FEBRUARY 4, 1955 FRIDAY
Elvis Presley and the "Blue Moon Boys", as Scotty Moore and Bill Black
were now being booked, made at least one and possibly several personal appearances in New Orleans. Also with Elvis Presley were Bud Deckelman, Ann Raye, daughter of Biloxi promoter Yankie Barhanovich, and perform also with Bill Cason and the Arkansas Troopers.
The package was promoted by Red Smith of WBOK.
Elvis Presley and the band reportedly split $300 for the day's work. No advertisement exists, but two items in Billboard
confirm he was there. The first, February 12, 1955, was written before the fact and probably came from Red Smith. The second, February 26, 1955, is after the fact, and is likely from Bob Neal.
Elvis first venue is Jesuit High Smith School, New Orleans, Louisiana. According to Yankie Barhanovich, Biloxi based booking agents said, ''My daughter was recording under the name Ann Raye for Decca. Her first effort, ''Sentimental Fool'',
was a hit on a New Orleans radio station. Disc jockey Red Smith each week asked the recording artists to come to the Crescent City to perform their top songs. We first met Elvis at the Jesuit Auditorium. We played two shows, one in the afternoon and one at
Keith Rush a New Orleans disc jockey remembers, ''I had played Elvis' first record on my radio show, but it was fellow, and competitor, New Orleans disc jockey
Red Smith that suggested to me to bring Elvis to New Orleans''.
''On the day, I left the radio station at 2:00, and Elvis, Scotty, and Bill turned up in a 1950 Chevy
at 2:15, too late to promote the show on the radio. I greeted them with an irritated ''What happened''? and they said that they had driven down from Memphis that morning and only stopped for gas and a burger, which they split three ways, as they had no money.
I felt they all looked disheveled and Elvis needed a haircut. Red Smith got $25, the auditorium cost $50 to rent, and only 76 people turned up, and at $1 admission I lost money''.
Flenniken said, ''In late January of 1955, my sister and I heard on the radio that one of our favorite hillbilly singers, Bud Deckelman, would be on a show in New Orleans at Jesuit High School. He had a hit song out called ''Daydreamin'''. This was only about
80 miles from Baton Rouge where we lived, so we made plans to go. i was sixteen years old and my sister was nineteen. We rode down in her red '52 Pontiac Coupe. The ladies at the door said the ticket price was 1$50. We told them, 'But we drove all the way
from Baton Rouge! Can't you give us a break''? They let us in for fifty cents each''.
''Jesuit High School had a very large auditorium. There were three sections, a center,
and a section off to each side of that. My sister and I sat in the middle section about 10 rows from the front on the left end of the row. The place was only about one-third full, if that''.
''I had heard of Elvis Presley, of course, and liked his music, sort of. ''That's All Right'', really stunned me, when I heard it for the first time a few months back. I thought, 'Who can this guy be, singing this kind of music? It's not
hillbilly!' But then I heard ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', which I knew was Bill Monroe's song. I really liked the way Elvis sang the song, but was still a little skeptical of him. We were told he was 19 years old. I had no idea what he looked like, but thought
his name sounded kind of strange and that maybe he would look strange too''.
''Bud Deckelman and the others had finished performing, and Elvis Presley was introduced.
He came out on the stage, and when I laid eyes on him and heard him sing, I was completely overwhelmed, surprised, shocked, thrilled, excited and entranced, as were most of the girls in the audience. He had brownish blonde hair, which was long and combed back
into ducktails, and he had on a sport coat which may have been white, and maybe pink shirt and black pants, I can't remember exactly. He immediately began singing a fast song. And as he sang, he shook his left leg to the rhythm of the song. We girls all squealed
at every movement he made, even if he just stopped singing and looked at us. I couldn't get enough of Elvis' singing, and hated to see the show end. Besides ''That's All Right'' and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', he sang several current rhythm and blues songs''.
''I did not own a camera, so I did not get pictures. But I did have my autograph book with me, so Gayle and I headed backstage. Right away, we saw Elvis, talking to a man in a suit, and
we went up to them. They were discussing the low turnout. Elvis commented that this was the smallest audience they'd played to in quite a while, and he seemed concerned about is. Elvis just shook his head and looked down. I got up the nerve to talk to Elvis
although I didn't have any idea what to say, I just asked, 'Elvis, what kind of music do you like, hillbilly or rhythm and blues''? He said in a serious tone, 'Rhythm and blues' but immediately laughed, and quickly added, 'No, I like all kind of music, it's
all good in different ways, right''? And he looked over the man, who nodded in agreement. Again, Elvis' tone picked up a serious note when he described his feelings about several different types of music, hillbilly, gospel, popular, and rhythm and blues''.
''His mood then changed to a very playful one. He was running all around the backstage area, being ''crazy''. My sister and I joined in on the mischief. I saw two cardboard swords lying
on the floor. I picked one up and struck a sword-fighting pose. Elvis saw me, and wasted no time in running over and grabbing the other sword, and we proceeded to have a make believe duel! By this time, I was just beside myself, Elvis was so exciting and fun
to be around! He was having such fun that night. He won the ''swordfight''. He took my sword away and held it up triumphantly, then laughed, ran over and hugged me, then ran away again'', Shirley Flenniken said.
Shirley continued, ''By then, several girls were waiting for autographs. I asked him to autograph a picture I'd bought, and he signed it 'Sincerely, Elvis Presley'. The next girl had him include her name, and I told my sister,
'I wish I'd asked him to put my name on mine'. He wheeled around and grabbed my photograph and asked, 'What's your name'? and added 'To Shirley'. I could've just melted right there on the spot! I didn't think he'd heard what I said! I couldn't believe what
a kind and considerate person he was, besides being the best-looking guy I'd ever seen, besides being my favourite singer as of that very day. He also signed my autograph book, 'Yours Sincerely, Elvis Presley''.
''We left the school and headed back to Baton Rouge. Although it had been such a great show, I felt a kind of sadness, not knowing when I'd see Elvis again. We were just about 15 minutes into our hour-and-a-half ride home, my
sister was driving, as I didn't have a license yet. Suddenly I noticed a car, what looked to me like an older model Mercury, in the right lane, with musical instruments piled on top of it, coming up alongside us. I looked closer and was stunned to see Elvis,
driving the car! I waved and got his attention. When he saw me, there was immediate recognition, and he flashed me a big smile, and said, 'Where y'all headin'?
Rouge''! I excitedly replied, still not believing that Elvis was really driving right next to us, that maybe I was dreaming this. 'We'll be going through there later on', Elvis said''.
''Soon after that, Elvis turned off Airline Highway into a Motel''.
According to Elvis Presley, ''We only played to 75 people the first time I came
to New Orleans, and there seemed to be more people on the stage than in the audience. I even had to borrow petrol money to get my next date in Shreveport".