ELVIS SUN 1955 (6)
June 1, 1955 to June 30, 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 <


As RCA, Columbia, Decca, Mercury, Capitol, and Atlantic Records grew familiar with Elvis Presley's music, Colonel Tom Parker was busy molding his future protege into a mainstream musical act. The Colonel was impressed with Sam Phillips' regional success in merchandising Elvis' records. Not only were the Sun discs selling well, but they were purchased by a diverse mix of white country fans, young rhythm and blues devotees, and black people.

As a result of Elvis Presley's unique pattern of record sales, Tom Parker paid more attention to the concert audience, and the way the fans reacted to Elvis' music. During his years in the country music field, Parker had always been intrigued by the changes in audiences. He recognized that Elvis Presley was a unique act, and during the Hank Snow tour he decided that Elvis Presley's special performing qualities, including his sex appeal and swaggering musical gyrations, were the outlandish key to his exceptional appeal.

Tom Parker had an old-fashioned sense of burlesque, and he urged Elvis Presley to exploit his stage mannerisms, suggesting that Elvis Presley add even more energy to his stage show.


During the summer of 1955, Arnold Shaw, visited Memphis and Nashville, where he quickly recognized Elvis Presley's breakthrough talent. Not only was Shaw an important figure in the music business but, as the director of the creative department of the Edward B. Marks Music Corporation, Arnold Shaw was in a position to influence records moguls. His office, located in the RCA building in New York City, on what is now the Avenue Of The Americas, was a place where he frequently exchanged opinions with RCA executives.

After five o'clock, when the workday ended, Arnold Shaw and RCA's younger record heads often stopped off at Manhattan bars and discussed emerging performers like Elvis Presley. Shaw talked about Elvis' obvious talent, and relayed his stories about his trip to Memphis. Shaw beamed as he described listening to the recordings of Elvis Presley's music, record moguls paid attention. Had it not been for Shaw's enthusiasm, RCA might have continued to ignore Elvis Presley.

Randy Wood, the president of Dot Records bid 10,000 for Elvis Presley's contract, Sam Phillips leaked the Dot Records offer to other labels, attracting even more interest. Most of all, Sam Phillips was attempting to interest Columbia Records in Elvis Presley, because Columbia's prestige would bring every other major record company into the bidding. Much to Sam Phillips surprise, however, Mitch Miller, Columbia's chief talent scout, indicated that Phillips' $20,000 asking price was too high for "the unknown Hillbilly singer". Miller offered $15,000. Dee Kilpatrick of Mercury Records bid $10,000. After being rebuffed, Kilpatrick wanted to increase the bid, but he cound't convince the label's key executives of Presley's worth.

JUNE 1955

There were important technological advances in the recording industry beginning around this time. When Atlantic Records decided to record an obscure New Orleans jazzman, Wilber de Paris, in "binaural" sound, the industry responded with disbelief. Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler, the creative forces behind Atlantic, appeared to have lost their minds, as the binaural process required a record player with two needles. The record was not a hit, but Ertegun and Wexler ultimately had the last laugh; realizing that recording technology was on the verge of vast improvement, they led the way in experimenting with a fuller sound despite the naysayers, and garnered the attention of many innovative and creative musicians as well as a great deal of favourable publicity.

This experimentation with sound came just at the right time, and was another timely aspect of the changes that benefit Elvis Presley as he came to the fore. The American public had entered the era of the "hi-fi" craze, and consumers spent thousands of dollars on new equipment. A flood of amplifiers, preamplifiers, FM tuners, and speakers with sophisticated woofers and tweeters created a new industry.

Interest in the 78rpm recording evaporated as quickly as the interest in vinyl did when compact disc were introduced decades later. In June 1955, Columbia Records totally abandoned 78s to concentrate upon long-playing albums and 45rpm records. Having anticipated the developments in hardware, Atlantic Records made a fortune in this market. The business of rock and roll was on its way to immense profits as a result of the new recording technology.

JUNE 1955

"Elvis Presley continues to gather speed over the South", writes Cecil Holifield, operator of the Record Shops in Midland and Odessa, Texas. "West Texas is his hottest territory to date", continues Holifield, "and he is the teenagers' favourite whenever he appears. His original appearance in the area was in January, with Billy Walker at Midland, Texas, to more than 1,600 paid admissions. In February, with Hank Snow at Odessa, 20 miles from Midland, paid attendance hit over 4,000. On April 1, we booked only Elvis and his boys, Bill and Scotty, plus Floyd Cramer on piano and a local boy on drums for a rockin' and rollin' dance for teenagers, and pulled 850 paid admissions. We are booking Elvis for May 31, heading his own show with Ferlin Husky, the Carlisles, Martha Carson, J.E. and Maxine Brown and Onie Wheeler on a round robin starting at 7:30 p.m. in Midland and 8:30 p.m. in Odessa. Incidentally, our sales of Presley's four records have beat any individual artist in our eight years in the record business".

First Annual Country and Western Popularity Poll, a three-week contest run recently by Bobby Ritter over WTUP, Tupelo, Miss., drew 1,016 cards and letters from 16 States. In the contest's three categories, Kitty Wells placed first among the top 10 female singers; Elvis Presley, was first among the top 10 male vocalists, and the Simmons Brothers, WTUP artists, wound up in the no. 1 spot among country and western bands...

The Hank Snow Show, with Faron Young, the Wilburn Brothers and Elvis Presley, played before an overflow crowd of 2,7000 in Ocala, Fla., May 10, reports Nervous Ned Needham, country and western disc jockey at WMOP, Ocala...


Charlie Feathers claimed a session he cut with Elvis Presley at a West Helena radio station in 1955. "Some tough goddamn stuff, baby", he says matter-of-factly with a certain glumness that seems at odds with the brash nature of his claims.


The tour continued with an appearance in Guymon, Oklahoma, at the High School Auditorium. The 8:00 p.m. show, which was billed as "direct from the Grand Ole Opry", cost only 30-cents for children and $1.00 for adults. Added to the roster for this show was Al Rogers of KGNL-TV. On the bill that day, Elvis Presley, Ferlin Husky, the Carliles, Martha Carson, Onie Wheeler, Jim Edward and Maxinine Brown.


