disc jockey at KEGK, here in Odessa. A friend of mine, Keith Ward, was over in Midland, that's about 20 miles from here. About 20 minutes on Highway 80, a four-line highway back then. I worked for Bill Monroe at the Grand Ole Opry back in the late forties, for about a year and a half and then i came out here''.

''One day I got this record in on Presley on Sun, and I had never heard anything about him. I played ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', really on the account of Bill Monroe. I kinda liked what I heard, and I got several calls on ''That's All Right'', and I called Keith Ward at KJBC in Midland and asked, 'Have you got this record?'. He said, I've got it, but I haven't played it'. I said, 'Hey, do me a favor and let's see what we can do with this thing'. We worked together pretty good. Right away, we saw the thing beginning to click. I don't know when, but Keith told me he had a chance to book Elvis out here, if I would help him. And I said, 'Go ahead, and I'll help you to promote it anyway I can'''.

''I had no idea what he did until that night when I introduced him. People just sat in awe for about a minute, and the house kind of exploded. It was almost like a family affair before it was over. He adapted so quick, Scotty and Bill did too, and everybody loved him''.


An article in Billboard's "Folk Talent & Tunes" column reported that Bob Neal had takeover the personal management of Elvis Presley, "who in a few short months has catapulted to a top spot on the "Louisiana Hayride". Sun Records released Elvis' third single, "Milkcow Blues Boogie"/"You're A Heartbreaker" (SUN 215). Elvis Presley resumed his weekly appearances on the "Louisiana Hayride" in Shreveport.

They arrived in Shreveport by the afternoon, and as usual they dropped by Hayride booking agent Pappy Covington's office, always looking to see if Pappy had any work for them. Johnny Horton was there, and Elvis had taken an instant liking to ''The Singing Fisherman'', as he was called. After exchanging pleasantries, Elvis told Johnny that he had a new record coming out, and Johnny easily persuaded Elvis to sing ''Milkcow Blues Boogie'' right there on the spot.

As always, MC Horage Logan introduced each act that night: Buddy Attaway opened, next was Jeanette Hicks. Johnny Horton did ''Take It Like A Man'', Betty Amos delivered Hank Williams' ''Honky Tonkin''', and at 8:30, Jim Ed and Maxine Brown debuted their new single, ''Dragging Main Street''.

Elvis is introduced as the ''Memphis Flash'' and described to the radio audience by announcer Frank Page as wearing crocodile-skin shoes with pink socks. Elvis performs ''That's All Right'', ''Hearts Of Stone'', ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', and ''Fool, Fool, Fool''. The bill includes rising country star Johnny Horton, known as ''The Singing Fisherman'', who will have a huge hit four years later with ''The Battle Of New Orleans''.

Hayride management liked to feature familiar hits on the shows, and the musicians were obliged to swap these obligatory songs between them. ''Hearts Of Stone'' was a number 1 pop single by the Fontana Sisters and, thus, Jeanette Hicks had it in her repertoire, and so did Betty Amos. It was new to Elvis repertoire, but he most likely knew it from Otis Williams and the many rhythm and blues records Elvis checked out, collected and often incorporated into his set list. Before they began ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', Logan informed the radio audience that Elvis was wearing crocodile skin shoes. They closed their part of the show with the Clovers' hit ''Fool, Fool, Fool'', before it was time to celebrate Elvis' 20th birthday.

The Saturday night gatherings in Shreveport were ideal occasions for the musicians to outline weekly tour strategies. They would split into smaller groups and go out on the road the following week, come back on Saturday for the Hayride, and create new ''mini-tour'' packages for the next week. Elvis was often met with disbelief when he and his two band members arrived at shows. Local promoters often assumed what they heard on record required more than just a three-piece unit. For the coming three weeks, Elvis asked Sonny Trammel and Leon Post to join the tour and play with Jim Ed and Maxine Brown, and Elvis' trio.


Early January, Elvis was interviewed by Lynn McDowell, WBIP radio, in Booneville, Mississippi in a promotion plugging his upcoming personal appearance in that town. Booneville was twenty-five miles north of Tupelo.


Elvis perform at the High School Gym in New Boston, Texas. From this appearance till the end of the month, Elvis' band is augmented by piano player Leon Post and steel guitarist Sonny Trammel, members of the Hayride band. The show is hosted by Texarkana, Arkansas,disc jockey Ernest Hackworth.

According to Sonny Trammel he said, ''I remember we played the schoolhouse in New Boston, and we had a power failure, that stopped the show for a short while''.On that first night of the tour more than 500 people turned out, more than the entire population of New Boston. The power failure during the show didn't seem to discourage anyone, and through Ernest Hackworth, a local disc jockey at KTWN, doubling as a comedian under the name of Uncle Dudley, the word about this new phenomenon, reached Colonel Parker and his assistant Tom Diskin, who happened to be on their way to pay Hackworth a visit.

The fact that Elvis had pulled an audience of 500 for the show certainly impressed Colonel Parker's right-hand man Tom Diskin so much that he used this fact later in the month to hype Elvis with the various promoters he was courting.

Another recurring phenomenon was Elvis seeing the girl he had met the last time he was in town. Elvis had met Jo at the New Year's Eve show at the NCO club, and invited her down to the show in New Boston, and Jo felt that Elvis was singing ''Harbor Lights'' specially for her. The whole ''date'' was often taken up by an after-the-show visit to the best local burger joint, where Elvis would overwhelm many of the girls with his appetite for burgers, French fries and milkshakes. Occasionally, Elvis would even drive the girl home, kissing her swiftly before racing away from any potential parental appearance.


Elvis Presley performed for the "First Time in The Delta!". At least that's the way the ad in the Clarksdale Press Register read. This evening, Elvis Presley began a short tour with an 8:00 p.m. show at the Clarksdale City Auditorium. Appearing with Elvis Presley on this swing were Jim Ed and Maxine Brown, "Tater" Bob Neal, Scotty Moore and Bill Black and other members of the Louisiana Hayride who were collectively billed as the Louisiana Hayride Jamboree.

In addition, Texas Bill Strength, the Memphis disc jockey, was mentioned in Billboard (November 13, 1954) as possibly being on this swing although his name does not appear in any of the advertisements. Adults were $1.00 and 75-cents and children were 50- cents.

The Saturday night jamboree in Clarksdale was "a raunchy sort of affair", with "lots of country people and lots of beer and lots of noise", according to Stella Pitts, who was in Junior High at the time.

In Clarksdale, Elvis Presley was "just another barn dance hick", she later recalled. She was a frequent attended, and she and her friends were much more interested in seeing "all those country people dancing and hugging and kissing and hollering".

Backstage on the night of January 12, Elvis Presley listened to "Sincerely" by the Moonglows, marvelling at the Chess Records sound. Another good example of how he used his free time was demonstrated during this Texas Bill Strength tour.

Having read about the Fontaine Sisters, "Hearts Of Stone", Elvis Presley quickly acquired a copy and realized immediately that he could cover it. Otis Williams and the Charms, a black vocal group, had released "Heart Of Stone" in November 1954, and the Fontaine Sister's version was a pale imitation of the original.

Martha Coleman said at the end of his first performance in Clarksdale, Elvis said he wanted to "thank all three of you for comin'". While hanging out in Clarksdale, Elvis Presley liked to hang out at the Ranchero Drive-In.

CLARKSDALE - The nerve center of Delta blues, is the birthplace of Junior Parker, Bukka White, Son House, and John Lee Hooker, as well as the rock and roll era's Ike Turner and Sam Cooke. Before World War II, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf gravited here to play juke joints and busk on street corners. Visitors come to see Tennessee William's home and the Delta Blues Museum, but Clarksdale, 75 miles southwest of Memphis is far from being a smaller cousin of Beale Street. It's still a vital performing center with lively homegrown venues. Contemporary singers Lonnie Pitchford (who often busks on 4th Street) and Rank Frost play no-frills venues like Smitty's Red Top Lounce at 377 Yazoo Avenue, and "Red's" at 395 Sunflower Avenue.

Injured in an auto wreck on Highway 61 in September 1937, bluessinger Bessie Smith was brought to G.T. Thomas Hospital in Clarksdale, but died soon after. Blues folklore holds that it was a whites only establishment and turned away her ambulance - Edward Albee even wrote a play about it, The Death of Bessie Smith, but Thomas was actually a black hospital.

In 1944 the hospital was converted into the Riverside Hotel (Home Of The Blues). Sonny Boy Williams II (Alex Miller) and Ike Turner later stayed, Turner wrote and recorded with Jackie Brenston the acetate "Rocket 88" here, and their names can still be seen in the register. John F. Kennedy Jr., stayed here on a blues-landmarks trip around the Delta. Located at 615 Sunflower Avenue, Clarksdale, Mississippi. Rooms: $40.

Another essential stop for a blues fan touring the Delta, is Stackhouse Records and is crammed full of rare recordings and such blues paraphernalia as voodoo charms. It's also an unbeatable source of local knowledge: Delta maps featuring all the definitive landmarks are available, and the staff are pleased to give the latest information on gigs and hard-to-find juke joints. The famous store is owned by archivist and all-around approachable guy Jim O'Neal (one of the founders of Living Blues Magazine). He also runs the Rooster Blues label, which records local artists like Lonnie Pitchford. Located at 232 Sunflower Avenue, Clarksdale, Mississippi.


Back in Helena, Arkansas, "by popular demand", Elvis Presley performed at 8:00 p.m. at the Auditorium of the Catholic Club. Appearing with Elvis group was Howard Seratt, a local performer, and "member of the Louisiana Hayride Band" - who were presumably Scotty and Bill. It has also been determined that Sonny Trammell and Leon Post appeared on this show. Admission for all of this was only 75-cents.

During this performance, Elvis Presley experimented with "When It Rains It Really Pours". The tune had just been released on Sun Records by Billy "The Kid" Emerson (SUN 214). It was the type of slow, bluesy tune that Elvis Presley loved, and he had already told Sam Phillips that he, too, wanted to record it. Unfortunately, when Elvis Presley performed it live, the audience did not respond very well. Elvis Presley was surprised by the lack of enthusiasm, and, the next day, drove rather glumly to Marianna, Arkansas, for a Friday night performance.

Sonny Payne, disc jockey at KFFA, and Larry Parker booked Elvis Presley for the show, in which Elvis came out in an all-pink outfit and white shoes, then, as Doris Smith remembers it, "changed costumes from one set to another".

