February 1, 1955 to February 28, 1955
Studio Session for Elvis Presley, February 5, 1955
Live Broadcast Recordings for Elvis Presley, February 13, 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 <  



By Scotty Moore's meticulous accounting, Elvis, Scotty, and Bill have grossed $2,083.63 from their last month of touring. Half goes to Elvis, 25 percent each to Scotty and Bill, after expenses have been paid.


Bob Neal sent out his elaborate new brochures advertising "Elvis Presley and the Blue Moon Boys". Filled with reviews of recent concerts and laden with pictures of Elvis Presley on the "Big ''D'' Jamboree", a number of new clubs booked Elvis Presley on the strength of the pamphlet. The bookings were often a gamble for the clubs, because they were small concert venues. A higher-tan-usual door charge and the increased sale of beer would bring the club to the break-even point, however, so it was worth the try. The owners were usually happy with this arrangement, because the artistic reception was positive. The crowd was pleased with Elvis' show, and returned to spend their money. As Elvis Presley became popular, club owners shrewdly advertised that they had once booked the "King of Western Bop".

Many of the clubs were elaborate cocktail lounges that had not previously booked country music. The old dance bands and jazz combos were no longer popular, and the clubs looked for new acts.


Elvis Presley is the opening act on the bill at the Messick High School located at 703 South Greer in Memphis, Tennessee . The Messick show supported Bob Neal's campaign to be elected high school president. The result of the election was mentioned in the Commercial Appeal on February 6, but despite the effort, his son young Sonny Neal was not elected. The show most likely took place on Tuesday or in the daytime during the first week of February.

Messick High School was a public high school in Memphis, Tennessee, established in 1908 and operated from 1909 to 1981. The main building was demolished in 1982, but Memphis City Schools uses some other former Messick facilities to house the Messick Adult Education Center.

Messick High School was built by Shelby County to consolidate three elementary schools. It was a full 12 grade school until 1912 when the high school grades 9-12 were moved to the new and nearby West Tennessee Normal School (Now U of M) to train teachers.

After that Messick School included only elementary grades, but a high school building was added in the 1920s and all 12 school grades were enrolled as of 1924.

At the time of its construction, the school was in a rural area of Shelby County called Buntyn, Tennessee, where truck farming was a major economic activity.

The school was named for Elizabeth Messick (1876-1951), a University of Chicago graduate who was superintendent of Shelby County Schools from 1904 to 1908 and who had been criticized for spending $30,000 to build the new high school. Messick later married Memphis Commercial Appeal journalist Elmer E. Houck and used the name Elizabeth Messick Houck.

In its rural location, some early students lived too far from the school to walk there, so they were transported to school in horse-or mule-drawn wagons. Initially, lunches were provided by students' mothers who brought hot meals to the school at mid-day. With time, Messick became the first school in West Tennessee to have a school cafeteria.

Residential subdivisions grew up in the surrounding area in the 1920s. In 1930 Messick became part of the Memphis City Schools system. Much additional residential development occurred in the area in the late 1940s, after World War II ended. By the 1970s, however, the neighborhood was losing population and Messick's enrollment declined. The city school board voted to close the school. The graduating class of 1981 was Messick's last, and the school's main building was demolished in 1982.

Elvis Presley then tours Cleveland and New Orleans with Jimmie Work and Bud Deckelman.


Sam Phillips attempted to sell Elvis Presley's contract to Randy Wood, founder (1951) of Dot Records in Gallatin, Tennessee, for $7,500. Wood declined because he already had an up and-coming artist, Pat Boone, whom he had just acquired from Gene Autry's Republic Records. (Randy Wood was also the name of the president of Chicago's Vee Jay Records).

After Dot Records moved to Los Angeles, the label turned down a local band who later became the Beach Boys.


Elvis Presley start a week of Bob Neal bookings, appearing with the local Meteor recording artist, Bud Deckelman. His ''Daydreamin'' (Meteor 5014) is one of the classic of mid-South country music.

Elvis Presley performed in Lufkin, Texas. This is one of the towns that D.J. Fontana recalls playing very early in his association with Elvis Presley, possibly late 1954 or early 1955.


Elvis Presley would performed in Randolph, Mississippi at the Randolph High School Auditorium. Elvis begins a week of Bob Neal bookings, appearing with local singer Bud Deckelman of ''Daydreamin'' fame, but the show was cancelled and a letter from Bob Neal (below) was send to Ruth Logest, principal of the Randolph High School that read:

Dear Miss Longest,

I'm awfully sorry that I felt it necessary to call off our scheduled appearance for tonight at the school in Randolph. But I'm sure that you understand my reasons. The weather bureau had forecast possible tornadoes in a belt from El Dorado, Arkansas to Tupelo, and with all the bad weather we were having in Memphis, it seemed like the best thing to do. I tried to call you before making the final decision, but, as you know, there are no phones at Randolph.

I will be happy to reschedule the appearance at the earliest open date we have. It may be possible that I can set a date in the last week of February or the first week of March. I will write to you as soon as I am able to check on some dates that we have already offered in that particular time.

Again, thanks for your understanding, and I assure you that we all want to come to Randolph as soon as it is possible.

Very truly


Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black appeared at the Augusta High School Auditorium, Augusta, Arkansas around 8:15 p.m. and the show was sponsored by the Senior Class. Admission 50c and 75c.

The newspaper ad for the show pictures Elvis, Scotty, and Bill (The Blue Moon Boys) still dressed in their western shirts. This photograph will continue to be used for some months in newspapers throughout the South, though Scotty and Bill have by now stopped wearing the cowboy-styled outfits that are carryover from their Starlite Wrangler days.

According to Leon Zetterfield, ''I lived in North Little Rock and worked for a paper company. They got many of the small time local papers, and that's where I saw the ad for the show in Augusta. We had just heard Elvis and thought he was really something. He was tall and thin, had dishwater blond hair, he had a bad complexion, but he was great. He touched us and stood out. There weren't all that people there. The auditorium was full, but that wasn't a very big auditorium''.


Elvis Presley may have appeared at the Town and Country Club in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, on this date, except that those who should know think mot. The facility had recently been remodelled by its owner, Ralph Falsetta, and Elvis Presley was supposedly there as part of the "Grand Re-Opening". No hard evidence exists for this show. An interview with Tony Falsetta, the son of the original owner, revealed that his father often had "teen nights" at the club during which many of the local rock 'n' rollers would play. The family has no specific memory of any performance by Elvis Presley.

When Elvis Presley appeared at this plastic-looking paradise, he was surprised by its "New York Interior". The Town and Country was a large club with a recessed dance floor that had been remodelled by a shrewd businessman, Ralph Falsetta, who turned it into a bar to accommodate the hard-drinking locals. A special liquor permit allowed the club a great deal of latitude in selling hard liquor and beer to the general public. Eventually, Falsetta was elected Donaldsonville's mayor, and his club reflected the strong local economy.

When Elvis Presley was brought into the Town and Country, it was to celebrate the club's new status. The best of the new country music acts played there, and the audience was young and critical. Elvis Presley was a big hit, and he pleased the crowd with hard-driving, energetic sets. After a four-hour concert with two short breaks, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black drove to New Orleans.


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 night''.

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''.

Shirley 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'?

''Baton 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".


Following his appearances in New Orleans, Elvis Presley returned to Memphis for another recording session. He arrived tired and cranky. The Sun studio was full of well-wishers and other people who inquired curiously about Elvis' road trip as he prepared for the session.

The carnival atmosphere bothered him. After being on he road all day, he had trouble concentrating. With very little time to prepare for the session, Elvis Presley decided to cut songs that he had recently performed in concert.

Elvis Presley and Sam Phillips spent some time talking about song selection. They needed another hit record. Elvis Presley thought that certain of his performance selections were more commercially appealing than others.

As Elvis Presley travelled from one concert appearance to another, he listened to the radio constantly. He often remarked to Bill Black that he hoped to record some of the rhythm and blues tunes he had heard on the radio. Charlie Feathers, Malcolm Yelvington, Stanley Kesler, Doug Poindexter, Ronald Smith, Marcus Van Story, and other performers at Sun Records were intrigued by Elvis' constant talk about black music.

Sam Phillips agreed that rhythm and blues material was admirably suited to Elvis Presley's voice. As a result, the session, which was cut short because of Elvis' road weariness, produced two 1954 rhythm and blues songs: Arthur Gunter's, "Baby Let's Play House", and Ray Charles' "I Got A Woman". Elvis Presley also completed a version of "Tryin' To Get To You".



For Elvis Presley's Sun recording(s) click on the available > button <

Composer: - Arthur Neal Gunter
Publisher: - A.S.C.A.P. - Excellorec Music
Matrix number: - None - Rehearsal - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Possibly February 5, 1955

In recording "Baby Let's Play House", Elvis Presley had finally satisfied a desire to cut a record from his own collection. Gunter had first recorded his song in Nashville at Excello Records in late 1954. When Ruben Cherry's House of Records received a few copies from Ernie Young, the owner of the Nashboro Record Company, Elvis Presley had eagerly purchased one. Like Cherry, Young operated a small record shop on the north end of Third Avenue in Nashville, and he frequently traded new records with Cherry. Just prior to Christmas 1954, Elvis Presley picket up a copy of Gunter's record and loved its unique sound. Delta blues guitar combined with a country jump direction. Heavenly influenced by white rockabilly artists, Gunter's husky voice was a good model for Elvis Presley.

"Whoa, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby", Elvis opened in an ascending, hiccoughing stutter that knocked everybody out with its utterly unpredictable, uninhibited, and gloriously playful ridiculousness. Elvis Presley made a small but telling change in the lyrics; where Gunter had sung, "You may get religion, baby, but don't you be nobody's fool", Presley sang, "You may have a pink Cadillac, but don't you be nobody's fool". Scotty Moore enhanced Elvis Presley's performance with two bristling solos that were light-years from his fingerpicking roots. He defined something of his own, not to mention his generation's aspirations. This looked like it could become their biggest record yet, everyone agreed.

Composer: - Arthur Neal Gunter
Publisher: - A.S.C.A.P. - Excellorec Music
Matrix number: - U-143 SUN - F2WB-8046 RCA - Master Take 1 (2:15)
Recorded: - Possibly February 5, 1955
Released: - April 25, 1955
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single Sun 217-B mono
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-3/28 mono

Arthur Gunter got a $6500 royalty check for "Baby Let's Play House" and commented that he never got to shake Elvis' hand.

Steve Sholes Session Notes
Box 4
1. I Got A Woman That's Good To Me (Good)
2. I Got A Woman (V.G.)
3. Baby Trying To Get To You
4. Baby Let's Play House (M)
5. Baby Let's Play House

Composer: - Ray Charles
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Progressive Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - BOX 4 - Take 1
Recorded: - Possibly February 5, 1955 - Tape has yet to be located
Released: Sun Unissued

"We probably did recorded", recalled Scotty Moore, "cause later on we did cut it at Victor. I just don't remember how many we would have tried when we were just working with the three of us... When we couldn't make it happen... when we couldn't get the sound... we just left it alone".