Back in Texas, the show stopped in Amarillo at the City Auditorium in Texas. The information for this show comes from the same Billboard item (May 28, 1955). There is no ad in the Amarillo News-Globe for this show. A list of "Coming Events" in the May 22 edition of the paper does not list anything in town for June 2. On the other hand, a Webb Pierce tour is scheduled for the Auditorium at 3 p.m. on May 29 followed by a stop by the Clover Club at 8 o'clock. There appears to have been no make-up show scheduled for Elvis Presley.


At 7:00 p.m. in the Cotton Club in Lubbock, Texas, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black made a brief appearance at the Johnson Connelley Pontiac showroom. Opening for Elvis Presley was the local band Buddy and Bob (Buddy Holly and Bob Montgomery).

"Johnson-Connelly Pontiac was opening its new dealership that day on Avenue Q, just north on Broadway", said Dr. Marsha Abbott. "Elvis played the opening in the showroom. We had already seen him before and we had his records.

We were fans. There wasn't a very bog crowd at the Pontiac place. After he finished, Elvis stood there and talked with us and he signed his name on my arm. I said I was never going to wash that off, but my mother didn't think that was a good idea. She made me wash it off. We went to the show that night at the Fair Park and after that, went out with Elvis to eat hamburgers at the Hi-D-Ho Drive-In, where they delivered the burger to your car on skates", said Abbott.

Dee Dick remembers Elvis arriving in his Cadillac for the Pontiac dealership opening in Lubbock. "I was dressed in pink short shorts", she recalls. "He commented on my shorts. Then he picket me up and put me on the hood of his Cadillac. I was fifteen''.

''Years later, we were touring Graceland and I saw that Cadillac on display there and I shouted, 'That's the car! That's the Cadillac! My butt was once sitting right there on that hood".

Later that night, Elvis Presley appeared at the Fairpark Coliseum in Lubbock, Texas. The club/dance hall was actually in the city of Slaton, located in the Southeast part of Lubbock County about 15 miles outside of Lubbock on Highway 84.

It was owned and operated by Lubbock native Ralph Lowe and his family and according to the book Rockin Across Texas by Stanley Oberst, the club booked the best talent that waltzed through West Texas from Bob Wills to Harry James.

The June 3rd show at the Fair Park Coliseum featured both Opry and Hayride acts. On the bill with Elvis were Ferlin Husky, Jim Ed and Maxine Brown and Onie Wheeler. The Browns and Elvis had shared many dates in Texas and Arkansas, here show Elvis at the Fair Park Coliseum with Buddy Holly and Bob Montgomery looking on.

Lubbock's Cotton Club was typical of the venues that Tom Parker helped book. Since the club drew large crowds, most entertainers were happy to work there. It was not only Lubbock's leading country dance hall, but it was a well-known venue booking the best travelling country acts. That night at the Cotton Club, Elvis' share of the door more than $100. Although this was not a large sum, Elvis Presley was only one of many acts. The Lubbock show also included Ferlin Husky, Martha Carson, the Carlisles, the Browns, George and Earl, and Onie Wheeler.

Buddy Holly and Bob Montgomery, performing locally as Buddy and Bob, came to hear Elvis Presley sing his rockabilly songs that night. (An interesting sidelight to Holly's visit involved footage of Elvis; the small movie camera caught the growing confidence and professional stage presence that was to soon make Elvis Presley the hottest "unknown" musical act in America). During Elvis Presley's appearance, Buddy Holly walked over during the intermission and chatted with Elvis Presley. Holly later told his business manager, "Hi Pockets" Duncan, that Elvis Presley offered a great deal of encouragement. The next day on Holly's radio show over KDAV, he performed a number of Elvis' songs.

According to Bob Neal, ''Elvis was always very unhappy about the reaction from the boys, because he very much wanted to be one of the boys and a favorite of theirs, but the boys reacted very violently in many areas against Elvis because, I suppose, of the way the girls acted. I know in some towns they even had to get out police guards because there would be all sorts of threats. We're going to gang you tonight, mob you, and so forth. This happeneed several times out in West Texas that I know of. San Angelo and Lubbock and some of the other towns out there, we actually had to make arrangements to have some kind of police protection around Elvis at all times for fear that some nut would come in and try to create damage"'.

Biographer Jerry Hopkins ask. ''Didn't sometimes people take a punch''!

Bob Neals answer, ''That happened several... one night in Lubbock it was actually sort of funny in retrospect. We'd been warned before we went into Lubbock that there was going to be trouble so we had arranged with the police in Lubbock to have protection and the first show or two that Elvis did in Lubbock, we would do a show down at the Fair Park auditorium and then later pick up another $300-$400 by going out to some sort of night club. I don't remember the name of the club. The nightclub was in the counties so we had county deputies take over when we left the city. And everything had gone smoothly. We had no trouble at all. About 1 o'clock in the morning about closing time the deputies asked me, 'Well, it looks like everything is quiet, can we go now'? And I said, 'Fine, thank you, fellows'. And we were walking across the parking lot to go get into the car and a voice came out of a car in the dark" 'Hi, Elvis, come over here a minute'. And Elvis walked over friendly, to chat and jusy about the tome he got to thy car, some nut in the car reached out and punched him in the face as hard as he could and then the car burned off and left. Elvis was just completely as mad as anybody could be and he says, 'Let's get in the car. I'd recognize that face if I ever saw it again'. We drove around the streets for three or four hours and finally I persuaded him, 'Look, it's hopeless'. We had to be in Fort Worth the next day. I said: 'Let's leave and forget about it'. But boy, he was trying to find that guy to get his punch back''.


In the "Folk Talent and Tunes" column in Billboard, it was reportedly by Cecil Holifield, owner of record shops in Midland and Odessa, Texas, that Elvis "Elvis Presley continues to gather speed over the South. West Texas is his hottest territory to date, and he is the teenagers' favorite wherever he appears.