Thirteen at the time, Smith was coached by the older girls she had arrived with on how to act during the concert, "but when Elvis started wiggling, I started wiggling and nearly fell out of my chair".

After the show, Elvis Presley invited Evelyn Jacks, an usherette, to have dinner with him. They drove in his pink Cadillac to Papa Nick's Cafe where they dined with about six others. Driving her home, she said she and Elvis talked about religion and he talked about his mother. At one point, he stopped the car and swung from the low-hanging limb of a tree like a monkey.

Bob Leuken, in charge of the concession stands that night, said Elvis came up and asked for a Coke, got it and started walking away. "hey, you owe me for that Coke!", Leuken shouted at Elvis. Penniless at the time, as he oft-times was throughout life, Elvis Presley had someone else pay for it.

Unimpressed, Leuken told fellow workers, "This guy will never make it". Even more unimpressed at Elvis' gyrations was the Catholic priest of the parish. He asked that Elvis never again be invited to the Catholic Club - and he wasn't.

(Above) BY TARA LITTLE - IN HELENA, ARKANSAS THE YOUNG Elvis Presley was kicked out a Catholic club by a priest who caught him autographing the thigh of a teenage female fan, it has emerged.

The priest, Fr Gregory Keller, told Presley he was a "disgrace to manhood" and that he was never to return to the club in Helena, Arkansas. The future "king of rock and roll" was banned after a performance at the club in 1955, when he was 21 years old.

The event came to light late last month when a journalist from the Arkansas Catholic, the diocesan newspaper, interviewed a group of pensioners who remembered Presley's early performances.

The Catholic Club, as it was known in the 1950s, served as St Mary's Parish Hall and Sacred Heart's School Gymnasium. The former Sacred Heart Academy was run by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth until 1962. The club also served as Helena's Community Centre because it was the largest building of its kind at the time. Civic organisations, schools and other local groups frequently hired the club for banquets, meetings and dances.

When Elvis Presley went looking for a place to perform in Helena, Arkansas, 65 miles from Memphis, Tennessee, he was directed to the Parish Hall by St. Mary's Parishioner and radio host "Sunshine" Sonny Payne.

Mr Payne, now 80, said his first impression of Presley was not a good one. "He had on an old T-shirt and a cigar in his mouth. He didn't impress me one bit'', he said. "When you're in show business, you have to look like a show person, and you can't do it in T-shirts or blue jeans''. Annette Beauchamp, 77, said she remembered being told by several Parishioners at the time that a "furious" Fr Keller, the Parish priest of St Mary's, had ejected Presley, for reportedly writing inappropriate signatures on some of his adoring fans. Another fan, Lyne Von Kanel, 70, said she never saw that side of Presley. "We would all go backstage and talk and visit and get autographs. "He was very congenial, very nice'', she said. "The guys hated him''. She added: "Looking back I don't see anything that was obscene or really bad about it, it was just that we weren't used to that''.

Presley even drew the attention of America, the national Jesuit magazine, in its June 23, 1956 issue. Titled "Beware Elvis Presley," the journal quoted from several newspapers around the country that found Presley troublesome.

One described a performance in Wisconsin as a "striptease with clothes on, not only suggestive, but downright obscene". Before his ban from the Helena Catholic Club, the sisters who ran the nearby Sacred Heart Academy had banned boarding students from attending Presley's shows after the rumours of his "hip gyrations" had reached their ears.

According to Cecil Scaife, radio promotion director of KFFA in Helena and future national sales and promotion manager for Sun Records said, ''The show wasn't supposed to start until 7:30, but Elvis came down about 1:00 in the afternoon. He had nothing else to do, so he went out, drank six chocolate milk shakes, and got him a box of sweet Havana cigars. He came back to the radio station, and started trying to smoke those cigars, and they made him so sick he threw up.

He was trying to learn to smoke a cigar, but it didn't work out. He always addressed me as Mister. He was basically a shy person and very polite. He had played Helena once, and when word got out he was coming back a second time, we had a capacity crowd''.

LaRawn Scaife, daughter of Cecil said, ''Elvis wore pink pants that were so wrinkled at the knees they looked like they had been tied with a drawstring. He'd turn up on one toe and do that little knee action, and the crowd loved it''.

''Daddy said that no one really knew who he was, and he had a hard time convincing the disc jockeys at KFFA in Helena where Daddy was promotion director (this was when he met Sam Phillips; he called on Sam to try to get some local acts on with Sam, and Sam hired him from KFFA). Uncle Basil was a very funny, in demand MC for local events, and they worked together to bring the talent to Helena. I think Daddy made all of the arrangements, and he used Uncle Basil as ''personality'' and draw. Daddy booked and promoted them with on air help from Uncle Basil'', LaRawn said.

CECIL SCAIFE - born as Cecil Ross Scaife in Helena, Phillips County, Arkansas on April 13, 1927 to Brooks and Elsie Lumpkin Scaife. He attended the University of Arkansas at Monticello where he was President of the Student Body, voted ''Most Likely to Succeed'' as well as ''Wittiest'' among his peers.

In 1986, he was selected Alumnus of the year and an endowment was established in his honor. He did his graduate study at Texas Christian University. Ever so theatrical, soon after graduation he was off to Broadway when he was selected the winner of a Mid South talent contest sponsored by the Memphis Press Scimitar. He loved acting throughout his life and was in numerous films in Hollywood and appeared on Broadway.

In his early years he worked with KFFA Radio, in Helena, Arkansas and then was hired by Sam Phillips as the first National Sales and Promotion Manager for Sun Records in Memphis. One of his biggest acts was that Cecil booked Elvis Presley in 1955 to a Helena, Arkansas show although he also worked with Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Mann and Charlie Rich at Sun Records. Sam Phillips then asked him to move his family to Palm Beach, Florida where he managed the nations first all girl radio station, WLIZ.

In the early 1960s the family made their last move and it was to Nashville where he opened the third multitrack recording studio in Nashville. He later created one of the first gospel labels in the nation, ''Songs of Faith'', which celebrated the Gospel Music Industry’s first million selling record, ''Sorry I Never Knew You'''. When Cecil retired in 1998 he had in his desk the receipt from where he paid the original charter fee for the Gospel Music Association of which he was one of the original founders. Scaife's other achievements include having served on the National Board of Governors/Grammy Awards Committee, serving as a lifetime elector to the Country Music Hall of Fame Committee, a member of the Country Music Association and the National Association of Recording Merchandisers. He also served as president of the Nashville Chapter of the Recording Academy (NARAS) and was responsible for bringing in his friend, Dick Clark, to host the Nashville segment of the Grammy Awards Show which was featured on the national Grammy Award show. He was commended for serving on President Nixon's council to combat drug abuse in the entertainment industry and being recognized by the Religious Heritage of America for his work. He was an executive with CBS Records for many years where he had the distinct honor of giving Johnny Cash his Gold Record Award for ''I Walk the Line''. Cecil Scaife retired due to illness in 1998 after running Music Incorporated which he and his wife Sherytha stared together the early seventies. It was one of the largest Christmas Music Catalogues in the country.

Cecil Scaife was a renaissance man in the truest sense of the word. He was known for his dapper fashion sense and loved to dress up. He wore many hats, literally. He was most known for his black cowboy hat and his Tennessee Walking horses but had a true love of the sea and was often seen in his ''Captain's'' cap. He designed his beloved yacht, Commodore's Lady that he docked in Florida and in Nashville for many years. He was a teacher with an open door policy, a Gideon reaching out to others, a disciplined coach, an award winning record producer, a loyal friend, a true cowboy, a caring and generous father and a loving and doting husband.

Cecil Scaife was a visionary and was the force behind the music business program at Belmont University. He was a Music Row pioneer and veteran, and was the visionary that planted the seeds for what has blossomed into today’s thriving Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. He knew Belmont had a Music Education department and a Business department and he suggested to then President of Belmont College, Dr. Herbert Gabhart, that he consider combining the two and form a Music Business Department. He asked his good friend Bob Mulloy to help him create and then oversee the project and throughout the years under Bob’s watchful eye, it became the world-renowned Curb College. The Cecil Scaife Visionary Award has been established in his honor and was given earlier this week to Record Producer Tony Brown. Last years recipient of the Cecil Scaife Visionary Award was Mike Curb.

Cecil Scaife was a member of the Soujorners Class at First Baptist Church in Nashville. On March 5, 2009 Cecil Ross Scaife died at the age of 81 in Nashville, Tennessee and is buried in a private graveside in historic Mount Olivet Cemetery.


Remaining in Arkansas, Elvis Presley brought his show to the Futrell High School Gym in a small town of Marianna, Arkansas. Unfortunately, there are no ads for this show, and its existence is based solely on personal recollections. There is also the distinct probable that Elvis Presley was in Marianna on June 6, 1955. Carl Perkins remembers playing the back of a flatbed truck with Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.

Around January 14, Elvis bought a new Martin D-18 guitar, and this time he struck the metal letters forming his name vertically, as opposed to the diagonal position he used on his Martin-18. With a new record out, it seemed everything was now in place for them to move forward. Bob Neal had arranged three weeks of solid bookings.

According to Elvis' guitarist, Scotty Moore he said, ''Along about this time Bob Neal came into the picture. He was a disc jockey on WMPS and now Elvis' manager. He had an early morning country show, five to eight-thirty, something like that. The station boomed down in Mississippi, all the delta land. And he'd been booking a lot of acts into little schoolhouses and so forth. He started booking us. We were kept real busy, going down into places you never even heard of. We'd drive way off out into the country to a little schoolhouse and you wouldn't see a car around. Thirty-forty minutes ahead of time, you know, we would go in and get things set up. Fifteen minutes before the show, it was like an avalanche. Woomp''!

If Bob Neal's earning and expense report for the group is correct, with a total of 18 January dates played, excluding the Hayride shows, there was no show on the 14th. It will be? A postcard marked January 15 to Alexandria disc jockey Al Robinson at KSYL, seems to suggest that Elvis may well have spent his day off writing to as many disc jockeys as he could. On the back of the postcard, Elvis wrote, ''Dear Al, ''You're A Heartbreaker'' if you don't help me with my ''Milkcow Blues Boogie''. He signed if ''Sun Records'' and underneath Elvis Presley''.