Composer: - Ray Charles
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Progressive Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2
Recorded: - Possibly February 5, 1955 - Tape has yet to be located
Released: - Sun Unissued

''I Got A Women'' (originally titled ''I've Got A Women'' is a song co-written and recorded by American rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles and released as a single in December 1954 on the Atlantic label as Atlantic 45-1050 backed with ''Come Back Baby''. Both sides later appeared on his 1957 album Ray Charles (subsequently reissued as ''Hallelujah I Lover Her So''.

The song builds on ''It Must Be Jesus'' by the Southern Tones, which Ray Charles was listening to on the radio while on the road with his band in the summer of 1954. He and a member of his band, trumpeter Renald Richard, penned a song that was built along a gospel-frenetic pace with secular lyrics and a jazz-inspired rhythm and blues background. The song would be one of the prototypes for what later became termed as ''soul music'' after Ray Charles released ''What'd I Say'' nearly five years later.

The song was recorded late 1954 in the Atlanta studios of Georgia Tech radio station WGTS. It was a hit, Charles' first climbing quickly to number 1 on the rhythm and blues charts in January 1955. Charles told Pop Chronicles that he performed this song for about a year before he recorded it on November 18, 1954. The song would lead to more hits for Charles during this period when he was on Atlantic. It was later ranked to number 239 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, one of Charles' five songs on the list. A re-recorded version by Ray Charles, entitled ''I Gotta Woman'' (ABC-Paramount 10649) reached number 79 on the Billboard pop chart in 1965.

Other versions that have made the pop or rhythm and blues charts in the United States are those by Elvis Presley (for his debut album ''Elvis Presley'' (March 23, 1956 LPM-1954). The album spent ten weeks at number 1 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart in 1956, the first rock and roll album ever to make it to the top of the charts; by Jimmy McGriff (number 20 pop chart); Freddie Scott (number 48 pop chart); and Ricky Nelson (number 49 pop chart in 1963). The song has also been covered by numerous other artists.

Composer: - Margie C. Singleton-Rose Marie McCoy
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Motion Music Company
Matrix number: - None - Take 1
Recorded: - Possibly February 5, 1955 - Tape has yet to be located
Released: - Sun Unissued

An example of Elvis Presley's dedication to rhythm and blues was his recording of "Tryin' To Get To You". This tune, written by Rose Marie McCoy and Charlie Singleton, was a 1954 rhythm and blues hit for the Eagles. It was a tune that Elvis Presley found in the bargain bin of Ruben Cherry's House of Records. Not only was it an obscure rhythm and blues hit, but it was a song that had a balled inflection suited to Elvis' voice. Elvis Presley was comfortable recording it, but after listening to a number of playbacks, Sam Phillips didn't feel that it was suitable for release.

RCA received, and subsequently lost, a tape from this session including two takes of "I Got A Woman:, two takes (including the master) of "Baby Let's Play House", and one take of "Tryin' To Get To You". The recording date is generally mentioned as February 5, but given that Elvis Presley performed at the Louisiana Hayride that night, it's more likely to have been earlier that week.

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)
Johnny Bernero - Drums (Gretsch Round Badge Kit) on "Tryin' To Get To You"
Doug Poindexter - Acoustic Rhythm Guitar


ARTHUR NEAL GUNTER - Born in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, on May 23, 1926, Gunter was one of a very few black blues artists attempting to make it in music in the country music capital.

His father, William Gunter was a preacher and his mother was Fannie Morrison, he was one of at least 3 children and he raised in Nashville, Tennessee, and he formed his family group The Gunter Brothers and work to the local churches as youth and learned the guitar from his older brother Larry Gunter.

Arthur Neal Gunter was influenced by his brother Larry Gunter, Blind Boy Fuller, B.B. King, and Jimmy Reed and worked frequently gigs with his brother "Little" Al Gunter.

The Nashboro Record label in Nashville brought in Arthur Gunter to record with The Leapfrogs, as sideman, "Baby Let's Play House". It was a minor rhythm and blues hit for Gunter, but a king size record for Elvis Presley. Ernie Young, the owner of Nashboro bought the song for $500 from Gunter and it made Young a fortune. It was Gunter's ability to combine blues and country music that helped Elvis Presley break through with his own unique blend of music.

Excello Records was typical of the small labels that Sam Phillips and Elvis Presley followed as they looked for new songs. Interestingly, there are amazing similarities between the Excello Record label founder, Ernie Young, and Sun Records magnate Sam Phillips. Both appreciated black music, and both had a version of its future in a white market. Excello Records was typical of many newly-formed small records labels of the time. In 1951, Ernie Young, the owner of a record shop on the northern end of Third Avenue in Nashville, founded a small mail-order record label, Nashboro Records. Young was closely connected with local disc jockey’s, which enabled him to garner radio airplay for his blues and hillbilly artists. In a scenario that was a carbon copy of Sun Records, Young recorded local talent like Kid King (Skippy Brooks), Louis Brooks, and Arthur Gunter. Young had the same problems as Sam Phillips; the number of black music labels in Nashville was minuscule, the dominance of the "Grand Ole Opry" broadcasts made country music king, and few people paid attention to the blues. Young, like Sam Phillips, founded Excello Records to record black artists and serve the needs of local blues buffs but, again like Phillips, Ernie Young hoped to cross his artists over into a mainstream record buying market. Young was also interested in country music and urged black artists to listen to it. The results of Young's encouragement were amazing.

In January 1954, Arthur Gunter wrote "Baby Let's Play House" after listening to Eddy Arnold's 1951 country hit, "I Wanna To Play House With You". He used the barrelhouse piano player Skippy Brooks to add some blues piano chords to the song.

Gunter had listened studiously to white rockabilly music, and the resulting songs were a far cry from the traditional blues that permeated local black clubs. Many of his songs were influenced by the music of Blind Boy Fuller and Big Bill Broonzy.

In 1955 through 1961, Arthur Neal Gunter recorded with Kid King Combo for Excello label in Nashville, Tennessee, and frequently toured with Kid King Combo and working on club dates through the South, he worked also at the Hilltop in Little Rock, Arkansas in the late 1950s, but worked mostly outside the music in Port Huron, in the Michigan area.

Unfortunately, Arthur Gunter recorded for a small label and was destined for musical obscurity When his brother and fellow band member, Little Al Gunter was killed in a barroom brawl, Arthur Gunter moved and settled for good in Michigan and went to work for the post office. (After moving to Port Huron, Michigan, in 1961, Arthur Gunter won the Michigan State Lottery in 1973).

Ernie Young bought the rights to "Baby Let's Play House" and collected the royalties. "I got more money from Elvis in royalties than I did from Arthur's record sales", Young noted. Excello Records, like most small labels, had purchased Gunter's song outright. Young paid Gunter $500 for "Baby Let's Play House", and it was the smartest investment Ernie Young ever made.

In 1973, Arthur Neal Gunter appeared at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan. On March 16, 1976, Arthur Neal Gunter died at home in Port Huron, Michigan, of pneumonia. Gunter is buried at the Caswell Cemetery in Kimball, Michigan. Arthur Gunter had a pleasant, forthright nature, a smokey, appealing voice, and a pure, simple country blues guitar style, as well as a talent for writing great songs.


Elvis Presley performed at the three o'clock and eight o'clock shows at the Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport, Louisiana. It has been reported that wearing pink pants and tie with a charcoal jacket, he performed "Uncle Pen", ''That's All Right'', Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', Tweedle Dee'', and Money Honey'' on this date. Faron Young, the headliner, was supported by Martha Carson, Ferlin Husky, the Wilburn Brothers, and Elvis Presley was listed as the closing act.

When Elvis Presley and the band arrived in Shreveport, there was a telegram waiting from Colonel Tom Parker. After summarizing the almost two weeks of bookings he had ready, Parker wrote, ''We will appreciate you giving these dates a good plug on your show tonight. Give me best to Pappy, Horage Logan, Scotty and Bill, and hope you have a complete sell out tomorrow in Memphis''.

Colonel Tom Parker sends Elvis a second check for $550 as a deposit for additional dates on the upcoming Hank Snow tour.

(Above) Memphis Press-Scimitar February 5, 1955

- Thru the Patience of Sam Phillips -

That 'Something' Has Captivated Fans Over the U.S.

By Robert Johnson, Press-Scimitar Staff Writer

One sultry night late last July, Dewey Phillips flicked a turntable switch with one of his cotton-pickin' hands and sent a strange rhythmic chant spinning out from WHBQ.

"Well that's all right baby...that's all right, baby..." The record ended. Radio like nature, abhors a void and Mr. Phillips hastens to fill the breach. "That'll flat git it", he said authoritatively. That same night, Sleepy Eye John over WHHM tossed the other side of the record on his admirers - and the same voice which had been reassuring. Baby now sang plaintive praise of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky".

Someth'ng Happened

Time didn't exactly stand still, but something happened. Bob Neal of WMPS played the record, too. The pop jockey's, entranced by something new, began slipping "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon" in among the more sophisticated glucose and bedlam of Teresa Brewer, Nat Cole and Tony Bennett.

In less than a week, a momentous change began for a young teenager, working on an assembly line, who liked to sing and play the guitar.

His name: Elvis Presley.

Elvis' first record was on the Sun label of Sam Phillips' small but ambitious Memphis Recording Services, 706 Union. It wasn't the first time that Sam's Sun has created a good-sized ripple in the frenzied circles of record business. Sam is largely responsible for a new trend in the field which the trade publications call rhythm and blues (for rhythm and blues) and country (or hillbilly) music, and for making Memphis the rhythm and blues capital, as Nashville is for rustic rhythm.

Within a Week

Within less than a week, Sam was frantically and painfully trying to press enough copies of Elvis' debut platter to catch up with a 6000 backorder
which hit him before the record had even gone on sale, before it had been released in any market outside Memphis.

And overnight, a restricted but indubitable mantle of fame settled about Elvis, as the record went spinning out across the country - 100,000....200,000....300,000....still going. Within a month, Elvis was invited to appear on hillbilly heaven: Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. Veteran entertainers kept him singing backstage, after the show.

On Juke Box Jury

The record was played on Juke Box Jury. "Blue Moon" had been written and first recorded some years earlier by a famous, Grand Ole Opry entertainer, Bill Monroe of Kentucky. Tennessee Ernie Ford, on Juke Box Jury that night, drawled: "If ole Bill Monroe hears this, he'll just take (his I’ll) ole country band and head back for the hills". Monroe himself, far from being offended, sent Elvis a note of thanks. After Elvis brought it out, six other companies made it with their stars.

Billboard gave Elvis' first record an 85 score, very high, on both sides. Over a 15-week period, only one other record in the same category had an equal rating, and that was by the established star, Webb Pierce.

Sam Phillips still hasn't figured out which was the big side. "That's All Right" was in the rhythm and blues idiom of negro field jazz, "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" more in the country field, but there was a curious blending of the two different music in both.

Two More

Sun brought out two more Elvis records - "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine" and "Good Rockin' Tonight", "Milk Cow Blues Boogie" and "You're A Heartbreaker". Billboard's annual poll disk jockey’s of 1954 landed Elvis in the list of Ten Most Promising artists on the strength of them....

In A Class Alone

Sam doesn't know how to catalog Elvis exactly. He has a white voice, sings with a negro rhythm which borrows in mood and emphasis from country style.