His original appearance in the area was in January with Billy Walker.... to more than 1600 paid admissions. In February, with Hank Snow at Odessa... paid attendance hit over 4000.

On April 1 we booked only Elvis and his boys, Bill and Scotty, plus Floyd Cramer on piano and a local boy on drums for a rockin' and rollin' dance for teenagers, and pulled 850 paid admissions... Incidentally, our sales of Presley's four records have beat any individual artist in our eight years in the record business".

This night, Elvis Presley, the Browns, Onie Wheeler, George & Earl, Ferlin Husky, Martha Carson, and the Carlisles appeared on the Louisianan Hayride at the Municipal Auditorium, Shreveport, Louisiana at 8 p.m.


Elvis Presley played New Boston, Texas this date at the High School Football Field. It now appears much more like. No firm confirmation could be ascertained. Levon Helm first saw here Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and D.J. Fontana. Also this day an radio interview for KOSY radio in Texarkana, Arkansas.

According to Janice Wall, ''I was so excited when my disc jockey friend at the radio station let me know that Elvis Presley would be at the station for an interview''.

''My dad was kind enough to let me use the car, so I drove to the station and patiently waited for Elvis and his band members to come out. I was delighted to see that no one else was waiting and I wouldn't have to compete for taking pictures. Needles to say, I was disappointed when he walked out with an attractive blonde on his arm. I felt a twinge of jealousy. Elvis was so nice and gracious to let me take some pictures though (which did not include the blonde). He told me they were going to the Leo Theater to see Blackboard Jungle. I wonder if his girlfriend knew how much she was envied. Oh well, I was only sixteen, but I could dream''.

On June 6, Hill and Range's Grelun Landon contacted Bob Neal for publicity materials. Hill and Range had acquired ''That's All Right'' earlier in the year, and the upcoming Florida tour with headliner Andy Griffith required promotional material to help push the songs and get ''those lovely performances'' and trigger music publisher royalties.

Meanwhile, Tom Parker wrote to Bob Neal complaining that he had not yet received the publicity photos and promo records he needed. He suggested that Neal and Elvis should come to Nashville and sit down and talk it all through. The following week, Parker even threw in the bait of taking Elvis to Las Vegas with Hank Snow, writing that he had a good friend there that could help.

The tour schedule for June hit the The Cash Box offices before Bob Neal had finalized all the details. There would be many changes to the original schedule over the next three weeks.

LEVON HELM - Musician born in Marvell, Arkansas, on May 26, 1943. Helm was the drummer on Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawk's two 1959 hit songs "Forty Days" (Roulette 4154) (a cover of Chuck Berry's "Thirty Days" (Chess 1610) and "Mary Lou" (Roulette 4177) (a cover of Young Jessie's 1955 version (Modern 961). In the 1960s the Hawks evolved into the Band, which backed Bob Dylan. Levon Helm portrayed singer Loretta Lynn's coal-miner father in the 1980 movie Coal Miner's Daughter. In 1987 Helm narrated the Cinemaz cable TV special "Elvis 56".

(Above) Elvis and Jim Ed Brown are shown enjoying some sweet Arkansas-grown watermelon at Lura May Mitchell's home party thrown during the appearance of Elvis and The Browns at Hope, Arkansas, June 7, 1955. Maxine is sitting behind Jim Ed. Both Maxine and Bonnie joined their brother for this show, one of the early appearances of The Browns as a trio act.


From Shreveport, Elvis Presley drove north to Hope, Arkansas, where he played the indoor Coliseum located in Hope Fair Park. On stage he was dressed in a white lace shirt, black pants and no jacket. The turnout of this Hope appearance was much greater than the poor showing in February.

(Authentication comes from the back of a photo showing Elvis Presley seated on his pink Cadillac behind the Coliseum. It is autographed and dated on the back. It belongs to a fan who desires anonymity).

According to Lura Impson Mitchell, ''June 7, 1955, Elvis had an appointment with Jim Le Fan for a radio interview at KOSY in Texarkana. That night, he had a show booked in Hope at the Fair Park Coliseum. A friend and I drove over to the radio station to visit with him.

After the interview, Elvis asked if it would be all right for them to come home with me and rest before the show. Scotty and Bill had other plans. We drove over to the hotel and waited in the car for them to check in Elvis, Bill, Scotty, Jim Ed, Maxine and Bonnie Brown, Leon Post, and Jimmy Day. When they came out of the hotel, Elvis asked if they could ride with me. Elvis, Jim Ed, Maxine, and Bonnie all got in my car. Leon and Jimmy were in another car. After receiving instructions from Elvis, Scotty and Bill stayed behind with Elvis car. He warned them: no drinking, careful driving, be on time for the show, etc. Elvis rode in the back seat with Bonnie and my friend, Betty Ruth Ruddell. Jim Ed and Maxine were in the front with me. As I remember, I had a white clothes hanger in the back seat. Elvis played with it. They all kidded and clowned with each other on the way back to Hope''.

''When we arrived in Hope, we stopped by my husband's place of business, and he visited with everybody for a few minutes. He later brought watermelons home for all to enjoy.

Since they had eaten lunch before going to the radio station, we didn't worry about that, but Elvis was ready for watermelon, as was everybody else''. ''Later Elvis stretched out on the couch, while others rested wherever they found a place to relax. And some just visited. Meanwhile, somebody discovered the chocolate cake. I offered to prepare dinner, but they did not like to eat a heavy meal before the show. They did all eat chocolate cake and most had milk with it. The afternoon seemed to fly by and it was time to get ready for the show. After a really exciting show, we said our goodbyes, and they headed for their hotel in Texarkana. The next morning, I read in the newspaper, Elvis Presley's pink Cadillac had burned on Highway 67 West, between Hope and Texarkana.

Bobbie Rae Powell was attending a baseball game in the park, when she heard the music. Along with a friend, she ambled over to the Coliseum in time to catch Elvis Presley taking a break. he was standing out front with several entertainers and was wearing black pants with a white stripe down the leg and a pink coat. Bobbie knew of Elvis, but her interest lay with the boys playing baseball.