Spurred by the enthusiasm of Texarkana disc jockey Uncle Dudley, Tom Parker, Hank Snow manager and former manager of Eddy Arnold and his assistant, Tom Diskin, arrived in Shreveport that night. They booked into the Captain Shreve Motel and zoomed over to the Municipal Auditorium to see the show. If the two Toms were not overly impressed, they were at least interest enough to have conversations with Bob Neal about helping him book some dates for Elvis and his band.

They left with a mutual understanding of how to proceed, and Tom Diskin would working on the situation as soon as he was back home. Ironically, a letter from the very same Tom Diskin would be waiting in Scotty Moore's mailbox, when he got back to Memphis. It was an answer to Scotty's December request about booking dates in the Chicago area, and Diskin implying that Jamboree Attractions would not be able to help with any bookings.

JANUARY 15, 1955

(Above) Letter from Bob Neal, dated January 15, 1955, is addressed to ''Slick'' and touts his new talent as ''the kid (Elvis) is terrific'', and I think he's going to be one of the greatest new stars, in all fields''. This very early letter was spot on in that prediction and represents a time in Elvis Presley's fledging career when everyone was beginning to take notice. The original envelope, postmarked the same day, is addressed simply to disc jockey and promotor ''Mr. Slick Norris, Highlands, Texas''.

Dear Slick:

I enjoyed meeting you in Nashville, and, as I told you have enjoyed getting cards from you. I was in Shreveport last Saturday and was talking with Jimmy.

You may have noted in Billboard that I am now managing ELVIS PRESLEY. The kid is terrific, and I think he's going to be one of the greatest new stars -- in all fields.

Elvis, you know, had the original ''white'' record of ''That's All Right Mama'' and it was his first big hit. Matter of fact it was the best selling C&W record in Memphis last year. I'd appreciate it if you'd help on his new one -- ''You're a Heartbreaker'' b/w ''Milk Cow Blues Boogie'' on SUN. Most DJs in the South have been supplied.

Thanks for everything, and hope I see you when I'm in Shreveport one of these Saturday's soon.

Kindest regards,



Back in Shreveport, Elvis Presley made another appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride". Introduced as ''one of the newest and finest stars'' Elvis sings "Hearts Of Stone", ''That's All Right'', ''Tweedlee Dee'' and "Money Honey". In a rust suit, pink socks, and purple tie with black dots, he most definitely stood out from the other acts that night.

On that fateful evening sat for the first time a man in the audience who connected with Elvis forever. A former barker at fairs and current manager of Hank Snow, who was known as Colonel Tom Parker.

Parker and his assistant, Tom Diskin, arrived in Shreveport that night. They booked into the Captain Shreve Motel and zoomed over to the Municipal Auditorium to see the show. Col. Parker was not overly impressed, but was at least interest enough to have conversations with Bob Neal about helping him book some dates for Elvis and his band.

After the show, there were always new girls to meet, old friends to see, and Elvis Presley basked in the celebrity status.

D.J. Fontana recalled that, "Elvis had barrels of energy. We'd get off a date at night and have to drive maybe four hundred to five hundred miles and he was so keyed up he'd wanna talk all night. So we'd stop the car at a restaurant and me or Scotty or Bill - whoever's turn it was - would walk him down the road a mile or so".



Composer: - Edward Ray-Rudolph Jackson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Regent Music
Matrix number: - FRA1-8156 - 10-inch Acetate courtesy of Joey Kent, Louisiana Hayride
Were recorded from a badly scratched, one of a kind, acetate (1:59)
Recorded: - January 15, 1955
Released: - 1996
First appearance: - The Louisiana Hayride Archive Volume 1 (CD) 500/200rpm BGR-0246-2 mono
Reissued: - November 2011 MRS (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 3001256-4

Excellent example of the versatility of a great blues song. Originally recorded by The Jewels (Original Sound and Rhythm and Blues labels, 1954), it was covered by The Charms (DeLuxe, 1954) led by Otis Williams. The Fontaine Sisters (Dot, 1955), the white girl trio who covered many back hits, successfully re-cut it as well, and Kentucky's Red Foley scored with a country version (Decca, 1954). After Creedence Clearwater Revival disbanded, John Forgerty recorded as the Blue Ridge Rangers (Fantasy, 1973) and revived ''Hearts Of Stone''. Other recordings by Bill Black Combo (Hi, 1961); Johnny Preston (Mercury); Connie Francis (MGM); Sandy Nelson (Imperial); Stoneground (Warner Bros.); Al Caiola (UA). Sequel record ''Hearts Can Be Broken'' by the Jewels (Imperial, 1955).

Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Crudup Music
Matrix number: - FRA1-8158 - 10-inch Acetate courtesy of Joey Kent - Louisiana Hayride
Were recorded from a badly scratched, one of a kind, acetate (2:41)
Recorded: - January 15, 1955
Released: - November 1993
First appearance: - Boxtree Records (CD) 500/200rpm MCPS BOX 001 mono
Reissued: - November 2011 MRS (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-5 mono

Composer: - Winfield Scott
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Unichappell Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - FRA1-8154 - 10-inch Acetate courtesy of Joey Kent - Louisiana Hayride
Were recorded from a badly scratched - one of a kind - acetate (2:11)
Recorded: - January 15, 1955
Released: - February 5, 1999
First appearance: - RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 07863 67675 2-2-17 mono
Reissued: - November 2011 MRS (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-6 mono

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar
Scotty Moore - Electric Lead Guitar
Bill Black - Acoustic Upright Bass
Leon Post - Piano
Sonny Trammel - Steel Guitar



Elvis appeared two days in Booneville, Mississippi. Also on the show were Jim Ed and Maxine Brown. In a radio interview with Lynn McDowell, a disc jockey at WBIP, in Booneville, Mississippi, further demonstrates Elvis Presley willingness to discuss his own talent as an outgrowth of black music. As they talked at length about his Tupelo childhood - Booneville was twenty-five miles north of Tupelo - Elvis Presley used the interview to praise Mississippi's influence upon his music.

Elvis Presley talked about Arthur Crudup's "Rock Me Mama", and how it changed his attitude toward the blues. When Elvis Presley left the WBIP studio, McDowell remarked that he had been given a history lesson in the blues. "I'm a country musician Elvis, but that blues stuff sure sounds good", McDowell remarked. "Thank you, sir. It's my pleasure to be here", Elvis remarked. After they went off the air, Elvis Presley again thanked McDowell for the chance to plug his record, and they continued to talk for almost an hour.


In anticipation of Elvis' upcoming show, the Booneville Banner (from January 13, 1955) gave Elvis Presley the first front page story of his career. This honer came in the form of a brief article, "Kiwanians To Sponsor Hillbilly Show Here", with accompanying photograph.

"The fastest-rising country music star in the nation", as the Banner referred to Elvis, resumed his tour with the Browns.

On this date they appeared at 8:00 p.m. at the Auditorium of Booneville's Northeast Mississippi Community College in Mississippi. In the afternoon, Elvis Presley stopped by the studios of WBIP radio for an interview with Lynn McDowell to plug his appearance. The newspaper headline, the show was sponsored by the Booneville Kawanis Club, which was raising money for country-wide projects.


Staying in Mississippi, Elvis Presley and the Browns played Corinth. The show, which was a benefit for the local Jaycees, began at 7.30 p.m. at the Assembly Hall of the Alcorn County Courthouse. Also on the bill were the popular local singing duo Buddy and Kay: Buddy Bain was a local disc jockey on WMCA radio, and Kay Crotts was a 15-year old singer from Michie, Tennessee.

Admission was 50-cents for children and $1.00 for their parents. Here, on this show, Elvis Presley and Kay Crotts singing duet together on a Blackwood Brothers song, "I'm Feeling Mighty Fine".

Howard Hopkins, entertainment chairman for the Jaycees is in charge of promoting the show here. A portion of the proceeds will be set aside for the Jaycee playground fund in Corinth.

"We were going to sing a gospel song on our show entitled "I'm Feeling Mighty Fine". We all had little practice sessions before going out on stage", recalled Buddy Bain, "and Kay and I were singing over in a corner, and Elvis Presley walked over and said, 'Buddy, scoot on over, you can't sing that song. Let me sing it with Kay'. So he and Kay sang it, and he did his version much different from the way I did mine. 'Cause I did mine just plain, and he did his, 'Well-uh, uh-uh', you know, like he did. Well, Kay didn't really like it, at least she said she didn't, but I was real jealous of the way they sung it, and he just kept singing it over and over again, there's no telling how many times they sung that chorus, he just didn't know when to stop. But he got on stage, it was all over".

According to Buddy Bain, a local disc jockey said, ''Bob Neal was managing Elvis then and had paid a couple of young girls to come along and scream.

That wasn't too unusual by the way. You have a couple of girls start up, and the others pick it up and it warms up the audience some. The kids stopped pretty quick after they figured they'd given their money's worth''.

''But from the minute Elvis walked on, just stood in front of them with the stance and that lopsided grin, or sneer, if you thought of it that way, and struck a couple of chords on his guitar, they started screaming and they didn't stop. And neither did the rest of the audience. It was pandemonium backstage afterwards; it was pouring girls''.

''What're you going to do with them all, Elvis'? I asked him. ''I don't know about the rest', he said, 'but I know one thing. I'm going to pick me the prettiest and get out of here', which he did.

I was fast asleep by the time he came in. I was living with my mama at the time. She'd broken her hip and was just as feisty and outspoken as ever. She made him breakfast the next morning and Elvis was real appreciative, he kept thanking her over and over again for the breakfast and the sofa and finished off his goodbye with a hug and a big kiss planted smack on her lips. I hope he was out the door when her mouth with the back of her hand and said, 'Huh! What's that young fella want to go slobbering all over me for''? Outside our house, it was like backstage the night before, pandemonium.

The girls had spotted Elvis' car there and they came charging in, we couldn't believe my eyes, but they ripped that sofa to pieces, it was nothing but a wooden frame by the time they were finished''.

HUBERT E. BUDDY BAIN – Was a mainstay of ''live'' mid-South local radio in the 1940s, starting in Jackson, Mississippi in 1943 with the Loden Family, then WNOX in Knoxville and the Renfro Valley Barn Dance. He worked with the Blue Seals Pals group through the 1940s, playing first on WJOI in Florence, Alabama and then on WSM in Nashville. He was a traditional country singer himself, who had grown up admiring Gene Autry and Jimmie Rodgers.

He had met Sam Phillips at WLAY in Muscle Shoals, and he knew the Elvis Presley family from the Tupelo area, where he had grown up and where his sisters Mary and Marie had worked with Gladys Presley in the sewing room at Reed Manufacturing Company.