Marion Keisker, who is WREC's Kitty Kelly and Sam's office staff, calls Elvis "a hillbilly cat".

While he appears with so-called hillbilly shows, Elvis' clothes are strictly sharp. His eyes are darkly slumberous, his hair sleekly long, his sideburns low, and there is a lazy, sexy, tough, good-looking manner which bobby soxers like. Not all records stars go over as well on stage as they do on records. Elvis sells.

In the merry-go-round doesn't start spinning too fast for a 20-year-old, he'll end-up with enough cheeseburgers to last a Blue Moon.

Spin 'em again boys.


Back in Memphis, Elvis Presley performed two shows, at 3:00 and 8:00 p.m. at Ellis Auditorium's North Hall in a show "Five Star" bill, with headlined by Faron Young.

The concert also featured "Beautiful Gospel Singer" Martha Carson making her Memphis debut, Ferlin Husky (who dropped the "e" in his last name a year later), the Browns, the Hushpuppies Doyle and Teddy, Floyd Tillman, and the Wilburn Brothers. Admission was $1.00 for general admission seats to $1.25 for the best seats.

The first show went fine. Elvis Presley sang his new song, "Milkcow Blues Boogie" and "You're A Heartbreaker", as well as "That's All Right" and "Good Rockin' Tonight". Elvis Presley was fascinated, too, with the performance of Martha Carson, a spectacular redhead who looked like a movie star and sang and moved like Sister Rosetta Tharpe when she performed her trademark hit, "Satisfied" and a host of traditional "coloured" spirituals. She broke several strings, danced ecstatically at the end of a long guitar chord, and in general created the kind of smouldering intensity and infectious enthusiasm that Elvis sought to achieve in his own performance. He asked Miss Carson afterward if she knew a particular Statesmen number, and he made it clear that "He knew the words to every song that I had ever had out", recalled Martha Carson. "He was very complimentary and very interest in what I did. I could feel this was sincere, it was from the heart, it wasn't just someone saying this, he just really idolized me, and I could feel it".

On this date, between shows in Memphis, Elvis Presley and Scotty Moore across the street to a meeting with Bob Neal met for the first time with Colonel Tom Parker.

The meeting, which also included Sam Phillips, Bill Black, and the Colonel's two right-hand men, Tom Diskin and Oscar Davis, took place at Palumbo's cafe, across the street from the Auditorium.

The subject under discussion was Elvis' upcoming tour, a portion of which was being booked by Parker. The Colonel had been keeping an eye on Elvis' rising popularity for some time.

The meeting at Palumbo's did not get off to an auspicious start. The tension in the air was already make when Elvis Presley and Scotty Moore walked in. Colonel Tom Parker was sitting there with a big cigar, his jaw thrust out, and a pugnacious expression on his face, as Diskin tried to explain to Sam Phillips that the Colonel didn't really mean anything against the Sun label in particular, that he was just trying to point out the shortcoming that would attach to any small record label, which necessarily lacked the kind of distribution that a major company like RCA, with which the Colonel had been associated for many years through both Eddy Arnold and Hank Snow, could offer.

Later in the week, Tom Diskin, among others subjects, wrote RCA's head of Artists of Repertoire, Steve Sholes, to report that ''Elvis Presley is pretty securely tied up''. The off-handed remark took Sholes by surprise, as the Colonel had given him the impression that it was likely they could sign him to RCA.

COLONEL THOMAS ANDREW PARKER - A 300-pound promoter and agent, born as Andreas Cornelius van Kuijk in Breda, Netherlands, on June 26, 1909. Parker immigrated into the United States illegally in 1929, after which he claimed Huntington, West Virginia, as his place of birth. He served in the U.S. Army with the 64th Coast Artillery from 1929 to 1932, having enlisted at Fort McPherson in Atlanta.

When he joined he swore allegiance to the United States, thus renouncing his Dutch citizenship. Since Parker isn't a citizen of the United States, it has been suggested that he is technically a "man without a country". in 1932 he married Marie Mott Ross, whom he had met in Tampa, Florida.

Tom Parker began his hawking career in carnivals and fairs, pushing anything he thought he could sell. He founded the Great Parker Pony Circus and, later Colonel Tom Parker and His Dancing Chickens, in which Parker placed live chickens on a hot plate covered with sawdust, accompanied by a record player as the chickens "danced" to the music. At the age of thirty-two Parker was elected dogcatcher of Tampa. In the 1950s Parker became the promoter of singer Gene Austin and manager of country singer Eddy Arnold (from 1942 to 1951) and Hank Snow (from 1954 to 1956). He also managed singer Tommy Sands. On March 15, 1956, Parker officially became the manager of Elvis Presley, for a 25 percent fee. Parker, an honorary colonel since 1953, was Elvis' manager until Elvis' death, never taking on another client.

Tom Parker is a shrewd, hard-working, and demanding individual who worked for the financial betterment of both. Elvis and himself, especially himself. For this reason Parker has become controversial. By establishing two publishing companies for Elvis Presley in the early 1960s, the quality of the songs offered to Elvis greatly deteriorated, because the industry's talented composers refused to forfeit a share of their legitimate royalties to anyone. Parker espoused the philosophy of never giving away anything you can sell, i.e., interviews, photographs sessions, advice, even a Life magazine cover. Parker's asking price for an interview was $25,000 for the short version and $100,000 for the long version. Though Parker wasn't his agent at the time, Elvis signed his first contract, with Parker, for some appearances in the South, on August 15, 1955. On January 2, 1967, Parker renegotiated his managerial/agent contract with Elvis Presley, somehow persuading Elvis to increase Parker's share from 25 percent to 50 percent of every cent Elvis made. Parker used the argument that Elvis was his only client, and probably mentioned heaven knows what other facts to convince Elvis to sign. That contract ran until January 22, 1976.

On one occasion during the 1970s, Vernon Presley attempted to tell Parker that Elvis was going to fire him as his manager and continue to work without him. The quick-witted Parker stopped the slower-thinking Vernon in his tracks when he produced an itemized bill for $5 million, claimed that it was what Elvis owed him if he was indeed fired. Intimidated by Parker, Vernon blinked and dropped the idea. He had to inform his son that Parker was once again his financial guru.

Everyone, including Elvis and Parker, were aware that Elvis' movies deteriorated to Grade C formula films. Parker even admitted to not bothering to read the scripts, once saying, "Anybody who'll pay my boy a million dollars can make any kind of picture he wants". The quality control in Elvis' career sank rapidly. Felton Jarvis ressued Elvis' recording career in the late 1960s, but no one came along in time to rescue his film career. A number of times Elvis was offered decent roles, e.g., "Thunder Road" (1958) and "A Star Is Born" (1976) - only to have Parker ruin the deal by asking for too much money. Elvis had an opportunity to perform with Arthur Fielder and the Boston pops, perform before royalty in London, Tour Europe, Australia, Japan, even perform for President Richard Nixon at the White House, all of which Parker nixed one way or another. It's a shame that so many millions of Elvis' fans in Great Britain and other countries never got the opportunity to see Elvis Presley live in concert, only because Parker couldn't leave the United States. If he had applied for a passport, his alien status might have been discovered. Many believe that Parker was more interested in quantity (money) than quality.

In 1973 Parker convinced Elvis Presley to sell his entire catalog of singles and albums to RCA Records for a mere $6 million, with, of course, Parker getting half. Since Elvis had no investments, as Parker did, he was in such a high income-tax bracket that his share of the deal, the $3 million, was greatly reduced. It was a shrewd deal for RCA, but a terrible deal for Elvis Presley. Elvis had no financial adviser outside of his father, so no one could tell him it was a bad transaction. Parker also created a conflict of interest in Elvis' concert appearances in Las Vegas, by gambling heavely in the same casinos that hired Elvis to perform. It has been estimated that Parker lost about a million dollars a year in Las Vegas casinos. It was reported that in November 1980 Parker sold to Warner Bross., for $750,000, the rights to film a movie about Elvis' life. Parker's share was $200,000, the Presley Estate received $200,000, and Parker's associates and employees received $350,000.

Few people, however, can argue with Parker's success in guiding Elvis' career. For the most of their relationship, there were few accounts of Elvis (who affectionately called him "Admiral") ever disagreeing with Parker's decisions, and few accounts of the two ever having anything but a good working relationship and friendship - although that relationship seriously deteriorated in Elvis' later years. Parker has also been criticized for his nonchalant attitude, especially as reflected by his attire at the funerals of both Elvis and Vernon Presley - he wore shorts, a colorful shirt, and a baseball cap, while all of the other guests were suitably attired. The day after Elvis' death, Parker had Vernon sign papers allowing Factors Inc., to handle all of the merchandising Elvis-related products.

After Elvis' death the courts ruled that Tom Parker had no legal rights or interest to the Presley Estate, and he was forced to relinquish any connection to the Elvis Presley name. During some of the litigation against Parker, he used the defense that he was not an American citizen and therefore could not be used in an American court. In the book "Elvis: Portrait Of A Friend" by Ed Parker, is quoted as saying about Tom Parker: "Parker is a rude, crude, son of a bitch, and you can quote me".

In the 1981 movie "This Is Elvis", Colonel Tom Parker remarked, "I own 25 percent of Elvis alive (e.d. note: he owned 50 percent at the time) and I own 25 percent of him dead", (e.d. note: he still owned 50 percent).

Tom Parker died at a heart-attack on January 21, 1998 in Las Vegas Hospital, Las Vegas, Nevada.


Elvis Presley, the band, and Bud Deckelman performed in Ripley, Mississippi, in a show sponsored by the Ripley High School senior class. The 8:00 p.m. appearance was held at the Ripley High Gymnasium. Admission was 75-cents for adults while "kids under twelve" could save a quarter.

Johnny Bernero on the road only once with Elvis. "Elvis said, 'Why don't we go on early and get this out of the way'. He had no ego problem with others playing the headline times", said Bernero.

"He asked me to go on the road with him, but I was married, had five kids at home and I told him there was just no way I could do it. He gave me a week to think it over, but there was just no solution to the situation. I thanked him for the opportunity".

According Joan Turner said, ''About 500 people attended, and Elvis received a moderately warm reception. The girls loved him, but some of their boyfriends seemed less impressed, possibly jealous. Many of the grown-ups acted as if they didn't know how to respond. I was particularly struck by the bright orange color of his suit and the shiny material (probably silk) that was made of. He was a bundle of raw energy, good looks, and talent that mosy teens could not resist''.

''I was one of the teenagers'', Turner said, ''14 when I saw his show at Ripley. I first became aware of Elvis when my brother, who lived in West Memphis, Arkansas, and worked in Memphis, brought me his first 45-rpm recording of ''That's All Right'' and ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky''. I was immediately impressed with his beautiful, sexy voice and unique style, something between the blues, which I grew up hearing here in Mississippi, southern gospel and an altogether new sound that was hard to define, but most enjoyable to hear''.

''Soon I was listening to his manager at the time, Bob Neal, an announcer on a Memphis radio station talking about Elvis, his music, and where he would be appearing. I looked forward to his visit to Ripley with much anticipation. Persuading my parents to take me to the show was quite a chore, because they were quite conservative and did not particularly approve of his music. No one had ever had the effect on my life that Elvis did that night. Yes, I'm sure part of it was that phase of rebelliousness that all teens go through, but Elvis was hope and wonder, and his music spoke to all the pent-up feelings most teenagers have but cannot express''.

