(Above) ''The First Years'', released in 1979 on the HALW, Inc. HALW 00001 label, the release originated in the USA. The cover, which is printed in black and white, features an early
promo, perhaps the first, of Elvis, Scotty and Bill under which the track listing appears. The original release has a number embossed in the upper right had corner of the cover. The back of the cover has a copy of Elvis’ original July 12, 1954 personal
contract with Scotty Moore. Because Elvis was only 19 at the time and was a minor, his parents had to sign as well. There are several other photos as well.
The LP has
pink labels and black text; side one is titled “The First Year ” and side two “Elvis Presley Live ”. The first side has a now familiar but still incredibly interesting interview with Scotty Moore regarding their first meeting, first
recording, and early shows. The interview runs as a monologue with the questions edited out. The Starlight Wrangler situation was interesting. The second side also has now familiar material from Eagles’ Hall from early 1955 ( March 19, 1955 to be exact
), mis-credited as Cook’s Hoedown Club. The sound quality on both sides is excellent given a good pressing and minimal surface noise.
The LP was counterfeited twice
circa 1980, neither of which have the embossed number on the cover. The first has lighter pink labels with both sides both titled “The First Year ”. The second has yellow labels with black text. Both subsequent releases have degraded artwork due
THE COOKS HOEDOWN RECORDINGS - The only notation on the tape to indicate a time or place of the recording was the announcer
introducing Presley as being in Houston, Texas. The announcer was later discovered to be Bob Winsett Hunter, now living in Memphis, Tennessee, who was working at KPRC radio in 1954 and 1955.
It was also established that only two musicians were playing with Elvis Presley on the recording, indicating a time before D.J. Fontana permanently joined the group as the drummer. Scotty Moore, the original guitarist with Elvis, was contacted
for affirmation of his appearance on the tape.
That was the beginning of hours of discovery of here to unknown facts about the first year in the dynamic career of the
three young men from Memphis.
Scotty Moore tells the story on this recording of what it was like, how they survived weeks of playing and hoping without pay, what the
audience reaction was to this phenomena, how the first record was made, how the style of music was born, and much more. The photographs appearing in the booklet are from collections of Scotty Moore, and his former wife Bobbie Moore. Bill Collie, Nashville,
Tennessee, one of the country music world's best known voices and strongest supporters, contributed immeasurably by recalling his part in the bookings of the group in the Houston area and as one of the first country disc jockey’s in the Nation to play
the Sun recordings of Elvis Presley. Fate was also kind in providing the service of Stanley Kesler, author of "I Forgot To Remember To Forget" and "You're Right, I'm Left, She's Gone" as producer-engineer, and to assist in the research. Reprints of newspapers
ads and stories courtesy of the Houston Post, The Houston Chronicle, and Scripts-Howard Newspaper, Incorporated.
THRU THE KALEIDOSCOPE
– Like Alice in Wonderland, it all appeared to have inverse logic. The thing that were supposed to make sense were becoming obsolete or extinct, and the thing that seemed absolutely senseless found huge acceptance in a world hone mad with matter, money
and morals. One hundred sixty-five million John Q Publics living in the United States in 1954 had adopted the personality of the Mad Hatter Hare in Lewis Carrol's famous story, in a hurry to get to a very important place. They didn't know where, they just
knew it was someplace else.
James Dean had struck they key note in "Rebel Without A Cause", only to meet with an early demise in a collision with one of nature's more
stable creations. Senator Joseph McCarthney had a cause that founds its way into 26 million American homes via television, that marvellous new wonder in black and white.
bringing about the demise of McCarthney a nation was exposed to its divisions. The United States Supreme Court in the landmark case of Brown VS. The United States ruled that "separate but equal" was no longer acceptable to the Court's interpretation of the
14th Amendment to the Constitution. Immediate racial de-segregation of the nation's public schools was ordered and the long, sordid story of implementation began.