When the Blue Seals Pals broke up, Bain carried on with WSM on his own for a while and then could be heard with Eddie Hill on WMPS in Memphis from 1949 through the early 1950s until he moved to WCMA at Corinth, Mississippi. His group in the mid-1950s included Kay Crotts, a young girl vocalist, Merle Taylor (also known as Mason Dixon), Dexter Johnson from the Blue Seals Pals and sometimes a young guitarist, Terry Thompson.

When Sam Phillips brought not only the first record but Elvis himself down to radio station WCMA in Corinth one sweltering day the previous summer. Buddy played it ("Well, I played "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", "That's All Right" was a little too much for me") and interviewed Elvis Presley himself for about ten minutes on the air.

In 1955, Buddy Bain recorded for Meteor Records in Memphis with singer Kay Crotts and travelling to Memphis for the session, which was held on December 5 1955. Then in 1957 Buddy Bain married Kay Crotts and so on she have been Kay Bain ever since. After the Meteor disc, Buddy Bain took his band to the new Tune Records studio in Florence, Alabama, run by James Joiner and in 1960 he and Kay recorded with Joiner's house band that included Terry Johnson on guitar. Bain continue as popular country music entertainer on radio and TV until Buddy died on May 27, 1998. Buddy and Kay sang together for 46 years, 23 of them on Channel-9 TV in Tupelo, Mississippi. Kay Bain continues to present an early show on WTVA Tupelo.

Buddy Bain remembered and said: "You know, they came to make fun of him, but they ended up backstage practically trying to tear him apart. He was the show, even then, it wasn't like anything you ever heard. But there was one little thing that happened before the show I'll never forget. They got in the middle of the afternoon, and we had a little two-story house in Corinth, my mother and I, and we had a girl that would come in and cook for us because my mother was in a wheelchair''.

''Well, I invited Elvis and Maxine and Jim Ed over to the house. And before we had supper, we gave Jim Ed and Maxine my bedroom to lie down in and take a nap. And Elvis said, 'I'd like to lie down, too. The living room sofa's fine for me'.

So he lay down on this long red plastic sofa that we had, with his feet over the end, he just went right out. And when I woke him up for supper, the little girl that worked for us, Martha Morris, had filled that table full of food, but all he would eat was some corn bread, and he asked if we didn't have any buttermilk. Well, I chased down to the store for it, and he just crumbled up that corn bread in the buttermilk and ate a whole lot of it and said, 'This is delicious. Just what I want'. After supper was over, my mother was sitting by the window, looking out like she always did, and Elvis went over and said, 'Mrs. Bain, I really enjoyed the meal'. And he kissed her on the cheek, which my mama wasn't used to because I didn't ever kiss her, I just said, 'Thank you, Mama'. She was a stern woman. When he went out of the room for a minute, she said, 'Who was that slobbering all over me?'. I said, 'Mama, that was Elvis Presley'. She said, 'I wondered who that was".

"Then we all sat down and looked at my scrapbooks. I had lots of pictures from my early career, in Nashville and Raleigh, North Caroline, and the famous Renfro Valley Barn Dance, and he said to me, 'I hope someday I can be as famous as you are. I sure would like to get to Nashville someday'. And you know what I said to him? I remember it as well as if it were yesterday. I said, 'Elvis, if you'll learn you some good country songs, you just might get on the Grand Ole Opry'. Of course he was very polite and thanked me, and then we went to the show".

ABOUT KAY BAIN - Kay Crotts Bain was born in Corinth, Mississippi, and began to sing when she was just four years old. After being involved in many school plays and musicals, Kay was invited at the age of thirteen to sing on Buddy Bain's Farm And Home Hour on WCMA in Corinth.

After graduating high school, she joined Buddy Bain and the Buddies, opening shows for stars like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and many stars of the Grand Ole Opry.

In March of 1957, The Buddy Bain Show made its first appearance on WTVA as a half-hour show airing live on Wednesday nights. Buddy and Kay married soon after on June 22, 1957.

Later, Buddy and Kay were asked to host the Sunshine Talent Showcase, featuring guests like Tammy Wynette. They continued to work in radio alongside their weekly live telecasts, and were invited to perform at the Grand Ole Opry for the first of several times in 1971.

In October of 1978, Buddy and Kay once again returned to WTVA, this time to host a daily program called Mornin'. Among the nationally-known celebrities who have shared a cup of coffee with them were Art Linkletter, Patsy Montana, J.D. Sumner, and Bill Anderson. Country superstar Tim McGraw made his first television appearance on the show in 1991. The popularity of Mornin' led to Buddy and Kay receiving an invitation in 1994 to appear on the syndicated country music show Hee Haw.

Buddy and Kay were always on the road, entertaining at nursing homes, festivals, and special events across the area. Their charitable work with organizations like the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the Diabetes Foundation was honored multiple times, including a declaration of November 3, 1996 as "Buddy And Kay Day" by the Mississippi Legislature.

Kay has continued her charitable work and entertaining since Buddy's passing in 1997, earning her own recognition for her dedicated efforts for charitable organizations. And she continues to bring her many fans Kay Bain's Saturday Mornin' Show, continuing a legacy of music and entertainment that has made her legend. She's proud to be part of the WTVA family, and to be able to share her special gifts with people all over North Mississippi.


Before his Sheffield, Alabama, performance, Elvis Presley and his band visit to radio station WJOI, across the river, in Florence, Alabama, and Tommy Van Sandt, son of the owner of the station. Tommy had a Saturday night show for the teenagers at the Sheffield Community Center and promoting the show on the air. During the day, Elvis Presley and his band recorded Big Joe Turner's ''Shake, Rattle And Roll'' and of course, maybe more at the studio of the station.

About the Sheffield Community Center recalled Sam Phillips: ''The feeling was that you hadn't made it until you had played the Sheffield Community Center. Today that's hard to believe, but that's how it was''.



Composer: - Charles Calhoun-Lou Willie Turner
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Campbell Conelly Corporation Limited
Matrix number – None - Acetate (2:22)
Recorded: January 19, 1955
Released: - August 3, 2012
First appearance: - FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-3-8 mono
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-1-26 mono

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley – Vocal & Guitar
Scotty Moore – Guitar
Bill Black – Upright Bass



Elvis Presley travelled to Sheffield, Alabama, for a personal appearance at 8:00 p.m. at the Sheffield Community Center, sponsored by the Jaycees. Tickets were 75-cents in advance and $1.00 at the door. Children were 50-cents beforehand and 75-cents on the night of the show. The local newspapers reports that Elvis Presley's appearance is one of the most successful dates ever at the community center.

That night Elvis and the band played ''That's All Right'' and ''Tweedlee Dee'' among others, and according to several sources, ''he stole the show in 15 minutes''.


The tour continued with an 8:00 p.m. performance in the Al-High School Gymnasium in Leachville, Arkansas. Proceeds from the show went to help Leachville High's senior class. He performed ''That's All Right'', ''Hearts Of Stone'' and ''Tweedle Dee''. Though the majority of residents of Leachville are white, Hispanic residency has increased significantly in the modern era, effecting a cultural change.

Current businesses include two banks, three restaurants (including a Mexican cafe), a drugstore, four gas stations, a furniture store, an auto parts store, beauty salons, seven churches, and a branch of Blytheville’s Arkansas Northeastern College. Howard Funeral Service was established in Leachville in 1917 and is the oldest business in town still in operation. Medical needs are met by a Main Street clinic, a vital asset to the farming industry and the Leachville community as a whole, since the city of Leachville is located thirty miles from the nearest hospital.

The rejuvenated city park is behind the elementary school and offers baseball fields, tennis courts, a walking track, barbecue grills, picnic tables, and playground equipment.

The city government is maintained by a small group, including the mayor, a city clerk/recorder, aldermen, three police officers, and a police chief. City Hall is a modest building on Main Street next to the library and the police station. It also houses the water company and a courtroom where local cases are tried.


Elvis Presley, Jim Ed and Maxine Brown, and Bob Neal, travelled just across the Missouri border to Sikeston. Before the show, Elvis Presley dropped by KSIM radio and was interviewed by up-and-coming country singer Onie Wheeler, a regular entertainer at the station.

Afterward, according to Floyd Presley of Sikeston who was the brother of Elvis grandfather, J.D. Presley, Elvis dropped by for supper, which was prepared by Floyd's wife, Mary Etta. Elvis was still driving a Cadillac with Bill Black's bass strapped to the top.

Elvis Presley arrived at the Armory in Sikeston while Earl Wade and Loyd Johnson, two members of the Missouri National Guard, were putting up folding chairs for the evening show. Elvis, who was unknown to the two men, knocked loudly on the Armory door until he was allowed in. He was in an obvious hurry and asked if he could use the rest room.

As Loyd showed the way he asked the young man if he knew if Elvis Presley was a white boy or black. The stranger told Lloyd, "He's is a white boy who just sounds black". A few minutes later, the young man went back outside and soon returned carrying a large Piggly Wiggly grocery sack.

He asked Earl and Lloyd where the dressing rooms were. Lloyd, who was the talkative one, replied that the dressing rooms were for that Presley boy. Elvis said, "I am that Presley boy". When Earl later realized the significance of their earlier conversation, he laughed so much it hurt. He took Elvis to the dressing room where Elvis turned the grocery sack upside down. Out plopped a pink silk suit. Earl said he had never seen anything like it. Elvis told him he got the suit in Memphis, on Beale Street.

The 8:00 p.m. show at the red brick National Guard Armory in Sikeston was billed as the Jimmy Haggett Jamboree, and was a benefit to raise money for the local Guard unit. Haggett was a disc jockey on KBOA radio in nearby Kennett.

Tickets for the show were $1.00 for adults and 50-cents for children, and each act received $50.00. Approximately 100 people turned out to see Elvis Presley.

Elvis Presley was a huge success, although there are reports that the crowd was on the small side. According Charlie Terrell, the show's promoter who also managed Onie Wheeler and who also operated trucking companies from his base in Sikeston, "the crowd was amazed by (Elvis) talent and charisma". Bob Neal, managing Elvis Presley, contacted Terrell and placed Onie Wheeler on tours booked through Colonel Tom Parker and Hank Snow's Jamboree's Attractions. Neal also assumed Onie's management for a while.