''Scotty was great on guitar, and Bill, always a clown, rode the bass and never missed a beat. It was a wonderful show, and Mr. Neal and his wife were both present, Mr. Neal joking about coming through the big city of Hickory Nut to get there, the little town of Walnut just up highway 15 from Ripley''.


In the late afternoon of February 9, Elvis, Scotty, and Bill left for the long drive to Alpine, Texas. They didn't get far. Bill Black, driving Elvis' newly acquired 1951 Cosmopolitan Lincoln, collided with the rear end of a truck, sending his bass fiddle flying. Miraculously, all instruments and musicians were unharmed, but it was the end of the car.

According to Bonnie Brown she said, ''I remember one night the phone rang. Our father answered, and it was Scotty. Maxine and Jim Ed were on the road. Elvis, Scotty, and Bill were in Brinkley, at the police station. Their car was wrecked, but they asked if they could borrow a car to finish the dates down in Texas. Dad and I got up and drove in the middle of the night, he in one car and me in the other. I remember it was a cold night. I know that he and I had our first argument by that time, and he didn't come out of the Police station when we got there. Bill said he was probably in the station with some girl. Maybe he was mad at Bill for having the wreck, or maybe he was embarrassed having to borrow a car from us and didn't want to face us''.


Elvis Presley and his band played for the crowd in Alpine, Texas. They appeared at the Alpine High School Auditorium at 8:00 p.m. The show benefited the school's Future farmers of America (FFA) chapter.

Harry Kalcheim, an agent with the powerful William Morris Talent Agency office in New York, writes to Colonel Tom Parker that he has mislaid the picture of Elvis Presley has sent him but agrees that he sounds promising with ''a very special type of voice''.

THE STORY ABOUT ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL - Mr. Hendrick, we have a small problem with tonight's benefit. Did you book the singers? Yes, sir. Order the posters? Yep. Hire the local talent? Check. Sell the tickets? What we could. Then what's the problem? The show is about to start end the lead act isn't here yet.

The little hand chugged past eight and the big hand bungee jumped off the twelve and dove down the starboard side of the clock. The "local talent" started to warm the crowd up at the top of the hour, but behind the stage at the Future Farmers of America benefit, an Elvissized hole stood in place of a real singer. John Nelson, DJ of KVLF, the "voice of the Last Frontier" in Alpine Texas, began to fret.

Audiences aren't green beans; you can't put them on simmer for an hour and expect them to continue to swim contentedly among themselves. Also, green beans don't own pitchforks, Future Farmers do.

For the last month John had finagled with Bob Neal by phone, letter, and telegram to get a group that the locals would cough up some much-needed revenue to see. The manager assured Nelson that Elvis would raise the roof and the capital. All was arranged, despite the lack of PA system, the small auditorium, and some last minute alterations.

Always the considerate employee, John shared his headache with his boss, station manager George Hendrick. After a few moments' deliberation on the virtue of timeliness, Hendrick told John, you take the high road and I'll take the low road and I'll be in Alpine before ye'. Maybe the singers thought they were supposed to play at some other Alpine High School in West Texas. The two grabbed their coats and slipped out the door unnoticed.

In ever-widening circles, Hendrick and Nelson scoured the gravel roads around their fair town. Their heavy cars tore past the rough terrain, strewn with tumbled boulders from the nearby Chalk Mountains. All appeared haunted in the cold winter twilight.

Nelson began to worry that something had happened to the young men. West Texas could be a very remote place if broken down or lost, and the winter night creeping in on them feel as cold as ever-loving Christmas.

On their third pass, Nelson spotted the weary travelers kicking the tires of their car both in frustration and possibly to keep warm. The old Chevy lay in a fetal position on the side of the road, its hood and front fender bruised and aching from the collision they'd inadvertently participated in outside Alpine.

After Bill's CPR, Scotty's abuse, and Elvis's sweet talk, their faithful steed wheezed back to life. The threesome managed to kick it at a slow clop into Alpine, where it probably had a great deal to complain about to the other cars in the lot.

Despite the circumstances and the sparse ticket sales, Elvis, Scotty, and Bill played an encore performance to a small but feisty audience. As if galvanized by the post-collision adrenaline high, the threesome let it all hang out. John Nelson introduced the group and Scotty and Bill galloped into their positions on stage. After a pause carefully designed to drive the masses wild, Elvis oozed onto stage and gave them a sultry stare from bedroom eyes. Galvanized by the look, the women bubbled screams like estrogen percolators. Elvis executed his trademark "snap and jerk," launching into an upbeat hillbilly repertoire unlike anything these West Texas folks had ever heard. He twisted back and forth to the music, glancing occasionally over his shoulder at John Nelson, who still stood rooted to the stage, transfixed.

Elvis wasn't the only one who noticed the lurker; Hendrick hissed at the DJ from the sidelines. After several attempts, Hendrick diverted Nelson's attention just long enough to send him the psychic message, "get off the stage, John." In case the vibes got jumbled on the way through the atmosphere, Hendrick jerked an impatient thumb toward the side of the stage. John shook himself back to reality and scuttled off the stage. The band rocked on.

After the performance, Elvis signed records and photos for the excited teens. With very little coaxing, he succumbed to autographing the petticoat of the banker's daughter. After an hour or so, Scotty, Bill, and the Nelsons asked if he wanted to join them at a party at a fellow disc jockeys house. Elvis declined with a smile, glancing over the corner where the barn daughter loitered. He had a date. The girl admired her petticoat and smiled back him appreciatively.

The next morning came very early to the boys. They staggered out of their rooms at the Bien Venido Motel on the main drag through town and stumbled over to the station for an interview and last minute automobile arrangements. They had to figure out how to get their limping car to New Mexico. A man by the name of Colonel Tom Parker booked the musicians for a gig in Carlsbad as a "favor" to Bob Neal. This would be the first but definitely not the last "favor'' Parker performed for the boys.


Elvis Presley performed at the Sports Arena in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Appearing with Elvis Presley were blues singer Nancy Jones and Bill Robertson, tap dancer. Admission was $1.00 for adults, 50-cents for students, with children under twelve only a quarter.

Later that night, Elvis performed in Hobbs, New Mexico.

(Photos ''The American Legion Hall'' courtesy by Francesc Lopez)


Elvis Presley and his group remained in Carlsbad, New Mexico, to entertain at a dance at the American Legion Hall. The show ran from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Admission was $1.50. After appearing in Carlsbad the day before, the crowd at the Legion Hut this evening was so large that over a hundred people had to be turned away at the door. Elvis' two-day stand in Carlsbad had been arranged locally by Lee Hamric.

Significantly, the Carlsbad show had been booked with the cooperation with Colonel Tom Parker. Bob Neal had asked for the Colonel's help and, as Elvis Presley watched Bob Neal negotiate with Parker, he realized the full extent to which Bob Neal was basically the wrong person to guide his career. Colonel Parker demonstrated that he had connections among concert promoters that Bob Neal just couldn't match.

According to local musician Don Scarbrough, ''The Legion Hut (or Hall) sits out in Happy Valley. It's on a side road in a little community. It's a small building with brick extrior and could hold about 200 people. You come in the front; a hundred feet long, fifty feet wide. There is nothing there. Way in the back there is a stage about ten feet high, covering the whole back wall. Everybody played at the Legion Hut, well almost everybody did''.


Elvis Presley, "The Bebop Western Star of the Louisiana Hayride", returned to Lubbock where he headlined a 4:00 p.m. matinée at the Fair Park Coliseum, Lubbock, Texas. He was teamed with the Duke of Paducah, Charlene Arthur, Jimmie Rodgers Snow, and local singers Ace Ball of Okeh Records and Bill Myrick and his Rainbow Riders served as the backup band at the show. At the bottom of the bill was Lubbock's own Buddy and Bob. This show was booked by Bob Neal, in conjunction with Colonel Tom Parker and was the first official involvement of Parker with Elvis Presley.

Jimmie Rodgers Snow, who was scheduled to join the tour recalled, "A chartreuse jacket and black pants with a white stripe down the side, and the kids were just going wild. I'd never seen anyone quite like him, even as a kid he had that something about hum, he just had it. I had never heard of Elvis Presley when I went out there, I had no idea who he was, the Colonel just called me in, him and Tom Diskin, and said, 'I got you booked with this guy, Elvis Presley, out in Lubbock, Texas'. But we talked that night, we ran around that night, as a matter of fact Buddy Holly was hanging around the show. And we just became friends immediately", said Jimmie Rodners Snow.

According to disc jockey Bill Myrick, ''When Dave Stone and these people up in Lubbock realized that Elvis would be headliner material, they set up the show in the Fairpark Coliseum, and they called me and asked me if I would come and bring the band, and open and emcee the show as well. I played the Cotton Club Saturday. When I came to the club that night, Buddy Holly came up, he was about fifteen or sixteen (Buddy Holly was 18 years old in 1955), and two more boys. He said, 'Do you mind if I sit in with you'? I said, 'We don't play the stuff that you play, but I'd be glad to put you on during the intermission'. They played for 45 minutes, and I could tell from the crowd that they really liked them. So, the next day, about an hour before the show, we had a packed house. I introduced Buddy Holly that day at the Coliseum. He was just a kid getting started''.

"The place was packed an hour before showtime", said Bill Myrick. "They were jammed in there. We didn't know what to do. I saw Buddy standing backstage and I asked him, 'Are you ready to play?'. He said he was ready. So I went out and welcomed the crowd and I told them if they'd like, maybe we could get Buddy and his band to come out and entertain them until the show started. Or, they could just sit there and twiddle their thumbs''.

''They didn't seem to want to twiddle, So I brought Buddy on. He played forty-five minutes and when it came showtime, the crowd didn't want him to leave. That was his first big audience". "When Elvis Presley came on, people became aware immediately that he had become a star. He played furiously. He tore the strings right off his guitar and he kept on performing. I didn't think they were ever going to let him off that stage, they were yelling so hard. Elvis asked 'em, 'What y'all want me to do? Stay out here all night?'. They really cheered at that prospect".

"I had played with Bill Monroe before", said Myrick, "and I knew how "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" sounded, but when I heard that record by Elvis, I had never heard it sung that way. It definitely wasn't bluegrass. Me and Keith Ward from KJBC-radio started getting requests for Elvis, so that's when we decided to book him".

Although the newspaper advertisement for the Coliseum concert didn't mention say so, it is probably that the same performers played this evening's show and dance at Lubbock's Cotton Club located just beyond the city limits of town.

THE DUKE OF PADUCAH ("DOOKA P'DOOKA") – Benjamin Francis “Whitey” Ford (1901-1986) was a leading country comedian from the late 1930s to the mid-1950s. He had only a third-grade education and was fond of calling himself a graduate of the “University of Hard Knocks.” Following four years in the Navy (1918-1922), he joined a Dixieland jazz group as a banjoist, working in Arkansas and Missouri. Based in Chicago, beginning in about 1929, Ford performed on WLS and eventually toured with Gene Autry.