Shreveport residents and friends Shirley Searcey, Doris McCree, and Jeanette Turner, who had a car, had decided they wanted to drive to Hope, Arkansas, to catch Elvis at the show. Texarkana disc jockey Dudley had booked.

According to Shirley Searcy, ''Elvis' cue to let me know that he was aware that we had arrived, was to start singing ''I Got A Woman''. When I heard that song, I knew he had seen me. The Browns were appearing that night also, so during breaks, Elvis would seek me out, and we would find a quiet little corner to talk. After the show was over, Elvis, Scotty, Bill, Doris, Jeanette, and I all got together, and Jeanette took some photos of Elvis and me along with some fans out on the parking lot in front of the pink Cadillac''.

''We decided to split up and drive to Texarkana. Little did we know that these photos taken by Jeanette would be the last ones taken of the beautiful pink and white 1954 Cadillac in its entirely. Bill, Scotty, Jeanette, and Doris decided to go on ahead in Doris' car, while Elvis and I were to follow with the instruments in the Cadillac. A few miles out of Hope, as Elvis and I were deeply engaged in a conversation regarding Ed Brown's trying to discourage Elvis from dating me (since I wouldn't date him, he wanted to discourage others from dating me also), we notice cars of fans passing us, waving, yelling, and honking their horns. Finally, we pulled to the shoulder of the road, and Elvis and I both go out of the car. We smelled the acrid odor of smoke, and about that time we saw the flames licking out from under the car. Elvis immediately tried to throw dirt and rocks on the flames, which were more confined to the backside of the rear tire on the driver's side. He then crawled under the rear of the car and tried to throw mostly small rocks on the fire( it had rained that day and a very little dirt was available). I kept calling him out from under the vehicle, telling him I was afraid the gas tank might explode. Luckily, we had managed to throw the instruments and suitcases out. By that time, we had managed to send word on into Texarkana to Scotty, Bill, and others, and soon they all returned to our location. Fortunately, Jeanette still had film left in the camera had managed to get some shots of the burned and smoking vehicle''.

''We loaded up the instruments, and all drove back onto Texarkana to place a telephone call to Vernon and Gladys to bring the pink and white Ford Crown Victoria that Elvis had purchased for them, so the musicians could continue out return trip to Shreveport. While we were waiting for Vernon and Gladys to drive in from Memphis, we had all assembled in a room in a motel. Elvis was, understandably, most distraught, and stretched out in the bed. He was dealing with a very strenuous exertion of energy from the lengthy performance in Hope, plus the stress from the vehicle mishap. I sitting close by, observed his body shake and quiver for what seemed like hours as he tried to relax. The parents finally arrived; after a few hurried greetings and comments and tearful goodbyes, we girls headed out on our return journey to Shreveport''.

(Above) Even Gwen Telford of Texarkana, who was kissed by Elvis Presley a month earlier, remembers that she was visiting her aunt and uncle in Hope when she heard that Elvis Presley was performing in town. Unfortunately, she arrived at the park after his show was over. She did get a chance to renew Elvis' acquaintance, although she wouldn't say if she was kissed a second time.

About halfway to Texarkana in Fulton, Arkansas, Elvis Cadillac catches on fire and burn out. People recall Elvis sitting by the side of the road, looking desolate as he watched his dreams go up in smoke. From Texarkana, Scotty returns to Memphis to get the new pink-and white Ford Crown Victoria that Elvis has recently purchased for his parents.

According to Scotty Moore, ''We were staying in Texarkana, about 15 miles from the town where we;d played. What happened was a wheel bearing went out. Bill and I rode back with some of the other guys, 'cause Elvis his chick with him.

They were comin' behind us. He wasn't paying' no damn attention to the car, and all of sudden he realized the damn thing was on fire. He couldn't put it out. All he could do is open the trunk and throw all our clothes and instruments out. The next date was Sweetwater, I believe. We took a small plane the next morning, barely got off the ground because instruments weighed so much. Brought folks' '55 pink and white Ford. Someone drove it down''.

Shirley McDade said, Elvis called the night the Cadillac burned and asked me to meet him in a little Texas town the next day, but my parents wouldn't let me. He called me at about 11 at night and told me that his car burned, and cried. Said to meet him in Sweetwater, but my parents said no because of a sandstorm''.


"The Elvis Presley Show" played the Sweetwater Auditorium, Texas at 8:00 p.m. Also on the bill Capitol recording star, Dub Dickerson, Gene Kay and others. Advanced tickets cost $1.00 and children 50 cents. Tickets at Harp Music & Sweetwater Music Shop at doors $1,25 and children 75 cents, Tax Inc..

Jane Rhyne, who was just barely a teenager at the time, remembers the "off-color" jokes told by Bill Black almost as vividly as she remembers Elvis' performance. "We were pretty protected in those days", she recalls.

M.G.M. A&R man Frank Walker, sent 4:46 p.m. Sam Phillips an telegram that reads: "Sam would you please write me air mail M.G.M. Records, 701 Seventh Avenue, New York City, whether or not Elvis Presley is available for making records I have head that he was and I am interested. Will appreciate any information". # Frank Walker #.


Elvis joined a Hank Snow tour for a show at the National Guard Armoury in Lawton, Oklahoma. The other performers on this road show included Ferlin Husky, Marty Robbins, Sonny James, the Maddox Brothers and Rose and Rhetta, the Bellew Twins, and the Texas Stompers.

Elvis Presley spent a lot of time backstage talking with Marty Robbins, and was surprised to find out the extent to which Robbins loved his music.

On December 7, 1954, Marty Robbins had recorded "That's All Right" using Elvis' Sun recording as his model. In fact, Robbins' version was a virtual copy of Elvis' record, the only difference being a fiddle bridge. Robbins was apologetic for his song's similarity, but Elvis Presley was flattered that someone else had recorded it in his style.