"I went with Elvis Presley to Sikeston, Missouri, on January 21, 1955, and he performed with such intensity that he came off stage and went straight into the men's room with water dripped from his head", Marcus Van Story recalled. "I asked him why he was performing so hard", Van Story continued. Elvis Presley replied. That night, they drove back to Memphis and stopped in Truman, Arkansas, for some food. "Elvis ate three cheeseburgers and then ordered three", van Story chuckled.

"The lady asked Elvis if he planned to pay for everything". "Yes, ma'am", Elvis replied. "That night Elvis Presley unburdened himself", Van Story continued. "He told me that he never forgot how poor he felt living in the Lauderdale Court. Elvis was haunted by his poverty.

So, he was committed to the music", said Van Story. "He would practice in the washroom downstairs at the Lauderdale Court and try to learn from other musicians". Afterward, according to Doyle Nelson of Onie Wheeler's band, everyone went to the Lakeview Inn, a small nightclub around the corner and a few blocks away from the Armory, to hear Wheeler perform. Elvis Presley and the Browns joined Wheeler on stage as part of the evening's merriment, and Elvis Presley even played the drums while Wheeler sang. Scotty Moore and Bill Black didn't stay at the Lakeview long, preferring to drive back to their Memphis homes. Elvis and his friend from Lauderdale Courts, Farley Guy, remained in Sikeston and spent the night with his great uncle, Floyd Presley. Farley remembers and said, "Elvis took me with him to a concert in Sikeston, Missouri when he first started touring. He was singing there with Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. That was the only trip I ever took with him after he began singing".

"Onie Wheeler joined Elvis for a while when Elvis was just starting to happen", recalled Onie's friend and guitarist A.J. Nelson. "That was around 1954 or '55. Elvis liked Onie. He used to come to Sikeston and see Onie in this little club we played in. Elvis talked Onie into going on the road with him. So Onie talked to us about leaving Sikeston because we weren't making any money. He wanted us to stay there, stay together, so he'd have something to come back to in case he didn't like working with Elvis. Onie stayed with Elvis for about six months and then came back to Missouri. He didn't want any more of it. We were glad he came back. Our band wasn't anything without Onie. Nobody was coming just to see us".

"At that point Charlie Terrell started managing Onie and he got him some outside work by himself. He'd get him jobs playing with established stars. One of them, for example, was Jimmie Work. That was the period, right after Elvis, that he recorded "Onie's Bop". I didn't do that record with him. He did that one himself".

ELVIS VISITED SIKESTON IN 1955 AND THE STORY ABOUT EARL WADE - When Elvis Presley first performed in Sikeston, no one really knew who Presley was, according to Earl Wade of Blodgett. Even Wade admitted he didn't know Presley when he met him.

"I was in the National Guard (in Sikeston) and I was helping set up chairs at the armory," Wade recalled. During this time Wade was interrupted by a young man trying to get into the front door of the Armory. "Lloyd Johnson and I had the door shut and he was rattling the door and said he had to go to the bathroom. So we showed him."

Later the same young man returned carrying a Piggly Wiggly sack with something pink and silky hanging out. "I thought it was a pink, silky dress, but he said it was suit he got from Beale Street," Wade said. The young man proceeded to ask where the dressing room was, Wade explained. "I told him where it was and said but that's for Elvis Presley. He said, ‘I am Elvis Presley,'" Wade laughed.

Byron "Barney" Caldwell of Sikeston was also working for the National Guard when Presley visited. "I rented a piano for $15 for him so he didn't have to rent one," Caldwell said about the first visit. "I watched him perform and it was a small crowd. I didn't think too much about it."

Wade remembered a few parents not being impressed by some of Presley's moves. "Some of the mothers took their daughters out when he started doing the hoochy-coochy stuff," said Wade, referring to Presley's then detested — and unheard of — gyrating moves.

Caldwell called Presley a regular fellow. "It was just people weren't familiar with the type of twisting and hadn't come around yet. He probably did more of that on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,'" said Caldwell, now 78. When Presley returned later that year on Sept. 7, attendance topped 1,100 at the Armory, with some even turned away at the door. Johnny Cash also appeared with Presley both times. This time Presley was dressed a little better and arrived in a pink Cadillac, Wade said. His parents, Gladys and Vernon Presley, were also along.

"He went from rags to riches in a hurry," Wade said. A then 20-year-old Chris Tyrone from Portageville was fortunate enough to witness one of Presley's visits. She said she learned of Presley's visit from an advertisement in the local newspaper. "I just remember I was just thrilled to see him," recalled Tyrone, now of Sikeston. "He was just starting out. Presley rocked the Armory with tunes like "That's All Right, Mama" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky."

"He's just a young kid full of energy and didn't have an ounce of fat on him. I remember he couldn't be still. He was always jumping or jerking, and his hands were always sweaty. I remember shaking his hand and feeling wetness. I'll never forget it," Wade said. As time goes by it's definitely difficult to remember exact details about Presley's visits, but there are some memories that will never fade, Wade noted.

"I overheard him (Presley) say he didn't drink, didn't smoke and his biggest weakness is women," Wade said. Caldwell's most memorable moment of Presley's visit was when he left after his first performance. "The first time he was here in an older car that didn't run good and he parked it behind the Armory," Caldwell said. "When he left, some of the fellows had to push him to get him started, and I remember him turning back and waving to us as he drove out of town."

Wade remembers Presley, who was a relative to Floyd and Mary Eta Presley of Sikeston (Presley's grandfather, J.D. Presley, was the brother of Floyd Presley), as a happy go lucky and a good looking kid, he said. "I could tell he was going somewhere. The younger generation liked Elvis and he would cut up a lot during his shows. He was kind of a clown," Wade said.

That September was the last time Presley performed in Sikeston. In late 1955, his recording contract was sold to RCA Victor. By 1956, he was an international sensation. But Wade didn't let the opportunity pass him by. Right before Presley left the second time, Wade captured a photo of Elvis in front of his Cadillac.

Caldwell recalled returning home to his wife following one of the Presley's performances. She had asked him who performed that night at the Armory. Caldwell told his wife: "Well, he was a man named Elvis Presley and I've never heard of him, but I'll say one thing, he's different. We're transitioning into something different, and I'm not sure what it is - only time will tell''.

- Sikestone Standard Democrat 2005


Elvis Presley left early in the morning and drove back to Memphis to pick up Scotty Moore and Bill Black. After a full day of driving, they performed that evening on the Louisiana Hayride. That night, ''That's All Right'' was still a given in Elvis repertoire. He also featured the equally popular B-side ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' and ''I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine'' from the second single, but instead of his new record, he chosen the Drifters ''Money Honey''.
While preparing to go on stage for his show, Elvis Presley was informed by Horace Logan that Tom Perryman, a Gladewater, Texas promoter, had booked Elvis Presley for five dates in Texas and Alabama.

It took Logan a great deal of time to negotiate the contract, because the "Hayride" wanted more money for Elvis' appearances. Perryman, a shrewd promoter, hoped to make quick killing with this Elvis tour. Reluctantly, he agreed to a $750-a-night guarantee.
The haggling over the price forced the promoter to blitz his concert sites with posters, newspapers ads, and radio jingles.

Tickets sold out for these five shows within three days. Logan and the Hayride's management team were amazed by the tickets sales. Perryman, an astute judge of musical talent, failed to inform Logan that Elvis Presley records were being played more than any artist on East Texas radio.



Were recorded from a badly scratched, one of a kind, 10-inch acetate courtesy of Joey Kent - Louisiana Hayride

Composer: - Jesse Stone
Publisher: - A.S.C.A.P. - Walden Music Corporation
Matrix number: - FRA1-8153 - Not Originally Issued (2:49)
Recorded: - January 22, 1955
Released: - 1996
First appearance: - The Louisiana Hayride Archive Volume 1 (CD) 500/200rpm BGR-0246-2 mono
Reissued: - November 2011 MRS (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-7 mono

Composer: - William Smith ''Bill'' Monroe
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Peer International Corporation
Matrix number: - FRA1-8157 - Not Originally Issued (1:59)
Recorded: January 22, 1955
Released: 1979
First appearance: Virgin Records LP) 33rpm KING 1 mono
Reissued: - November 2011 MRS (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-8 mono

Composer: - Mack David
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Famous Chappell Limited
Matrix number: - FRA1-8154 - Not Originally Issued (2:26)
Recorded: - January 22, 1955
Released: - 1996
First appearance: - Louisiana Hayride (CD) 500/200rpm CDE 1055 mono
Reissued: - November 2011 MRS (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-9 mono

Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Crudup Music
Matrix number: - FRA1-8152 - Not Originally Issued (1:43)
Recorded: - January 22, 1955
Released: - February 5, 1999
First appearance: - RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 07863 67675 2-2-15 mono
Reissued: - November 2011 MRS (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-10 mono

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)
Leon Post - Piano
Sonny Trammel - Steel Guitar



Colonel Tom Parker informs Bob Neal by letter that he has booked Elvis on the Hank Snow Tour from February 14 to 18, sending both a contract and a check made out to Elvis Presley for $425, a 50 percent advance on what he can expect to earn for the tour.


Elvis Presley was arrested for speeding eighty miles per hour (in a forty-five mile per hour zone) along a narrow two-lane road in Cado Parish, Louisiana. He was brought to the jail where Ralph Farris processed him. Ralph Farris remembers Elvis as being a polite young man with one fault - his foot was heavy on the gas pedal.

"He was just a simple young man", said Farris. "He didn't ask questions or give me any static like so many of 'em did in those days. He was just very polite, done what I asked him to do. We went through the process and he was on his way". That process amounted to Elvis posting a twenty-five dollar appearance bond for a later court date. Elvis didn't show in court and forfeited the money.


During this week, Elvis Presley headlined a swing through East Texas in a series of dates booked by Tom Perryman of KSIJ radio in Gladewater. Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black were paid a total of $150 per show plus $10 a day for travel expenses. Appearing along with Elvis Presley were Jim Ed and Maxine Brown.

Tonight's show was in the middle of an oil field at the Recreation Hall at the Humble Oil Camp near Hawkins, Texas. Admission for this 8:00 p.m. show and dance that followed was $1.00 for adults. The crowd numbered about two hundred, and they were "hanging from the windows", according to Perryman.

Colonel Tom Parker sends a Western Union telegram to George Daniels in Roswell, New Mexico. The message requests that show in Roswell be changed to two shows on Monday, February 14. Lineup includes Hank Snow and Elvis Presley among others.