In the mid-1930s, while based at St. Louis radio station KWK, Ford acquired his Duke of Paducah stage moniker, earlier invented by humorist Irvin S. Cobb. (Ford’s nickname “Whitey” came from his blonde hair.) In 1937, Ford teamed with Red Foley and John Lair to organize the Renfro Valley Barn Dance.

During the late thirties and early 1940s, Ford starred with Louise Massey & the Westerners on the NBC network radio show Plantation Party out of Cincinnati and Chicago before moving in 1942 to star on the Grand Ole Opry’s NBC network segment, a role he would maintain until replaced in 1947 by Rod Brasfield, whom he helped to recruit. Subsequently, Ford made several series of popular radio shows, some of them recorded and syndicated widely throughout the United States and others fed live to CBS from various locations while on tour with Eddy Arnold.

His homespun humour played upon his garish green-check suit, his stocky build, his seemingly futile attempt to play the banjo, and his closing line, "I'm going back to the wagon 'cause these shoes are killin' me". The Duke was a personal favourite of Gladys Presley who was a faithful fan of the Opry's Saturday night radio broadcast. Ford served as a scout for Colonel Tom Parker, persuading him to sign Elvis Presley. In 1955 he convinced Vernon and Gladys Presley, who were leery of Parker, how much good Parker could do for their son.

Ford kept working at the Opry and touring, even heading a troupe billed as the Rock and Roll Revue during the mid-1950s. Beginning in 1958, he hosted Country Junction, a Nashville television show that aired on WLAC-TV for a number of years.

Eventually many of his jokes found their way to Hee Haw, whose producers bought his joke library. Ford donated numerous radio scripts and extensive scrapbooks to the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum. The remainder of his substantial collection of American humor was acquired by Emory University shortly before his death in 1986. Four months after his passing, he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.



It was common at the time for artists to visit local radio stations when touring, encouraging the local disc jockeys to play their records, often performing live (or taped) on the air to promote their upcoming shows. Because Elvis Presley and his band had so little recorded repertoire, they would supplement their own repertoire with covers like the above, both recent Atlantic singles. "Fool, Fool, Fool" was a number one rhythm and blues record by the Clovers in 1951.

Acetate 78rpm of Elvis demo, wrongly titled "What A Fool I Was". It's been reported by some that Elvis Presley recorded "Fool, Fool, Fool" while at Sun Records. No proof of that has yet come firth.

Composer: - Ahmet Nugetre
Written in 1951 by co-founder of Atlantic Records in New York City, NY
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Unichappell Music
Matrix number: - WPA5-2533 - Acetate Presto Recording Corporation, Paramus, New Yersey
Recorded: - February 13, 1955 - Acetate Demo (1:51)
Released: - June 1992
First appearance: - RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm PD 90689(5)-5-2 mono
Reissued: - February 5, 1999 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 07863 67675 2-2-12 mono

"Shake, Rattle And Roll" was a 1954 rhythm and blues hit in its original version by Big Joe Turner, and a number seven pop hit in its instant cover version by Bill Haley and His Comets. Poor, almost inaudible recordings exist of other Presley shows from early 1955, documenting that the repertoire also included LaVern Baker's "Tweedlee Dee" and the Charms' "Heart Of Stone", as well as another Clovers song "Little Mama", all 1954 releases, and Ray Charle's "I Got A Woman" and the Drifters', "Money Honey" released just weeks before.

Composer: - Charles Calhoun (Also known as Charles E. Calhoun)
Publisher:- B.M.I. - Progressive Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - WPA5-2534 - Acetate Presto Recording Corporation, Paramus, New Yersey
Recorded: - February 13, 1955
Released: - June 1992 - Acetate Demo (2:17)
First appearance: - RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm PD 90689(5)-5-5 mono
Reissued: - February 5, 1999 RCA BMG (CD) 500/200rpm 07863 67675 2-2-13 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)
Unidentified - Piano

"Fool, Fool, Fool" and "Shake, Rattle And Roll" provided by Leroy Elmore, Dave Pinkston and Ray Winkler.



Back in New Mexico, Elvis Presley and most of the entertainers from his Lubbock show joined a Hank Snow jamboree for the evening as they played Roswell, New Mexico. There were two performances, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., to benefit the Roswell Fire Department. Seats were $1.00 in advance and $1.25 at the door. The show was held at the North Junior High School Auditorium.

On tonight's billing, Elvis' name was below that of Snow, the Duke of Paducah, and Snow's Rainbow Ranch Boys. Elvis' name did however appear above that of Charlene Arthur and Jimmie Rodgers Snow.

The concert appearance was reportedly Colonel Tom Parker's first involvement with Elvis Presley. He assisted Bob Neal in getting Elvis Presley booked in Carlsbad.

Tom Parker has instructed Elvis to meet Tom Diskin at Rosswel, New Mexico, ''leading hotel'', no later than 3:00 p.m. in order to do radio promotion and get the schedule for his first appearance this evening on the already-in-progress Hank Snow Jamboree tour.

According to Jimmie Rodgers Snow, ''Elvis liked to sing Dad's songs. There was one he would be doing just right straight out, ''From A Beautiful Bouquet'', a song my dad wrote when he was in Canada, before we even moved to the States. I remember it impressed my dad that he would even know this song, because it was never released in the U.S.''.

Kenneth Irwin said, ''My friend Don Close and I went to the Hank Snow show at the North Junior High. It was packed. We were so impressed as the crowd brought the house down when Elvis played. We bought his first record at the show and stayed for the second show, as did most of the crowd''.

Don Scarbrough a local musician said, ''Elvis didn't really make that music on an impression. It seemed to me like he was there for Hank to change suits. Hank had got all these new Nudie suits. I loved Hank Snow's ''I'm Movin' On''.


Elvis Presley and his "Bop band" as the ad read, performed in Abilene, Texas, with the Hank Snow Jamboree. The show was held at the Fair Park Auditorium. Also on the bill was Slim Willet, a country singer/songwriter famous as the composer of "Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes". Shows were at 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. with seats running $1.00 in advance at $1.50 at the door.

The Albuquerque show was a disaster. Faron Young treated Elvis Presley with contempt, and Bob Neal appeared more interested in getting autographs than in promoting Elvis' career.

Following his appearance with Faron Young, Elvis Presley increasingly upset with Neal's management. Bill Black urged him to consider new options. The upcoming shows with Hank Snow, Black noted, would allow Elvis Presley to see Colonel Tom Parker organized and operated a package tour.

Since Hank Snow was a major country act, the tour would also test Elvis' ability to work a large, sophisticated country audience. Clearly, there was more to the situation than just the fabled machinations of the Svengali-like Colonel, sizing up Elvis Presley as a vehicle to making his fortune; young Elvis Presley was also considering the advantages of the Colonel's management. The stage was set for a business deal, and the Colonel and Elvis were about to join forces in one of the most legendary relationship in the history of the music business.

On February 10, Colonel Tom Parker has had Tom Diskin inform Steve Sholes, RCA's head of A & R in the company's country and western division that Elvis Presley ''is pretty securely tied up'' at Sun while simultaneously trying to convince Sholes to sign Tommy Sands instead. Sholes replies on this date that ''the last I heard from the Colonel seemed quite favorable toward our signing Elvis Presley so naturally your comments with respect to Presley were a little surprising''. His letter does not indicate that he feels Tommy Sands is a suitable replacement.

According to local musician Dean Spratlin, ''The person presenting the Hank Snow show, Slim Willet, was a large man and I would guess that his name was a business name he had taken. Slim was a local disc jockey and he wrote songs and sang music. Dean Martin recorded a hit record that Slim wrote titled, ''Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes''. After Elvis performed on stage, I felt that if I went outside I might see him in the back of the auditorium. When Elvis did not come out shortly, I retreated to the side of the building and stayed outside for a while. I went inside and was standing in the side lobby looking through two open doors to see Jimmie Rodgers Snow singing on stage, when I noticed Elvis standing real close to me, and alone. He was also looking through the doors. The crowd was moderate. We must have said 'Hello' at the same time. Elvis was easy to talk to, and I was thrilled that he did not ignore me. He talked freely''.

Slim Willet, the disc jockey of KRBC in Abilene, had taken many bands to Abilene and, after seeing Elvis in Lubbock back in January, was thrilled to find Elvis as part of the Hank Snow show. He arranged an autograph session at a local department store and the customary promotional visit on the radio during the afternoon. Elvis, Scotty, and Bill drove up to the KRBC radio station that afternoon and were greeted by Slim and Slim's band member, Roland F. Smith. Elvis, Scotty, and Bill followed Roland to Thornton's Department Store in a beat up old Chevy that Roland later discovered belonged to the Browns' father. They sat down for a coke. After Roland left, Elvis and the boys wandered over to the record shop and were promptly greeted by a group of girls. As the signing came to a close, Elvis decided to shop around the store, and he bought a white sport coat which he proudly wore that night at the performance. Elvis stole the show that night.

Slim had invited Breckenridge disc jockey Sid Foster to come and see the show, and like most other disc jockeys, Sid walked away determined to book Elvis for his own town.

WINSTON LEE MOORE (SLIM WILLET) (1919–1966) - Slim Willet, songwriter, disc jockey, record producer, and television personality, was born Winston Lee Moore in Victor, Texas, on December 1, 1919. He was the son of Luther and Fannie Moore. In 1935 the family moved to Clyde, and Willet attended Clyde High School. He married Jimmie Crenshaw in Clyde in 1938. They had two sons, Ted and Tim.

After serving a brief stint in the United States Army during World War II, Willet returned to the Abilene area and later entered Hardin Simmons University. While working as student manager of the school radio station, he adopted the ironic pseudonym Slim; he was far from slender. He took the name Willet from the Willets, characters in his favorite comic strip "Out Our Way." Upon graduation from Hardin Simmons in 1949, he went to work for radio station KRBC as an advertising salesman and disc jockey. He had already begun writing songs, including "Pinball Millionaire," which was recorded by both Hank Locklin and Gene O'Quin.

Willet began his recording career in 1950 with the Dallas-based Star Talent label. His first release, the self-penned "I'm A Tool Pusher from Snyder" (later changed to "Tool Pusher On A Rotary Rig"), was one of the songs with which he became most associated. In 1952 he recorded "Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes." Released nationally on 4 Star Records, the song reached number 1 on Billboard's country and western chart, and at one time there were four versions of "Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes" in the C&W Top 10. Perry Como also took the song to the top of Billboard's pop chart.

At the height of his popularity, Willet was making regular guest appearances on the Big ''D'' Jamboree in Dallas, the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, and the Town Hall Party in Compton, California. Although he never had another hit to match "Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes," he continued to write and record. He formed the Edmoral and Winston labels to release not only his own recordings but also those of area performers such as Dean Beard, Hoyle Nix, Curtis Potter, Darrell Rhodes, and Jimmy Seals. Willet even dabbled with the emerging rockabilly sounds of the day and recorded some sides under the name Telli W. Mils, the Fat Cat ("Telli W. Mils" is "Slim Willet" spelled backwards). In 1959 he released Texas Oil Patch Songs by Slim Willet, an album devoted to life in the oilfields and one of the earliest country music concept albums.