Marty Robbins told Elvis Presley that he, too, hoped to cross over from the country field into a broader pop market, and he expressed a desire to record rock and roll. After spending two days together in Lawton, Elvis Presley and Marty Robbins had established a special bond between one another.

JUNE 10, 1955 FRIDAY

Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black stopped by Breckenridge, Texas, to pick up a quick $300 for an 8:00 p.m. show at the American Legion Hall. According to Ken Hayden's recollections in the Breckenridge American (September 13, 1989), the Legion building, like so many similar facilities of the day, was not air conditioned. Consequently, the one thing that most of the 1,500 fans who attended the show remembered - after Elvis Presley's wild gyrations on stage - was the stifling heat. Following the show Elvis Presley spent the night at Rowe's Motel.


Elvis Presley returned to Shreveport and the "Louisiana Hayride", he lacked his normal energy. After Elvis Presley closed the show with "That's All Right", he complained to Scotty Moore and Bill Black that he was tired. The Blue Moon Boys and Elvis Presley were scheduled to perform twenty of the next twenty-five nights.

Bill Black complained that they were musically ragged because of the heavy tour schedule, but everybody knew that the road was necessary, especially Elvis Presley, who had just purchased a new pink Cadillac and had car payments to make.

A planned show in El Dorado on the 16th was cancelled, as the building was not available, and an evening show in Gobler on the 15th was called off on short notice because of a local musician's union issue. Bob Neal had to rearrange the week, and with the help of Jim Le Fan in Texarkana, a show in De Queen was scheduled. The cancellation of the El Dorado show could not be replaced, so the two Mississippi dates were each moved back, making Monday a day off.

In a letter from Tom Parker to Tom Diskin, Parker argued that it would take ''patience and skill'' to develop Elvis in order to present him in new territories. He blamed Neal for inability to handle Elvis, and suggested they go slow, watching Elvis and Neal. Parker's anxiousness was fueled by the news that the readers of The Cash Box magazine had chosen Elvis as the ''most promising male vocalist of 1955'', making the progress of Elvis' career obvious to everyone in the business. They very next day, the Colonel sent another letter to Neal, further emphasizing the need for planning, stating that he was ready to take over after the July tour in Florida and Neal's bookings for the first week of August. He went on to say that Neal should send him all contracts, especially the Hayride contract, as he believed they could do better on this issue.

A meeting between Neal and Parker eventually took place on June 17, and Parker managed to convince Neal to let his office take care of all bookings. They agreed to get Elvis away from Sun, and that Bob Neal should remain Elvis' personal manager.

JUNE 13, 1955 MONDAY

Elvis Presley spent probably the night in Tupelo, Mississippi. It was good to see old friends, and Elvis Presley spent a great deal of time visiting with his former neighbours.


Elvis started a short tour with two shows in Bruce, Mississippi in the High School Gymnasium, and the show in Bruce benefited the senior class of 1955-56 that was raising money for their annual senior trip.

Accompanying Elvis Presley for the next two days was Onie Wheeler and Bob Neal, who acted as the show's emcee. The opening acts were the Miller Sisters and the Simmons Brothers.

The Miller Sisters, one of Elvis' supporting acts during this brief period, specifically recall a show at the High School Gymnasium in Saltillo, a small town just north of Tupelo. "He was really cocky", said one of the Miller Sisters, "I remember Elvis asked me to hold his guitar, and I said, 'Hold it yourself. I'm not your flunky!".

Colonel Tom Parker writes to Tom Diskin concerning his feelings about Bob Neal's inability to handle Elvis and book him properly. He stresses that it will take patience and skill to build up Elvis' popularity before sending him into new territory, ''Let's go slow'', he concludes, ''and watch Neal on Elvis''. Parker writes to Neal on the same day, suggesting that perhaps with great salesmanship he can get Elvis at Las Vegas booking, but that since he is still an unknown performer he will have to really ''prove his worth'' once he gets there.

THE SIMMONS BROTHERS - Like the Miller Sisters, came from Tupelo. The act featured "Jumping" Gene Simmons, who had a 1958 Sun Records release with "Drinkin' Wine","I Done Told You" (SUN 299) followed by the hit "Haunted House" on Memphis' Hi label in 1964.

According to Nell Donaldson, ''The first time I ever saw Elvis was in Bruce, Mississippi, Pink pants and a black top. Scotty was married at that time to a lady by the name of Bobbie. I happened to be the one to chauffeur her to the bathroom. In the conversation I told her that when I got out of school I wanted to attend modeling school, and she told me that she was going to the modeling school in Memphis. She sent me a brochure, and I wrote back to thank here. When the show was over, she carried me on stage and Elvis kissed me''.

Jimmie Ruth Melvin says, ''We were going to be seniors that fall, and we were earning money for our trip, and that's why we had him come and sing at our high school. Bruce was a town with about 2,000 people. I remember my mother had made me a new dress. I'm very tall, and at the time I was very thin, and my mother made all my clothes. I sat on the first or second row. I was at the stage at some point. I was a class officer. I went backstage, and I don't remember whom I went there with, but I was with somebody, because I would never have had the nerve to go back there by myself''.

''Somebody was on stage, I don't remember whom, but Elvis came up behind me. He put his arms around me, and he said something ridiculous, as you would say to a teenage girl. I was so dumbfounded that I couldn't say much of anything, and then he kissed me on the neck. This was a very small town, so it didn't take long before the whole town knew that Elvis had kissed Jimmie'', she remembers.


Remaining in Mississippi, Elvis Presley, Gene Simmons and his brothers and the other performers moved on to another High School Gymnasium in Belden for an 8:00 p.m. performance. Added to the bill was local disc jockey Bob Ritter, he recalls that in order to get the building without being mobbed, Elvis has to crawl through a back window, ripping the seat of his pants, which have to be held together with a safety pin during his performance.

Elvis performed, ''You're A Heartbreaker'', I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone'', ''Good Rockin' Tonight'', Milkcow Blues Boogie'', ''I Got A Woman'', ''Baby Let's Play House'', ''That's All Right'', and ''Pledging My Love''.