THE STORY ABOUT HAWKINS OIL CAMP - in that thriving urban metropolis of Hawkins, rock-abilly convert Doil Stone heard that East Texas would host Elvis for a winter tour starting the end of January. Tom Perryman, disc jockey and radio station manager at KSIJ Radio in Gladewater, had already scheduled the young singer in Tyler and Gilmer, and Doil contrived to drag Elvis Presley back to Hawkins, even though his own soul would surely catch the express train to the fiery pit of eternal damnation, according to Deacon Smith.

Doil, however, was Hawkin's star pitcher, and it just so happens that his team manager, Don Franks, was a bigwig in Humble Oil and Refinery, the company that placed their fair town on the map and put the ol' in ol' ya'll.

Like many towns in Texas, Hawkins owed its existence to the miraculous sludge found deep under the red clay; oil that is, Black Gold, Texas Tea. After its explosive discovery at the turn of the century, companies tripped over themselves to stake their claims from the Panhandle to the Gulf of Mexico. But the Big Three: the Texas Company now known as Texaco; the one named for the nearby body of water, Gulf Oil Corporation; and Humble Oil, (a.k.a. Esso, a.k.a. Exxon, a.k.a. Exxon Mobil) reined supreme. Together, they carved the state into viability sectors... too deep, potential, moderate find, and their' she blows: Oil camps, towns inhabited solely by the oil company employees and their families, popped up in every corner of Texas. The colonists enjoyed all the perks their bountiful employers bestowed upon them; cheap groceries, inexpensive or free housing, a rotation of regular entertainment, and best of all, free gasoline for life.

So when Doil Stone asked Don Franks for his permission to allow Elvis Presley to play their town, the Rumble Oil executive granted his blessing, his influence, and the recreation hall in the oil camp.

On January 24, 1955, Elvis and his two sidekicks traveled the winding roads through the Piney Woods of East Texas to begin the winter tour in front of his earliest groupies. Just like before, Elvis received a generous 80 percent of the proceeds. All devotees paid a modest dollar. That's three new freshly minted 45s; eight gallons of gas if you have to pay for it, 11/4 hours of baby-sitting; eight movies, four cartoons, and four newsreels; or two autographed pictures of the King before he became royalty.

Concerned that Elvis might not pull a large enough crowd by himself, Tom Perryman booked popular country singers Jim Ed and Maxine Brown to pad the ticket. He needn't have worried. The little rec hall only held 150, and those teenagers were stuffed in that night like color-coordinated sardines. Kids hung in the open windows and reclined on the grounds around the building as the hillbilly jam thumped the wooden walls and echoed off the adjoining live oaks, giving Tyler a taste of the treat awaiting them the following evening. The performers played their entire repertoire, but the enthusiastic crowd begged them to stay just five more minutes, and then five minutes more.

Long after the bass lay packed in its case and the others escaped to the Res-Mor Motel in Gladewater, Elvis leaned against the ancient piano and sang the gospel hymns he cut his teeth on. The Hawkins kids urged him to sing slowly so they could appreciate his beautiful voice, and to save the strain on his throat, which hinted at a full-blown bout of laryngitis.

Elvis autographed pictures for the high school students, pictures for visitors from surrounding cities who planned to catch the show two nights later in Gilmer, pictures for girlfriends who were too shy to ask for his autograph, and at the urging of some of the basketball players, a picture for pretty Lavada Robinson, which bore the inscription.

She was not amused. Stomping off, Lavada threatened to tell Don Franks of the insult on her person.

Elvis never played Hawkins again; no one truly knows why not. No matter, nearly every Hawkins inhabitant under twenty years of age appeared at any of his performances within a fifty-mile radius. They piled into their Chevys and sat on each other's laps for two-plus-hour drives to Louisiana or Texarkana. So many of them appeared at his concert in Gilmer, he inquired politely of the crowd, "Am I in Hawkins?"

Before he went back to the motel in Gladewater that night, he signed stacks of photos until his pen ran out of ink, Elvis borrowed Don Frank's issue corporate pen, given to an for meritorious service over and beyond the call of duty. Not until Elvis was paid and tucked in at the Res-Mor did Franks realize his pen had yen accidentally kidnapped the singer in an open and shut case of kleptomania-scribo. Fourteen miles later, Franks retrieved his prize possession, none the worse for wear and it no ransom paid.

Greatly influenced by his idol, in years to come Doil Stone formed a band of his own, changing his name to Buddy Miller because his father feared someone would discover he had accidentally spawned a musician. Buddy Miller and the Rocking Ramblers rearranged the old Hank Ballard number "The Twist," recorded it, and sent a copy to Dick Clark in hopes that he would play it on that new television program American Bandstand Instead, Clark gave it to a virtual unknown in the business named Chubby Checker, who subsequently did play it on Bandstand, under his own name.

Elvis moved on to Tyler and later to stardom, and eventually the faithful piano moved across town to the church, where it sat next to the pulpit. For years to come, whenever Deacon Smith preached from his perch on the inherent dangers of rock and roll, he unwittingly placed his hand on the very same spot "sinner Presley" laid his when he sang those lovely runs that night in Hawkins.


Buzz Long, now of Big Sandy and a Gladewater disc jockey at the time, recalls a show at the Junior High Gymnasium sponsored by the Jaycees that lost money. It is known that Elvis Presley appeared often in Gladewater, probably beginning in November 1954. His first substantiated appearance in Gladewater was not until April 1955 with the Louisiana Hayride remote, and that was a huge success.


Elvis Presley and his group played the Mayfair Building, located at 2112 West Front Street on the fair grounds in Tyler. The 8:00 p.m. performance cost adults $1.00 with kids admitted for only 50-cents.

Elvis Presley may have been scheduled to perform on a "Grand Prize Jamboree" show at the Eagle's Hall in Houston on this date. However, the lone ad for the event (Houston Post, January 27) lists three acts as headlining: Jimmy and Johnny, Tibby Edwards, and "Peach Seed" Jones, all from the Louisiana Hayride. But, no Elvis Presley.

Billy Walker recalls Elvis Presley performed in Littlefield, Texas. However, a search turned up only the ad for a show by walker with Jimmy and Johnny, but without Elvis Presley.

Colonel Tom Parker sends Western Union telegram to Mrs. D.J. Branhard in Longview, Texas. The message asks if she has any interest in sponsoring a show in Odessa for February 17. lineup includes Hank Snow, the Duke of Paducah, and Elvis Presley, among others.

He send also a Western Union telegram to Bob Neal of WMPS Radio in Memphis. The telegram announced first show Elvis did with Colonel Tom Parker.

According to Molly Hall, ''I sang with Elvis on the stage at the Mayfair building. I was a junior in high school and had sung all my life. I had to borrow a dress to sing in, as we were very poor. I was so proud of that red dress. When I was to come on stage, Elvis told Scotty and Bill to start me off on the wrong key.

He thought that was so funny, of course I was so emberrassed, Elvis ad asked me to sing with him at the Hayride, but unfortunately I was in a car accident and it in the throat, paralyzed my vocal cords, and ended my career''.



Elvis Talks to disc jockey Tom Perryman
Recorded: 1955 (0:16)
Released: - 2003
First appearance: - Gear Production (CD) 500/200rpm ESP 0703 mono
Reissued: - August 3, 2012 FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-3-9 mono


THE STORY ABOUT THE MAYFAIR - So the next morning Elvis hopped in the car to visit his friend and sponsor, Tom Perryman at KSIJ radio. The station and the Perryman household became home base for the East Texas tour. Billie, Tom's wife, fed Elvis Sometimes he stayed at their house when the Res-Mor became overbooked during the "tourist" season.

Elvis practiced in the beautiful tropical wood-lined sound studio at the radio station, and later Tom interviewed him to gab about last night's shindig in Hawkins and to promote the upcoming show in Tyler that evening. Unfortunately, due to the standard procedure of overwriting "worthless"recordings, very few of these pitches remain for posterity.

By 8 p.m. the Mayfair building on the Tyler fairground burst with excitement. Many of Hawkins' rebellious youth piled into cars to see the show again that night, and numbers of Tyler representatives, who danced on the rec hall's lawn, returned to bop in their own fair city. The sum of the crowd consisted of the curious, the bored, and the defiant looking for a hot time on a school night.

One such lurker, Lois Adair, only attended because her friend Betty Bailey dragged her. Good girls didn't frequent concerts by themselves. Jim Ed and Maxine wound up their segment, and Elvis bounded onto the stage. Lois stood transfixed. Oh God, he's beautiful! Oblivious to the sound emanating from the little boy face, Lois applauded with the rest to keep him on stage so she could look at him a while longer. Before the last chord was struck, Lois became determined to get that man's picture.

She grabbed Betty's arm and dragged her through the crowd. Backstage, they elbowed themselves up to the table where Bill Black sold photographs for $1, and Elvis signed them. Lois dredged the bottom of her purse: one tube of lipstick, one clean hanky, a bottle of nail polish borrowed from a friend, two dimes, two quarters, and a nickel. Seventy-five cents; she was short a quarter. Lois dug deeper. She found some lint and an abused aspirin, but no more money. Next to her, Betty's look of despair told Lois that she couldn't cough up any spare finances for her pal. Lois resumed her search and dive expedition but only rescued a safety pin. Over the top of her purse, her eyes met those of Elvis, who had been watching her with a lopsided smile. He proffered her a quarter, which she graciously accepted. Betty took their picture, and when they backed out of the crowd, Lois thought she'd probably never see him again.

The following August, Elvis played the Mayfair building again. After the show, a small crowd collected around the piano where he played with apparently no urgency to leave. When his velvet tenor slid into "Amazing Grace." Lois melted onto the piano bench with him. She decided then and there that he wasn't just a pretty face after all.

Later that night, as teenagers cruised up Broadway, made a U-turn at Webber's, and chugged back down Broadway, Derrick Drive-In and Fuller's Drive-In bustled with business. With 8,000 inhabitants, Tyler boasted two full-time drive-ins, but only Fuller's had an indoor restaurant as well. Carhops zigzagged between finned Chevys, and kids galloped across the gravel to meet their friends just pulling in for a shake. Over the darting hoards, Elvis spotted Lois gossiping with her inner circle.