While continuing with his radio activities, Willet set up an advertising agency to handle local promotional ventures. In this capacity, he booked Elvis Presley's first appearance in Abilene on February 15, 1955. Willet was also a pioneer in live television on KRBC-TV, in addition to hosting the Big State Jamboree. The weekly variety-show format provided exposure for many area performers, including the young Larry Gatlin. Willet left his disc jockey job at KRBC in 1957 and joined radio station KNIT. In 1964 he became general manager of KCAD, one of the few all-country music radio stations in the state.

The combination of radio, recordings, and television made Willet well-known in the Abilene area. He apparently died of a heart attack on July 1, 1966, and was buried in Victor, Texas. He was elected to the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame in 1994. He is also honored in the West Texas Music Hall of Fame.


Elvis Presley continued with Hank Snow as they played the Senior High School Field House in Odessa, Texas. Attendance was estimated at 4,000. Emcees for the show on this date were radio personalities Lee Alexander and Bill Myrick of KECK, Odessa, along with Keith Ward of KJBC, Midland. Tickets for the show ran $1.00 in advance and 25-cents more at they door.

Tickets for sale at The Record Store on 1508 North Grant. The show was sponsored by the Young Home Owners of Odessa. Some two hundred screaming girls attacked Elvis Presley as he was trying to leave the building, tearing his coat completely off his back.

Other artists for the show, Hank Snow and his Rainbow Ranch Boys, The Duke of Paducan, Charlene Arthur, Jimmie Rodgers Snow.

Cecil Hollifield owned record shops in Odessa and Midland. Off-times on his jaunts into West Texas, or just passing through, Elvis would stay at the Hollifield's home. Bill Myrick went off to a disc jockey’s convention in Nashville after the February show and he was singing Elvis' praises. Many of the country music disc jockey’s there said they had never heard of him, but Myrick told them, "You will".

"His records were selling well", said Cecil Hollifield, "but we all thought he was a black singer". "He was cute", said Shirley McDade. "That afternoon he was driving over to Odessa and he asked me to ride over with him. En route, he sang songs to me in the car. And after that, he began calling me every day and he would dedicate songs to me on the air when he was singing at the Louisiana Hayride. Finally, he came to visit my family in Midland".

"My family was really strict. They wouldn't let me go out with him alone. If I went riding with him in his car, they would follow in their car. Once we drove to see him at the Louisiana State fair in Shreveport. He gave me some cuff links that some Texas fan club had given to him. And after he later appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York, he brought me the first pair of high heels I ever owned! We drove around a lot, practically through every small town in West Texas".

McDade was sitting at home one night when a saddened Elvis Presley called her from Hope, Texas. "His car had just burned up near Hope", she said. "He was very sad. He had been really proud of that car. In fact, he called me three or four times that night, he was so sad.

The last call, my parents wouldn't let me talk. They said it was too late". "Elvis", she said, "didn't drink or smoke at that time. He was very nice, a perfect gentleman. When we would go out to eat, he would eat country fried steak constantly.

He loved it! One time I was allowed to drive with him over to Andrews where he was doing a show. Mom and dad were there. Mom really liked Elvis, but he was older and out of school. After the Andrews concert, we drove home and were sitting in the driveway. We hadn't been there five minutes when dad came out and got me".

While in Odessa, Elvis Presley may have appeared again on Roy Orbison's television show. Upon leaving his TV show in Odessa, Roy Orbison moved to the larger market of Fort Worth. In an interview with Roy Orbison published in Goldmine (February 1, 1981), Elvis' appearance on Orbison's Fort Worth television show is discussed. The program was telecast live from Panther Hall. Roy Orbison recalled that Johnny Cash also appeared on the same program with Elvis Presley. In the interview, Roy Orbison mentions that these appearances were done to promote their upcoming concerts, and consequently should not be considered as part of a regular tour. None of the known Fort Worth appearances fit the scenario. Roy Orbison recalled from his original vantage point in the audience. "Just a real raw cat singing like a bird. .... First thing, he came out and spat on the stage. In fact he spat out a piece of gum... Plus he told some real bad, crude jokes, you know, this dumb off-colour humour, which weren't funny. And his diction was real coarse, like a truck driver's... I can't overemphasize how shocking he looked and seemed to me that night".


The Hank Snow tour travelled to San Angelo, Texas, for two shows, at 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. at the City Auditorium.

Elvis Presley was brought in for two concerts. Hank Snow had already completed a lengthy leg of the tour with dates in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. His finely tuned show included Jimmie Rodgers Snow, Charlene Arthur, and a comedian, the Duke of Paducah. Colonel Tom Parker watched intently as Elvis Presley excited the four thousand people in the audience. Following the show, the Colonel talked with Presley about his future. Tom Diskin, Colonels Parker's assistant, encouraged the Colonel to sign the youngster. Tom Diskin informed the Colonel that Elvis Presley had a special musical flair, and had been talking to the Colonel for months about Elvis Presley. For some reason, Parker, Diskin argues, was always hesitant about Elvis' appeal. A more plausible explanation is that the Colonel was not a hasty person when it came to signing new acts. Tom Parker not only listened careful to Diskin, but also to Gabe Tucker and Tommy Sands. They all praised Elvis' music. For the Colonel, it was simply a matter of figuring out Presley's appeal - it was a long range one? Or was Elvis Presley simply a local phenomenon destined to fade into obscurity?


After a long drive, Hank Snow and Elvis Presley wound up their short tour in West Monroe, Louisiana. The 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. shows were held at the Auditorium of West Monroe High School Auditorium and were sponsored by the Monroe and West Monroe Jaycees. Also on the bill was local singer Jack Hammons & the bayou Country boys.

Jack Hammons said, ''I was twenty-seven in 1955; married with two children. I made records for Starday. I met the Colonel at the Old Francis Hotel in Monroe where I worked. He asked me if I would help promote the show. Elvis got ''the shakes'' before going on in Monroe, and asked me to open the show. My band was called Jack Hammons & The Bayou Country Boys. The place was packed. When the Colonel left, he hadn't paid me for my work, but the next time he was in the area, he stopped by and paid me''.

When Elvis Presley completed the tour on February 18, he had delivered one of his strongest shows. The audience was younger, louder, and more responsive to the music. They asked for pictures of Elvis Presley, but there were none to sell.

Apart from the constant demand for his records, realized Tom Parker, a carnival-trained peddler, there was clearly an opportunity to sell pictures, trinkets, and junk merchandise at great profit. At the time, then, Parker viewed Elvis Presley from the standpoint of a sideshow attraction, and probably had little understanding or appreciation for the exact nature of the appeal of Presley's music. The sound and substance of Elvis' act was a puzzlement, the result were quite clear, however - money could be made, and lots of it.

The stop in Monroe, Louisiana, is also pertinents in another way. Elvis Presley had tried to break into show business in 1953 and 1954 by auditioning for a local Louisiana country music show. Richard Wilcox, sales manager at KWKA in Shreveport in 1953-54, remembers Elvis Presley hangout around town looking for singing jobs. "The Hayride bands would rehearse at the big studio", Wilcox told Dary Matera, "and Elvis would ride the bus from Memphis all night so he could watch them jam on Saturday mornings".

Ben Marshall was with the West Monroe Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce), the civic organization that booked the Hank Snow revue.

The event was a fundraiser, promoting on to Atlanta, a planned trip to a national Jaycees convention in Atlanta. Ben was nervously waiting on the steps op the auditorium, as the bands were late because of the driving distance Ben was the man in the ticket room. The revue was booked for two shows, one at 7:30 p.m. and another at 9:30 p.m. He remembers that Parker first asked for $1,250 in advance for an advertising budget. The jaycees didn't have it, so instead Parker put up $650 were split 50/50. According to Ben, Parker had brought a dealer from Las Vegas to do the money count (probably Parker's assistant, Tom Diskin). It was amazing how quickly the man could count the tickets and the cash. There were a few missing tickets (as can happen when the ticket sellers do not turn the tickets in). Parker was initially going to charge them for the missing tickets, but ended up forgiving the discrepancy. After the show, Ben was in the ticket office with Parker when Elvis came in and nervous said, 'How was it? How was my act'? Parker said, 'Elvis, I never saw you look better'. He then asked Ben, 'Hey, Ben, wasn't he great''? Ben agreed. The funny thing is that neither of them saw the show because they were in the ticket office dealing with the money count. Ben reports, the first show was 90% full. The second was less crowded.


A brief mention of Elvis appeared in Billboard. According to the report, he was "hot" in El Dorado, Arkansas. "His style really pleases the teenagers". Back in Shreveport, Elvis Presley performed his regular Saturday night spot on the "Louisiana Hayride".

Across the river from Shreveport, in Bossier City, and next to the Al-Ida Motel where Elvis usually got a free room because the owners felt sorry for his financial plight and wanted to help, Elvis frequented a restaurant owned by George Dement, who would later become mayor of Bossier City.

"He ate, and ate big, in here", said Dement. "We had this sort of short, low cigarette machine. It had the only mirror on it that we had in the restaurant. Elvis was kind of tall and had sideburns and every time he'd look at himself in that mirror he had to stoop down. Every time he'd walk in, we'd punch each other and say, 'Watch him. He's gonna stoop down and comb his hair when he goes by', and sure enough, he would. He primped every time he'd walk past that mirror".


Billed as the "WSM Grand Ole Opry" show, Elvis Presley was third on the bill behind the Duke of Paducah and Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters as he began week long tour of Arkansas and Louisiana. Also appearing with Elvis Presley were Jimmie Rodgers Snow, Charley Steward, another RCA Victor recording artist who was managed by Colonel Parker, the Singing Hardens, Sammy Barnhard, Bob Neal, and Uncle Dudley, the stage name of Ernest Hackworth of KTWN radio in Texarkana.

Hackworth promoted this tour in conjunction with an old friend, Colonel Parker. Bonnie, Ernest's first wife, and Marie Parker, the Colonel's wife, sold tickets, "Hack" acted as the program's emcee, and the Colonel worked the crowd selling programs. The Colonel later offered Hackworth a part of Elvis' contract for $3.000. Hackworth, who didn't much care for rock 'n' roll, turned it down, preferring to remain in radio.

On this date there were a pair of shows, at 3:00 and 8:15 p.m., at Robinson Auditorium in Little Rock. Tickets were 75-cents in advance, $1.00 at the box office and 50-cents for kids. It is believed that Gladys and Vernon Presley attended this performance, invited by Elvis Presley who wanted to introduce them to the Colonel. Gladys, as was mentioned above, was a big fan of the Duke of Paducah. Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black receive $350 for these two shows instead of their usual $200 per day.

According to Mike McGibbony said, ''We were four of five guys, I guess in tenth grade. It was on a Sunday afternoon. It was at the Robinson Auditorium, where they also held the Barnyard Frolics. The Robinson Auditorium holds about 2000-2500 people, and I bet you there weren't even 300 people there. There wasn't any hoopla. Elvis just walked out on stage and just started playing. He had on black pants, black shoes, a lavender shirt, and a sport jacket. We really loved him, and people started hollering and clapping. So when it was over, we went out in the large lobby, concrete and marble, and started talking with Elvis, Scotty, and Bill. I was a young guitar wanna-be, and I went directly to Scotty Moore, and we just had a nice conversation.