According to Bobby Ritter, disc jockey and concert promoter from Tupelo, ''About 30 members of Elvis' family came through the backstage area. They didn't stay there, just got in for free. When he played Belden that night, he got the news that The Cash Box magazine had voted him ''country music newcomer of the year''. Bob Neal and me talked about it that night, and we said, 'How big can he be'? and Bob said, 'He is going to be the biggest thing in the country has ever seen'. If you just stood there and listened to him, you might have said the same. You had never heard this before; it was something entirely new and different. Although there were other people making rock music, there was nothing like him. In my case, I had never heard that beat before''.

Elvis Presley and Bobby Ritter swapped cars that night, as Elvis borrowed Bobby's two-tone blue Ford in order to move about without drawing too much attention.


Elvis Presley performed De Queen, Arkansas at the Sevier County Fair. According to Dub Chandler, local performer, that Elvis arrived with Jim Ed and Maxine Brown. When Maxine wanted to light a cigarette with the car lighter, it got caught in her dress and burned a hole in it. Beckey Allen, sister of Dub Chandler said, ''We, Becky and her sister Louis, performed as the Chandler Sisters''.

''We filled in for Tibby Edwards. Elvis came in a Ford, his mother's car. I lent him my comb and also guitar strings. I had to wash the comb because of what Elvis had in his hair. Kept the broken guitar strings for years''.

James Bales said, ''He came to town in the Ford Crown, white top with pink bottom. He appeared at the old ballpark south of town. The headliners for the show were Jim Ed and Maxine Brown.

Another singer named Tibby Edwards, who sang like Hank Williams, was supposed to be there also, but did not show. Therefore, Jim Ed, Maxine, and Elvis did more songs. After the show, he went down to Hills cafe, ate chicken fried steak, and had a slice of watermelon. A few guys stayed and talked to him until 2:00 a.m.. He stayed in the old Best Western motel across from Wilkerson Funeral Home behind the post office. He was in the last room on the right side of the motel facing Stillwel Avenue. My sister lived in Shreveport, and I would ride the train down and go to the Louisiana Hayride on Saturday nights. I had seen him on the Hayride many times, so we talked about that some. He let me wear his orange colored cashmere sport coat''.

Lindell Smith said, ''I know he was really interested in cars because me and my friends were sitting with him a a table in the restaurant. I didn't know anything about cars, but some of my buddies did. Hill Cafe was the most popular restaurant in town at the time, big nice restaurant. We all ate. The two guys who were with him were sitting up at the counter. When they had finished, they tried to get him to come along. They kept telling him they had to go, and he said, 'In a minute'. He finally got angry and said, 'I'll tell you when I'm ready to go'''.

Marie McCoy said, ''He played on the back of a flatbed truck. We sat on the rodeo bleachers. It cost 50 cents to get in. He played '' That's All Right''. and he played real hard and strong, and he broke a string, and they had to replace the string on his guitar. After the show, I went down to talk to him, and he signed my picture. The picture was 8 x 10 glossy and cost 25 cents. They were talking about heading up the road up to Mena, going up the old 71; a very dangerous road back then. They were talking about the dangerous road, and it was late at night''.

JUNE 17, 1955 FRIDAY

Eventually, they loaded everything into the Chevy and went to the airport. Here, Elvis Presley left the others with the car and chartered a light plane to Abilene, Texas. There he found ground transportation to take him the forty miles to Stamford.

That evening, at 9:00 p.m., Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black (as they were advertised) gave a performance at Roundup Hall, the Gymnasium of Stamford High School in Stamford, Texas.

Valerie Harms, a woman who claims to have organized and founded the first Elvis Presley Fan Club in 1955. She first saw Elvis Presley perform on this date on June 17, 1955.

Bob Neal travels to see the Colonel ad his headquarters in Madison, Tennessee, where the two men arrive at the basis of the understanding that the Colonel has been seeking all along, Neal will remain Elvis' manager, but from July 24 all booking and long-term planning will be handled by the Colonel's office, including a concerted effort to move the singer off Sun Records and onto a major label.


Elvis Presley, Dick Penner and Wade Moore (the two wrote "Ooby Dooby") appeared together on the Big D Jamboree broadcast in Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas. Colonel Tom Parker was reported to be one of those present for this show, and after witnessing the crowd's reaction to Elvis Presley, he was even more convinced that he should sign Elvis to a managerial contract.

There is no local ad for the Big D on this date, which was normal, but according to Billboard (June 11, 1955), he was scheduled. An article on the Big D Program with the headliner: Center Light On Elvis Presley.... said:

''Boomed as the ''newest and most sensational singer in the business is the way that talented Elvis Presley is described. And for all respect he's at the top now. But, still, he keeps going higher and higher and comes out with more fast-selling hit recordings. The handsome young Presley should certainly set a lasting mark in the history of western folk music''.

''His style is almost inimitable. There may be other singers who sound like him or sing the same songs: But no one can quite match Elvis' stage presentation. His two sidemen, Scotty and Bill, add a great deal to the merriment and with this trio on stage you can be set for some swell entertainment''.

''Perhaps the secret of Elvis' success is his unusual style that lends and blends itself a bit with the new ''rhythm'' music trend. There's quite a bit of bounce in his presentation and the husky and healthy youth almost runs out of breath in putting over one or two songs: But he's game and he loves it. You can tell that he is really putting all he's got into the tune. And the same results energy from his records. But seeing his act in person is the real way to enjoy him''.

''Only twenty years old, the unmarried ''fireball'', as he is often described, is already a top-rated star of Shreveport's Louisiana Hayride program. Presley and his buddies were making a persona-recording when a professional record man overheard the going on and immediately signed him on the Sun label. The result was quick and fabulous record sales starting ''That's All Right'', Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', ''I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine'', ''Milkcow Blues Boogie'' and on and on. He can't make on that isn't a big seller, apparently''.

JUNE 19, 1955 SUNDAY

Elvis Presley performed an afternoon show at the Texas Hayride at the Magnolia Gardens in Houston, probably followed by an evening show at Cook's Hoedown Club.