After the initial introductions, Lois's friends gabbed excitedly with the singer but eventually drifted away to tell other friends who they had just bumped into. Left alone for the moment, Elvis asked Lois if he could give her a lift back to her house and visit for a spell. After a slight hesitation, Lois ducked inside to call her mother. She asked if she could bring home this singer she'd met. He was very nice, very handsome, and she thought he seemed a little homesick.

Absolutely NOT!

Her mother's definitive reply sizzled over the telephone wires, torching the tail feathers of comfortably perched birds. Reluctantly, Lois politely declined his offer.

A year later when that nice young man topped the record charts and appeared on the Dorsey Show, Lois decided to visit him at one of his last performances at the Hayride. Her mission, should she choose to accept it, was to get the photograph signed that Betty took of Lois and Elvis together. Much had changed in one year. Instead of hanging around after the show talking to girls, Elvis hid from the groupies who swarmed him. After his performance, Lois tried to visit backstage, but her path was barred by a security guard with strict rules that under no circumstances will any teenagers, especially of the female persuasion, bother Mr. Presley.

Nature triumphed, however. When the guard sneezed, she flung her 5 foot 2 form past his half-turned back and pelted backstage. Realizing his quarry had fled, he lumbered after her, but she had already reached a congregation of performers. Elvis looked up as she skidded to a stop, the guard panting in hot pursuit. "That's all right, l know this one," the man in pink told the grumbling guard.

Lois never saw Elvis face to face again after that night, but she can content herself with her hard-won autograph, a kiss from a lonely musician, and a great story to tell her customers at the Deep Ellum burger bistro she now owns in Dallas.


Remaining in east Texas, the group played the small town of Gilmer, Texas. Elvis Presley and Jim Ed and Maxine Brown appeared at the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) Building at 7:30 p.m. Admission was $1.00 for adults and 50-cents for students. Jim Ed and Maxine Brown were a highly polished act.

They had a number-eight national hit the previous summer with "Looking Back To See", were comparative veterans of the Hayride, and had an audience that turned out for them every time.

Tom Perryman remembered this show in Gilmer, Texas, near Gladewater: "They did a lot of their harmony gospel songs, and they had their big record, and there was a lot of older family people there. That was the only time I ever saw anybody steal the show from Elvis. Of course it was a big thrill for the Browns".

Not only did Scotty and Bill play behind Elvis, but also behind Jim Ed and Maxine Brown. According to Maxine she said, ''On January 26, 1955, the Browns stole the show from Elvis in Gilmer at the Rural Electric Association building. Then we did it again two days later at the high school in Gaston. I'm sure few stole shows from him after that. I know for sure that the Brown's didn't''.

THE STORY ABOUT GILMER - Tree days into the East Texas winter tour, Elvis, Scotty, and Bill left Tyler and tooled up Highway 155, past the stock ponds and cattle staring unimpressed at passersby. The white pines on either side of the winding road magically transformed the land into a green oasis in the dead of winter, as if North Carolina suddenly planted itself in the middle of the state.

Gilmer, the site of their next performance, lay just a leisurely piece up the road. With no tractors to pass on the two-lane road during winter, they made it to Gilmer with plenty of time to grab a bite at the White Swan Cafe.

They sauntered into the cafe, Elvis sporting long sideburns and a pink and red checkered sport jacket. The eyes of Texas followed them to their booth. Either they were some new kind of musicians, or the circus had snick back into town.

Like his music, Elvis's style drew heavily from the African-American rhythm and blues culture. He bought all his clothes at Lansky's in Memphis, a store not usually frequented by white southern boys. In a time when the Pat Boone white button-down was the accepted norm, the bright colors and be-bop sound simultaneously shocked and attracted audiences into taking notice. But if the old phrase, "good girls fell for Pat Boone, bad girls fell for Elvis" stood truc, then 90 percent of the ternale population of the fifties were bad girls.

Acquiring a table, the threesome politely ordered their supper from the wart' waitress. Every spoonful of chili and pie closely scrutinized, the locals waited breathlessly for the telltale disturbing behavior indicative of rock-a-billy singers, as they suspected these men to be. After two courses and quantities of iced tea, not so much as a gun had been brandished. The disappointed Gilmer inhabitants watched the strangers eat and leave, displaying no outward signs of mental instability.... until that evening.

The performance hall connected to the Gilmer Rural Electrical Cooperative held about 150 but sported a real stage, an impressive addition for a town of fust over 4,000. Surrounding the stage sat two rows composed entirely of Hawkins's devotees chattering excitedly until the Browns started the program. Having caught the show on Monday in Hawkins, the teenagers decided to see it again on Wednesday in Gilmer, where they could still buy tickets.

The perennial favorites Jim Ed and Maxine Brown primed the audience. About half of the turnout came to hear them but were willing to listen to the newcomer Presley play Chose strange up-tempo blues songs. Meanwhile, the kids from Hawkins waited patiently for the Browns to leave the stage so their newly crowned favorite musician could take the stage. They weren't disappointed.

When the last chords of the Browns' harmony faded, Elvis and the Blue Moon Boys vaulted to the stage. Taking their places, left, right, and center, Bill spun his bass and slung hokey, Dixie-cup humor to warm up both the crowd and Elvis, who notoriously got the jitters before performing.

When the audience heated to a rolling boil, Bill stepped forward and wound Elvis with an invisible key, jumping back just in time to miss the leg that started quivering to the screams of the girls in the audience. The leg twitched wildly and the volume cranked to eardrum-bursting level.

When his hips started jerking, the pounding decibels of "That's Alright'', were drowned completely by the atonal shrieks of hormone-effluent females. Fortunately for the performers, an overflow of estrogen apparently makes one tone deaf, because Elvis's strained voice cracked multiple times during his songs.

The case of laryngitis that had threatened for days finally took up residence in his throat, a point not overlooked by the neglected boyfriends in the audience.

To save the wear and tear on his voice, Elvis deputized Johnny Stokes, one of the Hawkins zealots who caught every performance within a fifty-mile radius, into selling autographed photos for him for the customary buck a pop. Johnny took to the task with the vigor of a sideshow barker. For his trouble, he received two signed photos and fair commission for the sales. Johnny would have done it for free, but somehow he never got around to telling Elvis that fact.


Tonight's show was at the Reo Palm Isle, a nightclub located two miles southwest of Longview on U.S. Highway 259. Shows at the Reo usually began about 8:00 p.m., although there was no announced starting time. This evening, adults were admitted for $1.00. Sid Tutt, a lifelong resident of Longview was a senior in high school when he attended this show. Tutt recalls that Elvis Presley played Teen Night at the Reo Palm Isle for 160 people of the 1,800 seats.

Glynn Keeling, the owner, booked the boys as a personal favor to disc jockey Tom Perryman, even though he had never heard of this "Elvis guy." But Reo sales ran sluggish on Thursdays, and the cost of the drinks alone would pay the rent for the evening. The band could split the ticket sales, if there were any.

To hedge his bets, Tom Perryman invited about a hundred friends to the club for the show. They obligingly showed; such was the power of a disc jockey in the fifties. However, almost no one else did. The troop played to a lukewarm scattering of 160 people. None of the Hawkins kids showed. The Reo Palm Isle was a tad too ritzy for the teenage purse and Longview a tad too far to drive on a school night. Besides, everyone knew that the Reo served alcohol, right out in the open, yet.

After the show Elvis circulated through the tables and chatted with folk as he customarily liked to do. One of the few ladies to ask for a photograph that night asked him how he was doing, to which he replied honestly, "If something doesn't happen pretty soon, I'm going to have to go back to driving a truck."

As the boys prepared to leave that evening, Elvis stole a glance at Glynn Keeling's new Ford Crown Victoria painted in limited edition (very limited edition) Tropical Rose.

''I sure do like the color of that car'', Elvis told the owner. The next time Keeling saw Elvis, the young man drove a pink Cadillac.

REO PALM ISLE - Reo Palm Isle, located at Farm Road 1845 and Highway 31 in Longview, Texas, can trace its beginnings to the Palm Isle, which opened on September 12, 1935. The club was owned by the Palm Isle Amusement Corporation, a group formed by George L. Culver, A. G. Carter, Tom Cook, and E. B. (Bill) Deane, with Deane acting as general manager of the club.

This group of men with Texas bravado and a $20,000 investment, wanted to build a place that would be “the largest and most elaborate night club in the South.” The resulting 80-by-180-foot building sported two large fireplaces for heat in the winter and many arched windows for summer ventilation.

The dance floor was made of the finest hardwood and could easily accommodate 1,500 couples with five square feet allotted per person. A twenty-by-thirty-foot stage was constructed to suit any large band. The tables were lined on a spacious raised floor so as to not interfere with the dancers. Harry Little Scenic and Theatrical Enterprise of Dallas designed the lighting, and the Palm Isle boasted one of the finest public address systems with the latest amplifiers and sound equipment available. The five-acre parking lot was ample for the many guests.

Bill Deane promised to “feature the largest, best, and most popular orchestras and musical organizations in the country.” Eddy Duchin and the New York Central Park Casino Orchestra performed at the grand opening, and the second attraction was George Hamilton’s orchestra. Bands that frequented the ballroom during this era included Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Ted Lewis, Ozzie Nelson, Ella Fitzgerald, Jack Teagardenqv, Louis Armstrong, Paul Whiteman, Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians, Jan Garber, Bob Wills, Gene Krupa, Glen Gray, and Herb Cook.

In July 1937 Bill Deane left to become the manager of the Cooper Club, an establishment in nearby Henderson, and the Cooper Club’s Hal Cooper took over management of the Palm Isle. Cooper eventually owned both the Palm Isle and the Cooper Club. In June 1942 Cooper, who was inducted into the service, leased the Palm Isle to Mattie Castleberry without a written agreement. Mattie was the owner of Mattie’s Ballroom, a popular dance hall on the Longview-Kilgore Highway that she had opened on April 19, 1931, during the area’s oil-boom days. She ran both Mattie’s Ballroom and the Palm Isle until 1943.

World War II tightened the supply of gasoline and affected transportation, severely limiting a person’s ability to travel. Castleberry decided to close Mattie’s Ballroom and to buy the Palm Isle from Hal Cooper. The last dance at Mattie’s Ballroom was on March 27, 1943, and Mattie Castleberry officially opened the Palm Isle under her management on April 3, 1943. Mattie didn’t have enough money to purchase the club, but her reputation preceded her, and Cooper allowed her to pay for the club in installments. There was no written contract between the two, and Castleberry paid her complete debt with no problems.