Joyce Joyner Hightower remembers, ''It was the winter of 1955, and things were going on as usual. I was attending Central High School in Little Rock and going to the Barnyard Frolics at the Robinson Auditorium on Saturday nights, like I had done for the past two years. Several Arkansas folks got their starts at the Frolics, including Jim Ed, Maxine and Bonnie Brown. I was the Barnyard Frolics' mascot, running around all over backstage, singing or taking up tickets at the front of the auditorium. It was the time of my life and the most exciting thing was about to happen. In early February, a gentleman by the name of Bob Neal came by the Frolics. I happened to be taking up tickets, and he approached me and told me he was bringing a young man to perform in a few weeks. He asked me if I had heard of Elvis Presley, and I told him yes. I had already bought the Sun 78 ''That's All Right''. He asked me if I would come and bring a lot of my girlfriends to fill up the front row. He said, 'I want you girls to scream and holler when Elvis comes out', and I said, 'No problem''!

''A few weeks passed, and finally Sunday, February 20, came. My mother and I headed for the Robinson Auditorium in Little Rock. As usual, I was roaming around backstage, and Mother decided to stay backstage for the show. My girlfriends and I filled the front row seats as we had been asked to do. Elvis came out and started playing and shaking, and we just (for a moment) sat with our mouths dropped open in awe, then we started screaming, and the whole auditorium came alive. Elvis wore a shirt in shades of purple with black pants and a white sport coat. Elvis had borrowed a guitar from A.C. Lynch, and when A.C. got his guitar back, Elvis had rubbed the finish off of the back with his belt buckle, moving it back and forth. A.C, along with his band, the Drifters, was the Frolic's house band. Needless to say, A.C., was not at all happy about the fact that Elvis had scarred his precious guitar''.

''I was actually introduced twice to Elvis, as I had asked Charley Stewart to introduce me. I had been the president of the Charley Stewart Fan Club for several years. Les Willard, another regular on the Frolics, called me over and said, 'I want you to meet Elvis Presley', and Elvis said, 'Oh, I already met her, and she's a lot prettier than you', referring to Les, who was six feet seven and weighed around 130 pounds. We all had a good laugh over that. My mother, who was backstage, was visiting with a nice lady, Gladys Presley, and Gladys seemed to be needing someone to take Elvis and her home for dinner. I begged Mother to invite them home for dinner''.


Elvis Presley and his group played the Arkansas City Auditorium in Camden, Arkansas, and the show was billed as the WSM Grand Ole Opry Show. Admission for adults to the 8:00 p.m. performance was $1.00 in advance and $1.25 at the box office. Children got in for 50-cents.

According to Jimmie Rodgers Snow, ''I did a show with the Carters Sisters in Arkansas, and we got stuck on a road that had not been paved, and it rained a lot, and all our cars got stuck in the mud''.

''We couldn't move them, and a farmer picked us all up, and Elvis and I and the Carter Sisters all rode in the back of the truck in the open, all the way into the town where we were playing in a little theater. Very interesting, that crowd went wild. We were riding in that truck with our instruments and all that''.

Clyde Snider remembers and said, ''Well, I saw Elvis live, when I was still a kid! Elvis had come to my hometown as part of the show. He arrived late and came onto the stage explaining that he'd had a car breakdown, and in fact Elvis was covered in sweat from trying to deal with the car problem (my dad and I later learned that Elvis' car was still across the street in a repair shop)''.

Hames Ware said, ''There was some 'name' country stars, because my father went. I remember Elvis was supposed to be fairly early on the bill but didn't show up until quite late, because he had car trouble driving to Camden. He came out on stage through the middle of the back curtain with his acoustic guitar, and his shirt was very sweaty. In my mind, I can see him parting the middle of the back curtain and coming on stage alone. I don't remember the songs he sang''.

''When he finished, the crowd went wild, trying to get him to come back on stage, but he never did. I remember my father commenting toward the end of the show that this guy is going to be big someday. Years later, I remember having a conversation with a guy who worked at the service station across the street from Muni Hall who told me that Elvis' car was worked on at the station while Elvis was on stage''.


Elvis Presley performance this evening was in the large meeting room of the Hope City Hall in Hope, Arkansas. Also on the bill were Whitey "The Duke Of Paducah" Ford, Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters, Jimmie Rodgers Snow, Charley Steward, and Uncle Dudley.

The show was produced by Carroll A. Wynn of KXAR radio, who was one of the few women promoters at this time. The show may have been co-sponsored by Holsom Bread, as one teen recalled getting in free with a bread wrapper. In any event, the show did not draw anything close to a full house.

This night Elvis Presley faced an extremely tough country audience, composed largely of country purists. Nevertheless, Elvis Presley charmed the crowd with renditions of "Uncle Pen" and "Old Shep".

Everyone has heard of that night, near Hope, Arkansas, when Elvis Presley's Cadillac burned up. But few have heard, as a famous national broadcaster says, the rest of the story, and as told by Scotty Moore. "We were trailing Elvis in a second car. We saw this smoke coming out and sparks and Elvis didn't seem to know it. We were blinking at him and honking our horn, but he paid us no attention. Just kept drivin' until the car burned up".

The reason, he said, was Elvis was preoccupied. He said Elvis had a girl in the front seat with him. He said she had her head in Elvis' lap during the fire. And she wasn't just whistlin' Dixie.

In Hope, the Hempstead Country Melody Boys were supposed to play for a local dance but were asked to give up the date for the Grand Ole Opry show in Nashville.

Lura Mitchell wrote in the T. Tommy Time newsletter in 1955, ''On February 22, we had a big Elvis Presley show here. He featured his two men, Scotty Moore and Bill Black; also Charley Stewart, Jimmie Rodgers Snow, and Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters. I have never seen so many people. Believe me, there couldn't have been anyone left without a headache. I've never heard such screaming in all my life as the people did when Elvis came out. Sounded like the building was going any minute. Quite a guy''.


Remaining in Arkansas, Elvis Presley and the group of performers stopped at the Auditorium of Watson Chapel High School in Pine Bluff. Seats were 75-cents in advance and $1.00 at the box office. There were two shows, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. According to a later published reports (Pine Bluff Commercial, September 11, 1977), Vernon and Gladys Presley were on hand for this concert, and following the show everyone ate a late supper at Pine Bluff's Hob
Nob Restaurant.

Seeking bookings for Elvis Presley all over the country, the Colonel contacts A.V. ''Bam'' Bamford, an influential promoter who first gained prominence in Nashville by booking Hank Williams in the early fifties, now located in California. Parker informs Bamford that Elvis is ''a great artist but will need lots of buildup before he's a good investment''.

According to Allene Wilson, ''Anyone who would call a sixteen-year-old girl 'ma'am' was brought up right''. Wilson grew up in Arkansas and began singing publicly at age three. She sang country for the Arkansas Hayride and was a part of the Tommy Trent radio program. She still recalls the morning, just as the radio show finished, when Elvis Presley walked into the studio. ''He was to perform in concert at Pine Bluff High School that night with Hank Snow and some other country artists. They were there to do radio spots to play during the day. Elvis came in and said, 'Hello, Ma'am'. I don't remember him saying anything else. He just sat down at the piano and started playing Christmas songs''.

Allene Wilson knew Jim Ed and Bonnie Brown, two other country stars, so Elvis did not intimidate her. She knew who he was, liked his music, and bought his records.

''I just immediately sat down beside him. He played ''Crying In The Chapel'', Amazing Grace'', and ''Peace In The Valley'', and I sang them along with him. What stood out most was his shyness. He was very polite, and he came across as a really nice person who didn't he was a good person. He was just mot comfortable being in the limelight''.

Singer Bonnie Brown said, ''I remember he performed in Pine Bluff at the Pine Bluff High School with the Carters, and they all came to our house, where Mom had fixed a hyge dinner for them''.

Bonnie's sister Maxine Brown remembers, ''They came to our little house at 34 Cypress Drive. My, that was a time! Elvis was in charge of the evening's entertainment. He played piano and got all of us singing, the Brown Trio, Mother Maybelle Carter and her daughters. That night, Elvis was at his very best. He was sweet and gracious, showing that winning side of his nature'', she said.


Elvis Presley, the Duke of Paducah, Mother Maybelle and The Carter Sisters, Charley Stewart, and Jack Hammons; and the extra special Jimmie Rodgers Snow, made a pair of appearances in Bastrop, Louisiana. Shows at the South Side Elementary School's multipurpose room were at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. The event was sponsored by KTRY radio. Admission sales at Bastrop.

Bastrop, Louisiana, was a small town with country audience. Younger and more energetic, this time the crowd demanded "That's All Right". The Bastrop audience responded so strongly that it was obvious that they had listened to the "Louisiana Hayride" broadcast, where Elvis Presley had been the most applauded act. After the Bastrop show, Elvis Presley received a phone call from Horace Logan informing him that his next appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride" would be televised. Elvis Presley had the luxury of a few days off between the Bastrop appearance and the televised "Hayride" show, so he worked on his stage mannerisms and consulted extensively with Sam Phillips about the type of songs to perform on live TV.

As Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and D.J. Fontana drove to Shreveport, they were excited about appearing before a television audience. There is no doubt that TV was a major factor in success in the music world. There would be television scouts from the major networks shows watching Elvis Presley.

Roxie Thrash a 1955 Bastrop High School graduate said, ''I did not have the money to get in, however, I never missed a beat. There was an open window where I watched the entire show. I remember what a thrill it was. The place was packed. I remember, I ran around to the back when the show was over and peeped around to see Elvis and his band putting their equipment in their cars. Such a thrill.

Bobby and Barbara Priest said, ''We went to the show at the South-side Elementary cafeteria. South-side had no auditorium, but there was a small stage set up in the cafeteria. After the shows, Elvis took our cousin, Sue Holly, to the local skating ring'', and Jim Nichols said, ''I remember that the posters hung on telephone poles, had the Duke of Paducah listed as the headliner, then the Carter Family, and Elvis in small letters''.

According to country singer Jack Hammons, ''I overheard the Duke of Paducah say, 'Elvis, don't go out there and sing those gospel songs, people know you are not sincere'. It was visible how that comment hurt Elvis. The crowd in Bastrop was not so large. Sometime that night Elvis asked me, 'Do you want to be on the Hayride''?, and when I said yes, Elvis said he would talk to Horage Logan about it. I think I was with Elvis at the Hayride a few weeks later, he had now gotten the pink Cadillac''.

Mrs. Canfield said, ''My grandmother held her hands over my eyes and said, 'Don't you look at that', while still looking herself and tapping her foot. People were screaming so loud, and it just got louder the longer he sang. The next day, I overheard my grandmother on the party-line (a phone shared with another customer), laughing and telling about that singer''.


Although there are no ads, local lore holds that Elvis Presley played Texarkana in February - that his mother and father came down for the show - and that this is where Elvis Presley was first spotted by Colonel Tom Parker. Let's begin first with availability. This is the only Friday night open in February (At this time, Elvis only performed in Texarkana on Fridays).