Fisher, a popular singer of the moment, left America's Sweetheart, Debbie Reynold's, for the world's most glamorous woman, Elizabeth Taylor. We were building bomb shelters in our basements, backyards and office buildings while the scientist exploded the second
Hydrogen Bomp in the Bikini atoll. The result was a new fashion in swim attire named for the de-nuded island. In a matter of days, Dr. Enrico Fermi, Italian physicist, who had spear-headed the development of the original Atomic Bomp, died of cancer, and the
nation's first Atomic submarine Nautilus, was launched at Groton, Connecticut. The French capitulated to the Communist Vietmin in Indochina, thereby clearing the way for the establishment of North Vietnam. Jonas Salk inoculated nine hundred thousands school
children with anti-poliomyelitis vaccine. The TV moguls cancelled Sid Ceasar's highly successful "Show Of Shows", and brought us the monotone, cryptic dialogue of the Los Angeles cop Jack Wedd's Dragnet. This was all in 1954, and, if that wasn't enough to
made a Phi Betta Kappa key look like a pass to the local Play Boy Club, we learned to launch at war as we watched John Patrick's play "Teahouse Of The August Moon", saw brilliance in Jack Kerouac's dissertation on gasoline pumps in his essay, "On The Road",
and enjoyed watching Betty Furness make love to a Westinghouse refrigerator each week on Playhouse 90.
These were the signs of the time. It is small wonder then that
when Scotty Moore met Elvis Presley for the first time in mid-1954, neither gave a second thought to the illogical coupling of "race" music and Hillbilly songs. Perhaps Bill Black with his genius for comedy was the only one of the three to see humour of it
all. It was quite one thing to get together and amuse themselves with their little joke, but it was something else to entertain the megalomania of record producer Sam Phillips and assume that here was the new music of the nation. Ah, but as I said this was
1954, and nobody knew where they were going; only that they were in a hurry to get there. It was as if the messenger was far more important than the message. And so he was. Message came later. For now it was show-time, and the world was treated to one of the
greatest shows of all time.
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black took their thing to the world on Phillips' Sun Recordings of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" and "That's
All Right", and the world took to the new music like Alice at the Queen's tea party. They were praised, cursed, adored, banned, and generally regarded as responsible for everything that was happening in the nation, good and bad. Here was the most inventive
creation to come to the recording medium since the hole in the center of the label. More than the records, though, it was the personal appearance, the real live see him in person thing, that blew people's minds. How it all started, and where it began are the
focal points of this recording. What it begot is well known history by now. For the first time you may hear the overture to one helluva show. After a year of pain-staking research of one years in the lives of a number of my friends, both present and past,
without whom there would never have been a story to tell, here Ladies and Gentlement is "The First Year".
- Liner notes by Bill Hefferman
MARCH 20, 1955 SUNDAY
According to a brief mention in Billboard, April 2, 1955, Elvis Presley may have been in the Houston
area for several days playing other shows booked by Biff Collie and Jack Starness, Jr. No doubt two of these appearances were at Magnolia Gardens this afternoon and at Cook's Hoedown Club, Houston, Texas, in the evening.
In an interview with Biff Collie, Elvis Presley complained about getting rest on the road. Collie ask, "I known the problem on these tours is getting enough rest to go on the stage. How do you manage to get enough
rest". Elvis said, "Well, I don't. In fact, don't any of us get much rest. It's a lot of work when you do three shows a day. We do four shows sometimes". Collie ask, "So you just have to catch it when you can"?. Elvis said, "That's right. Then usually, when
it's all over with, there's a lot of people around and, well, you just don't get much rest". And Collie ask, "Between towns, you have to climb in the sack somewhere to rest awhile". Elvis said, "That's right. We average about four to five hours (of sleep)
MARCH 21, 1955 MONDAY
According to Sally Reese resident of Parkin
says, that Elvis Presley performed at the Parkin High School in Parkin, Arkansas. ''I sat on the front row. Remember he had on either pink pants and a chartreuse jacket or chartreuse pants and a pink jacket. They didn't go together, they were so bright. And
I remember I screamed and yelled, like everybody else. I was the first one on the stage to get his autograph. My father was at the show. He sat at the back of the auditorium, but unlike some other parents it didn't disturb him. The suit was satin! We stormed
that stage. It affected you that way. I had never experienced anything like that. It was fantastic''.
On this date, a incoming rejection letter to Sam Phillips of Sun
Record Company from a Los Angeles record manufacturer. Simply put, an Elvis Presley rejection letter from a Los Angeles record distributor who couldn’t have known that a year later, Elvis would change the world with ''Heartbreak Hotel''.
''Elvis Presley records would not sell in Los Angeles'', Nate Duroff of the Monarch Record states flatly in this letter on white Monarch stationery, paraphrasing another record exec. ''I
know for a fact that western and hillbilly out here ‘stinks’ as far as sales… southern blues are very weak in sales also… a rock and roll in western and hillbilly, such as Bill Haley records would move good out here''. Duroff then
signed the letter in blue pen.