Tommy Sands appeared also on the Magnolia Gardens, and reported back to Tom Parker that Elvis had said he might go with RCA. It was finally time for Elvis to honour the deal Bob Neal made with Ed McLemore back in April. In addition to four performances on the Big D Jamboree, Elvis handled two more time to fulfill the Lawton show, originally scheduled earlier in June.

On the 21st of June, Colonel Tom Parker wrote to Steve Sholes at RCA to tell him that as of July 24, Elvis would be working through his company, and continued: ''If you have a strong interest in trying to secure Elvis Presley for RCA let me have your thoughts on this as I'm working on this with Bob Neal at present''.


Beaumont, Texas, rolled out the red carpet when Elvis Presley and Marty Robbins came to town! Advertising for their two-day stand was just about the greatest in Elvis' career. The show was plugged for weeks on radio stations within a radius of fifty miles.

The first newspaper ad appeared June 5 in the Beaumont Enterprise, followed by the Beaumont Journal on June 10. Then, beginning June 13, daily ads ran unabated in both papers until show time.

To top it off, there was an article in the Enterprise on June 12, another in the Journal on June 17, and still another in the Enterprise on June 19 and 20. If that was not enough, it was touted that Davy Crocket, a national sensation at the time, would be on hand to greet the kids. (Just who portrayed Mr. Crocket remains a mystery). Tickets for the extravaganza were hawked as far away as Port Arthur and Orange.

Billed as "Stars of the Grand Ole Opry, Louisiana Hayride and Big D Jamboree", Elvis Presley and Marty Robbins and the group played three sold-out shows on Monday at Matinee at 2:30 and on the evening at 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. at the 2,400-seat City Auditorium to benefit the local Police Department. Also featured were the Maddox Brothers with Rose and Rhetta, the Belew Twins, Sonny James, Charlene Arthur, LaFawn Paul of the Hayride, singer/songwriter/emcee Johnny Hicks, and the Texas Stompers, who recorded for Coral Records. Admission was a dollar for adults end children, alike. Ticket were available at the Police Station till 12, and ad the Box Office at the Auditorium.

On Tuesday, "The Season's Greatest Hillbilly Show", as they were called that day in the Enterprise, remained for three additional shows, at 2:30, 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. The evening show prices remained a dollar for everyone, but the matinée allowed kids to come in for half-price.

With each of the five Beaumont shows being a complete sell-out, the total raised for the police department was about $10,000. The entertainment package was reported to have been paid only $225 per day. The event was booked by Ed McLemore of the Big D Jamboree, with the assistance of the local police department, and press agent J.F. Dolan told Billboard magazine that they had five full houses of 2,400 people.

From Beaumont Bob Neal wires the Colonel that he has been unsuccessful so far in his efforts to convince Elvis of the wisdom of leaving Sun, and he feels the Colonel should speak to him.

In Beaumont, Bob Neal wires the Colonel again to inform him that Elvis continues to be ambivalent on the matter of leaving Sun. Neal thinks it would be best to wait until he is home before pursuing the matter any further. On the same day the Colonel informs Steve Sholes at RCA of his new business arrangement with Neal and Presley, and invites Sholes to make a bid to acquire the singer.

BEAUMONT, TEXAS - This conservative oil town near the Golf of Mexico and the Louisiana state line is the hometown of albino guitarist Johnny Winter, of whom blues discographer Charles Shaar Murray has said, "He may not be the best white guitar player in the world, but he sure as hell is the whitest". The Big Bopper, born J.P. Richardson in Sabine Pass on October 29, 1932, is buried at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park at 4955 Pine Street, he died in the same low plane crash that killed Buddy Holly.


Elvis Presley probably performed in Vernon, Texas. This show was either cancelled - as were several around this date - or the original article that mentioned the show meant to say Mont Vernon. In either case, there is no information that Elvis Presley ever played either Vernon or Mont Vernon on his many trips to Texas.


Elvis Presley's show in Big Spring, Texas was cancelled when Elvis was booked into Oklahoma City. It was not immediately rescheduled. The young crowd demanded encores of "That's All Right" and "Baby Let's Play House".

This appearance with Leon Payne was also an important one of Elvis' because of Payne's songwriting skills. After having recorded Payne's "I Love You Because", Elvis Presley was eager to talk with the singer.

For a short time, Payne had toured with Bob Wills, and Elvis Presley hoped to learn as much as he could about Payne's experiences with Wills and the Texas Playboys.

Elvis Presley travelled to Lawton, Oklahoma, for an 8:00 p.m. performance at the McMahon Memorial Auditorium and The Southern Club. Also on the bill were Leon Payne, Joe Carson, Cecil Lee (a disc jockey on KSWO radio), Chuck Lee, and Bobby Joe Steward. Emcee for the evening was Alfred Lee Whittle. Attending the show was fourteen-year Hank Wilson, an aspiring musician who would eventually play on tours behind Jerry Lee Lewis and Ronnie Hawkins and later change his name to Leon Russell.

Following their Auditorium concert, Elvis Presley and all the others performed 11:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. at the Southern Club in Lawton, Texas. The house band at the club was the Southernaires. Elvis arrives in his parents 1955 Crown Victoria, Bill Black's bass strapped to the roof.

Clyde Prestage, Lawton disc jockey at KSWO remembers, ''At that time, I owned and operated the Southern Club. I was bringing in a blind singer and songwriter, Leon Payne, who had the number one country song out, ''I Love You Because'', and the Dallas booking agent said I had to take a package deal which included this new kid that no one had ever heard of, Elvis Presley''. Prestage later reported to Billboard: ''I've been getting lots of requests for Elvis Presley record since he and Scotty and Bill played Lawton and Altus''.