The tour that Elvis is completing was booked by Ernest Hackworth who has vivid recollections of Gladys Presley sitting on Elvis' lap in the dressing room of the Texarkana Auditorium just before Elvis went on stage.

Cheesie Nelson remembers that he was hired as an opening act for this show, and he brought along Pat Cupp for support on steel guitar. Finally, what about Colonel Parker. As we have seen, it wasn't Elvis that he first met in February in Texarkana, it was Elvis' parents. Whether or not they had been along for the whole tour - and "Hack" thinks they only came for the day - Gladys was certainly in Texarkana.

Gwenn Telford of Texarkana also remembers this show well. She was fourteen at the time, and only attended because she was friends with Bea Cupp, whose brother Pat, was also on the bill with his group, the Flying Saucers. To add support for this date, Cupp can recall playing a Texarkana show with Elvis that also included Mother Maybelle with the Carter Sisters and the Duke of Paducah.

Gwen and her friends had no trouble getting backstage, where everyone swarmed around Elvis Presley. She overheard someone say that Elvis Presley was staying at the Almo Plaza Motel, which was only two blocks from her home.

After the show, Gwen and three or four friends went to her house for a slumber party. They soon slipped out and went to the motel. Elvis Presley and Scotty Moore, being perfect young gentlemen, offered to take the teens for a ride in the Cadillac. In turn, the young women showed them the sights of Texarkana. When the evening was over, Elvis Presley drove them to her house. As a parting remembrance, she was given her "first kiss" by Elvis.

It was a constant challenge to try expand the range of cities for Elvis to work. An invitation to go to Cleveland was most welcome. They drove up in Bob Neal's car and stopped at radio stations on the way, at least the one in Pocahontas, Arkansas.

(Above) This 1955 Elvis Presley press release is the earliest known example. The release is on Jamboree Attractions letterhead, which is remarkably similar in design to the Colonel's later letterhead, and describes the "20-year-old fireball from the Louisiana Hayride''. The release lists Bob Neal as Personal Management at 160 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee and states, "For a youngster catapulted from obscurity into a top starring spot on the big Louisiana Hayride Show, PRESLEY is remarkably pleasant and friendly, and always enjoys chatting with his many fans.

He's single, and has no serious interests of heart - devoting what time he has to spare from his busy schedule of personal appearances - to working on his car, and indulging in his hobby of collecting pink and black clothes''.


Colonel Parker writes to Harry Kalcheim at the Williams Morris Agency office in New York, once again soliciting Kalcheim opinion of ''this Elvis Presley Boy'' at the end of his letter.

The Colonel adds his own opinion that Elvis can succeed if he is ''exploited properly''. It should be noted that here that, as a master promoter, the Colonel saw proper ''exploitation'' as his calling card, with no element of opprobrium attached.

Kalcheim wrote back to the Colonel, asking if Elvis would be able to audition for the Arthur Godfrey Show in New York on March 9. It is not known whether Bob Neal had tried to contact the Arthur Godfrey people himself or simply called the Colonel and asked for help. However, the situation escalated the frustration that both Colonel Parker and his right hand, Tom Diskin, felt in relation to the whole Elvis issue. The uncertainly and mistrust that had been planted in Elvis during the meeting in Memphis on February 6, regarding Bob Neal and Sun Records, clearly mirrored their own concerns. The meeting had shattered the notion that they could easily move Elvis to RCA, and they had to accept a loss of credibility with RCA's Steve Sholes, when they had to tell him they couldn't deliver the artist. This new situation posed a risk that Elvis would actually succeed on the TV show, and possibly put Bob Neal and Sun Records in a position where they would not need Jamboree Attractions at all.

The Colonel expressed concern to Kalcheim that he did not want to have a situation whereby Elvis would get national TV exposure and he would not be getting the benefit of setting it up. Tom Diskin and the Colonel, who was in Florida, exchanged letters debating the situation and worrying that they were wasting their time. Diskin referred to the 'run around' they were being given by Presley and his manager and saw no reason why they should 'wet nurse' Elvis by going to New York with him, spending precious time and money. The 'run around' was Tom Diskin's take on what he felt had turned into a one-way arrangement, with Neal asking for more dates from Jamboree Attractions, yet unwilling to let them use Elvis for their shows in Texas, since Neal could do these without them.

Colonel Tom Parker wrote Tom Diskin on March 2, ''I don't see much use in wasting any money or time on Presley till we know that they need us and only when they contact us direct for help in some ways''.

Eventually Bob Neal gave Jamboree Attractions the assurance they were seeking, cutting them in on any deals that might arise from the national TV exposure, indeed a streep price for Neal to pay, should Elvis succeed big time. Finally, a March 23 date was set for the audition.


Billboard reported that Elvis was "currently on tour with the Browns in Mississippi, Alabama, Mobile, and Arkansas". This item apparently refers to the short tour beginning January 12th. Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black performed for the first time above the Mason- Dixon line, that imaginary United States boundary dividing the North from the South.

There were two shows in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Circle Theater's Hillbilly Jamboree. Also appearing with Elvis Presley was Jimmy Work. The movie theater was located at Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street. Stage shows began at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m., with a pair of movies sandwiched between. The films this evening were both westerns, "Johnny Guitar" starring Joan Crawford and the obscure B-movie "Texas Uprising". Elvis Presley was booked on the Hillbilly Jamboree by Tommy Edwards "The City Slicker Turned Country Boy" of WERE radio who also acted a emcee for the show. Elvis and his band were paid a total of $ 4150.

The show that night went fine. Elvis Presley remained largely unheralded in Cleveland, but if Bob Neal had been apprehensive about a northern audience's receptivity to this new music, his fears were quickly put to rest. Elvis Presley went over the same as he had throughout the South; the young people went wild, and the older folks covered their mouths. Bill Black's souvenir photo sales were brisk, as he mixed easily with the fans and made change from his money belt, and Tommy Edwards sold a fair number of their records in the lobby.

Elvis Presley the following songs that night: "I Forgot To Remember To Forget", "That's All Right", "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", and "Good Rockin' Tonight".

Following the show, Elvis Presley was taken by Edwards to the studios of WERE radio on 12th Street where he was introduced to Bill Randle, a popular disc jockey. Randle broadcast rock and roll weekdays on WERE from 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. On Saturday he flew to New York City where he could be heard coast-to-coast over the CBS Radio Network. He returned to Cleveland on Saturday nights to broadcast locally beginning at 11:00 p.m. On this particular Saturday, Randle interviewed Elvis sometime after 11 o'clock. This interview may have aired "live", or it may have been taped for broadcast at a later time. There are minor differences in the versions of the story, and Randle is said to have a tape of the interview.

As a result, there were inquiries made to Sam Phillips from northern one-stop record distributors about the availability of Elvis' records. Places like Al Smith's Record Bar in South Bend, Indiana, ordered Presley's records and advertised them extensively. This mailorder house listed Presley's "Milkcow Blues", the store's name for "Milkcow Blues Boogie" as one of their ten best-selling songs. In Hammond, Indiana, Elvis Presley records were sold in a small shop as a result of the owner's trip to Louisiana. Having caught Elvis on the "Hayride", he had eagerly brought back early Presley releases to put on sale in his record repair shop.

Jimmy Work's biggest country hit was his first release, "Makin' Believe" on Dot Records. He had eight singles on the label through 1957. In 1959, he also recorded two singles for All Records.

Elvis Presley performed at the Creole Club in Mobile, Alabama, and it drew a hastily organized local fan club. Throughout this tour Elvis Presley closed his show performing "That's All Right" twice. He laughed the people out as he left the stage. After the show, Elvis Presley met a fan, Virginia Sullivan. She was a buxom, raven-haired beauty who had sent Elvis Presley a titillating letter. Naturally intrigued, Elvis Presley sent word to bring her backstage. When Sullivan arrived, she was wearing a tight blue dress that revealed her full figure. They spent half an hour talking as Elvis Presley unwound. Elvis told her that it was important for him to stay in touch with his fans. After searching out her opinions, Elvis Presley found that the fans often had strange ideas about his musical future. Virginia told Elvis that he should try to sound like Frank Sinatra. Politely, Elvis Presley excused himself and apologized for having to drive back to Shreveport.

Elvis and the band totals up its income at the end of February, earnings have doubled to over $4,000. Bookings will peak the following month, bringing in over $5,000, then return to approximately $1,000 a week through September. Out of this sum, the band pays for its own expenses (gas and automobile maintenance, hotel bills, booking and promotion commission) before making the agreed-upon 50-25-25 split.

According to WERE radio disc jockey Tommy Edwards, ''Although Bill Randle was the undisputed kingpin of the Cleveland area radio scene at that time. I discovered Elvis and brought him to Cleveland. We had a big population of people coming up from West Virginia, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. They came to work in the auto factories, and they didn't have an outlet for country, what we called hillbilly, music at the time. So I prevailed upon my bosses to let me try a country show, just on Saturday, in my same time slot''.

''I called myself the city slicker turned country boy, and I leveled with the people straight away and said, 'Now, I don't know a darned thing about this music, but you help me out and I'll play it''. ''One of the country acts I brought in town was Elvis Presley, then a Sun Records artist. It was in February 1955. I heard his recording of ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', which is one of the greatest all-time bluegrass songs. I think we paid $350 for all four of them. That included a manager, Bob Neal, Elvis, Scotty, and Bill Black. Elvis was nothing sensational''.

''I level with people today'', Edwards continued, ''cause everybody else says: 'the minute I heard that boy, I knew'! and I never Felt that way at all. I thought he'd be big for a year and a half or so and then die out and somebody new would take his place. I never dreamed in my wildest dreams that he'd go that far''. After the show, the concise appraisal Edwards offered his readers was that ''Elvis Presley knocked the little girls dead''.

Tommy Edwards brought Elvis Presley to meet with Bill Randle, who was also a top disc jockey at WCBS in New York and consequently commuted between the two cities. ''I took Presley down to the studio on 12th Street. Randle was doing an all night show, a Saturday night request-type show or some damned thing like that. He had the habit of letting people cool their heels off in the outer office or in the hallway, and he'd call somebody in when he was good and ready to. He liked to make people wait, especially song pluggers. If they had to report back to their offices in New York that they hadn't seen Randle, there'd be hell to pay. He loved his power.

''I went in and said, I got the kid out here', and Randle said, 'OK, I'll get to him'. So we must've waited 20-25 minute, and then he gave Elvis a perfunctory little interview, two minutes or so. He sloughed him off, in other words, which was an indication that he didn't think much of him either. This was the first appearance by Elvis in Cleveland. But the second time he came out, Randle's attitude had completely changed''.

Bill Randle invited Bob Neal to sleep at his place: ''Bob Neal to my mind was a really interesting person. He was very bright. He was a country disc jockey, but he was also a businessman-entrepreneur-hustler, but with a lot of class'', recalled Edwards.

Randle gave Neal a contract to get Elvis a try-out on CBS-TV's top-rated variety show, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, a network broadcast that Neal thought might break Presley big time.

Back in his office in Madison, Tennessee, Colonel Tom Parker was trying to get longtime business associate Harry Kalcheim, of the powerful William Morris talent agency in New York, to take an active part in Elvis Presley's career development. ''I feel sure we can make money with him when we get him exploited properly'', he wrote.


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