In August 1948 Mattie was diagnosed with cancer, and in May 1951 she sold the Palm Isle to Jack and Neva Starnes acting as agents of Lefty Frizzell. Neva managed the club (which they called Neva’s Palm Isle), but this was to be a short-lived investment.

In December 1951 Sherman Sparks, along with his partner Glynn Keeling, purchased the Palm Isle from Mattie Castleberry. (She died in Marshall, Texas, in August 1954.) Sparks had owned a small club named the Reo in Kilgore, but the establishment burned down. In order to commemorate his former club and establish its connection to the Palm Isle, Sparks renamed the venue the Reo Palm Isle. In July 1956 Sparks sold his ownership in the club to Glynn Keeling. Over the years the Reo Palm Isle has provided a venue for many stars and ascending stars, including Elvis Presley, Jim Reeves, Ray Price, Waylon Jennings, David Frizzell, Boots Randolph, Loretta Lynn, Shelly West, Jerry Lee Lewis, Kenny Sarrett, Frenchie Burke, Willie Nelson, Joe Stampley, Jackie Ward, Johnny Paycheck, Alabama, Boxcar Willieqv, Hank Williams Jr., Ronnie Milsap, Lee Greenwood, Ricky Skaggs, Delbert McClinton, David Allen Coe, and Mickey Gilley. The club's 3,000-square-foot dance floor has been lauded as the largest in East Texas. Other features include pool tables, a mechanical bull, and a restaurant. Reo Palm Isle was rated the best dance hall in Texas Monthly magazine in 1976 and one of the state's top ten clubs in Texas Highways. In the early 2000s the owners of the club were Max and Sharon Singleton.

JANUARY 27, 1955

This time Tom Parker and Tom Diskin begin spreading Elvis name throughout their world of show business acquaintances. Diskin writes to a booking agent in Chicago looking for a TV spot for a ''new boy'' who he believes will be one of the biggest thing in the business.


Closing out the week for Tom Perryman, Elvis Presley and the Browns played the Gaston High School Auditorium in Joinerville, Texas at 8:00 p.m. Admission for students for 50- cents with adult tickets costing $1.00. One more stop on the East Texas tour and the weary compadres could vamoose home.

The band checked themselves out of the Res-Mor Motel in Gladewater on the morning of the 28th, neither party too choked up about the parting. Not exactly the Ritz Carlton, Res-Mor was the only motel within a thirty-mile radius, so either the threesome slept there or on the street. The owners of the Res-Mor, for their part, couldn't wait to get rid of the musicians. Several times they'd threatened to boot them out if the boys didn't clean up their act. The King was one heck of a singer, but two hecks of a slob.

The town of Joinerville sat seven miles west of Henderson during its oil boom in the thirties. Until "Dad" Joiner sold the Daisy Bradford Number 3 to H. L. Runt of Dallas, Joinerville floated atop the largest oil field in the world. In the 1950s, when their neighbor New London literally blew itself off the map, Gaston High School gathered both towns' children into its hallowed halls.

Wallace Read, the band director of the high school, along with several of the band's parents racked their brains for a fundraiser that would actually make money for a change, no pun intended. One day the parents barged into Read's office with a dazzling idea. Some young guy named Presley had wowed them at Hawkins last month. For 60 percent of the proceeds, Elvis Presley could play at their high school auditorium. Apparently the kids liked him for some reason. Read had never heard of this guy. He never listened to that Hayride hillbilly stuff if he could help it. Give him Gershwin any day.

Nevertheless, Read agreed to speak to Superintendent Duran, and if no objections were raised, they might be able to slide Presley themselves in the band room, in for a performance in late Elvis plinking absentmindedly January.

Tom Perryman scribbled Elvis down for the night of January 28 in Joinerville. A final night of the East Texas tour in the town would get Presley back to Shreveport to play at the Hayride the follow-more enthusiastic venue than the previous night's Longview fiasco, Elvis, Scotty, and Bill arrived early to scope out the town. Since downtown Joinerville retained about six businesses, the tour was noticeably brief:

"Welcome to Joinerville - Population 300 and still growing", a post office, a high school, and a barber shop, "Y'all come back, now."

The threesome pulled into a dirt lot. Scotty and Bill took a midwinter's snooze in the car, while Elvis killed time by wandering over to the high school. He bumped into the band director, who took it upon himself to show the new arrival around.

After touring the gymnasium, the two finally parked on the piano while they talked. Read happily informed the young singer that the performance had sold out. The enthusiastic students sold over 600 tickets, far more than the auditorium actually could hold. Fire marshals not two gentlemen had a great deal to smile about. Elvis became psyched; 600 people at a dollar a piece times 60 percent meant a nice healthy paycheck for the end of the East Texas Tour, even if he had to divide it among the troups and pay for his own records, pictures, and equipment. He graciously thanked the band director, who decided he liked the pleasant, respectful young man, even if his music was strange.

That evening as Mr. Read, Superintendent Duran, their wives, and 600 excited teenagers looked on, the quiet, well-mannered boy from that afternoon disappeared into a fiend in a pink suit. Rocketing on stage, Elvis started to quiver like an epileptic. The kids' screams encouraging him, Elvis jerked his head and stared at the audience, forelock falling over his face. They screamed louder. He grunted, and the place exploded. Girls jumped up and down as the man on the stage shook from side to side. Hardly any sound cleared the high-pitched squeals.

Embarrassed by the gyrations on stage, Read turned to apologize to his superintendent. But Duran smiled like a Cheshire cat, rocking back and forth on his heels, dollar signs illuminating his eyes ... cha-ching.

As the band broke for intermission, students mobbed Elvis, wanting to talk to him, touch him, get an autograph. Mr. Read watched the boy very closely for the second half. Wish I was his manager, he thought for the first but definitely not the last time.

After the show Read told the young man that he thought his talent was quite something, and he felt Elvis would really make it. Little did he know how right he was.

Less than a year later, Elvis had become a star, shining on national television. On a band trip in Houston, Read bumped into Elvis outside the Hotel Rice. Elvis recognized the band director immediately, a fact that stunned Read. They had only met once for a couple of hours. But Elvis always had an uncanny recall of people he'd once met. Elvis asked if Read had come to see the show, and the teacher replied honestly that he didn't even know Elvis was playing there. The two parted company and continued their separate paths, the teacher once again returning to his original assessment, the polite young man did indeed have a future, even if he didn't play Gershwin.


Billboard reviewed "Milkcow Blues Boogie", giving it a rating of eighty, while saying "Presley continued to impress". "You're A Heartbreaker" received a rating of seventy-six, and Billboard said it was a "slick country style reading". It was the first Presley song to be placed in jukeboxes outside the South.

In January and February 1955, although still primarily a regional artist, Elvis' music showed the first signs of breaking in other sections of the country. That night, as Elvis Presley proudly read the Billboard review of his third record release to Bill Black, they prepared to appear again at the Eagle's Hall in Houston.

Billboard reported that Bob Neal had flown to Shreveport to confer with emcee (Pappy) Covington and other "Louisiana Hayride" officials regarding future booking for Elvis Presley.

Elvis appeared at the Eagle's Hall in Houston, Texas. The crowds were growing larger at each concert, and Elvis Presley responded with longer performances.

It didn't take Bob Neal long to realize that he could demand more money for Elvis Presley while at the same time obtaining more prestigious bookings. In order to secure new concert venues, Bob Neal flew to Shreveport to discuss the strategy for expanding Elvis' bookings with the "Louisiana Hayride" booking staff. At the "Hayride", it was the a.m. "Pappy" Covington who urged Bob Neal to hold out for a minimum of $750 a night. This price seemed logical due to the increased demand for Elvis' music. As a result, Bob Neal, determined to upgrade his client's earnings, produced a slick brochure extolling Elvis' musical triumphs.

In January, Elvis Presley was interviewed on the "Milkman's Jamboree" radio show broadcast from 10:30 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. over WMPS in Memphis. The host was Dick ("Uncle Richard") Stuart.

Elvis Presley closed the week at the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport.

PAPPY COVINGTON - Booking agent for the "Louisiana Hayride's" artist service bureau who set up the early 1955 tour for Elvis Presley to play Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas (Ark-La- Tex) during the weekdays when Elvis Presley wasn't performing on the Hayride. It was during this tour that Elvis Presley was billed as "The Hillbilly Cat", nicknamed "The King Of Western Bop", and Bill Black and Scotty Moore were called the "Blue Moon Boys".


Elvis Presley may have appeared at Bethel Springs High School in Bethel Springs, Tennessee. A mere 30-50 people braved the poor weather that night. After a set by Bud Deckelman, Elvis stormed on stage, dressed in a pink shirt, black pants, and white shoes. From some sources Elvis performed ''That's All Right'', ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', ''Cotton Fields'', and Hank Snow's ''I'm Moving On''.

According to Johnny Weatherford said, ''Elvis was very nervous. While first walking onto the stage to begin the concert, he tripped on the wires and almost fell. He even stuttered some when he spoke''.

Several members of the audience remember Elvis calling everybody up to the stage after his performances and giving them their money back. School principal Curry Lee Hendrix, equally gracious, gave Elvis $25 for gas.

Not many were impressed that evening, but there was at least one exception. A young Carl Perkins, still waiting for his first record to be released by Sam Phillips, was there with his band. In his biography ''Go, Cat, Go!'' Perkins described how he observed the similarities between Presley's band and his own trio; it was definitely the same sound, but it was also the way Elvis moved around the stage, just like he did. He noticed how Elvis danced, shook his legs, played with the microphone, and flirted with the girls in the audience. The wild antics, the stutter as Elvis talked, Carl knew that it represented a case of bad nerves, but it also created a feeling of excitement and urgency.

Elvis didn't look like any singer Carl had seen before, and certainly nothing like the country artists of the day in their sequined suits, standing motionless as they presented their music. Elvis' set lasted only half an hour and, in addition to ''That's All Right'' and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', his repertoire included ''Cotton Fields'' and Hank Snow's ''I'm Movin' On''. After talking briefly with Elvis afterwards, before he drove back to Memphis, Carl innately knew that he had just seen a bright future not only for Elvis but also his own band, they were on the right track.

Brother Jay Perkins seemed preoccupied with Elvis' appearance, especially his pink shirt, complaining that Elvis was a sissy and wouldn't last long, a view likely shared by more than one jealous boyfriend in the audience. This ''pretty boy'', who so openly refused to fit in, provoked Jay, challenging the way he and many others saw themselves.

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