The Southern Club was an adults-only venue, so Clyde Prestage also arranged an 8:00 p.m. show that the whole family could attend, at McMahon Memorial Auditorium. Bobby Joe Stewart a local radio and TV star, he and his western swing band the Southernaires were to play with Elvis that night like they had played with so many other acts before. Bobby made a point of having his picture taken with stars like Patsy Cline. But when he saw the twenty-year-old Presley arrive in a Ford with no skipped, firmly believing that Elvis was going nowhere. Bobby had quite a name, being seen as second only to Tommy Duncan as the best singer in western swing. The show that evening were so-so at the box office.

JUNE 24, 1955 FRIDAY

Remaining in Oklahoma, Elvis Presley and the same group from Lawton appeared in Altus, Oklahoma. The Jaycees sponsored the event at the City Auditorium and the wives did the refreshments. There were 9 x 16 posters placed around Altus business windows, there is no advertisement for this show in the Altus Times-Democrat, which did not permit advertising at this time for nightclubs and ran few notices of upcoming shows.

This show featured Elvis Presley and the Blue Moon Boys, as well as two local singers. Since Presley's group was on stage longer than usual, they were able to play some new songs. The audience clapped loudly when they completed a cover version of Jean Shepard's "Satisfied Mind".

According to Frank Nall, ''There were not many people at the show. The population of Altus in 1955 was between seven and eight thousand. Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black had supper before the show at the Commerce Cafeteria about half a from from the Civic Auditorium where they were playing. They were driving a black and pink Ford and told me they were driving it because their Cadillac had burned. I stayed on the back of the stage during the whole show. Elvis told me he lost his billfold at the cafeteria, probably in the phone booth and said he called his mother every day''.

''That night, Elvis was wearing a khaki and green coat with the collar turned up. I went to dinner with them after the show, and we had a hamburger, and Elvis told me he was concerned about the draft, just as I was. He seemed to me to be just a plain good ole country boy. He said they were headed to Little Rock or Fort Smith, Arkansas, and asked me if I would like to have a job driving them and working for them. They said they were so give out after their shows and then having to drive to the next one, day after day. I told Elvis I already had a job, but thanks, and they went on their way''.

Jody Tidwell said, ''Bill, Jody's friend, and I both were at that concert in Altus in June 1955 but not together. Bill was with a bunch of his outlaw friends. I think there was a little jealousy there because they bought eggs and threw them at Elvis' Crown Victoria Ford. I went with some of my friends. We met Elvis in the alley behind the auditorium, and of course he kissed us, and we thought we had died and gone to heaven''.

According Banister, ''I went a little early to get a good seat. While I was standing around in the lobby, I saw this guy with three young ladies all over him. He was a nice looking guy with his collar turned up in the back and his hair hanging down over it. I asked someone: 'Who's the long haired guy'? They informed me that he was Elvis Presley, the man that's going to do the show''.

''There wasn't but a small crowd. When Elvis came on stage, the girls went wild. He expressed disappointment that we had such a small crowd, but he assured us that the show was going on. He told us, 'The more noise you make and the louder you are, the more and longer I'm going to play'. After the show, he sat down in a chair and talked to mostly girls because that is about all that could get up to him. I know there was one girl who was wearing a pair of shorts, and she wanted Elvis to sign her leg with her lipstick''.

Lynn Leverett says, ''We went backstage to visit with Elvis. He was sitting on a metal folding chair. He shook our hands, was very friendly, and just seemed like one of the boys. I recall he was disappointed in the size of the crowd. He criticized the promoter as not doing his job very well. He mentioned he would give it another six months, and if he didn't make it by then, I will just have to go back to work''.


Elvis Presley returned to the "Louisiana Hayride" for his regular headline spot. He was booked into Reba's Rock House at Pass Road and Debuys.

There, Marion Carpenter, professor of music at Biloxi High School for thirty years, and a music buff, had caught Elvis Presley's performance, liked what he heard, talked with Elvis, who said he was getting thirty-five dollars a night there.

Marion Carpenter, who knew a few club owners around the Coast, asked Jake Mladinich, whose family owned the Fiesta, one of Biloxi's better-known haunts at the time, if he would go over to Reba's and listen to this young man and maybe give him a break and book him into the Fiesta. Mladinich went and listened. He booked Elvis Presley into the Fiesta for one night - for seventy-five dollars.

Elvis Presley's new record seemed to be picking up a lot of airplay, with ''Baby Let's Play House'' getting more and more spins. It was now at number 10 in Houston, number 8 in New Orleans, and number 6 in Richmond, while ''I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone'' was at number 4 back in Memphis.

The opportunity to constantly expand the territory obviously came from the people Bob Neal and Elvis met along the way. In Biloxi, booking agent Yankie Barhanovich knew of Elvis, as he had already met him both in New Orleans and in Meridian, in each case with his Daughter Ann Raye performing on the same bill. Barhonovich hired Elvis for $200 per night. In Mobile, it was club owner and rockabilly artist Curtis Gordon who had invited Elvis down for two nights. Curtis and Elvis had met on the May tour with Hank Snow, and Curtis had brought Elvis down to see his club when they played Mobile.

''Baby Let's Play House'' was by now the A-side of the new record, and managed to get on the charts in St. Louis, without Elvis even playing there. In New Orleans, it rose to number 4 on Billboard's Country and Western Regional Charts, and it seemed that Elvis would have his biggest hit yet, putting further pressure on Colonel Parker to secure a contract.

Following his June 17 meeting with Bob Neal, the Colonel swung into action, informing his network about the new situation. In a June 28 letter, he writes to promoter and TNT record company owner Bob Tanner in San Antonio; ''We are also handling all personals as of July 24 for Elvis Presley thru this office for Bob Neal and Presley. We have Elvis on tour in Florida starting July 24 and he will work through August 6. I will be off to Florida this week to line up my tour''.

Irrespective of the fact that Elvis had just played for $175 per day on the Hank Snow tour, the Colonel now promoted Elvis with a $500 price tag and an insistence on top billing, aiming to put together a two-week tour for September.

Moving full speed ahead, the Colonel expresses his doubts to Tom Diskin, stating that he is unsure of whether Bob Neal is double-dealing, and complains about what he sees as Neal ''milking Elvis in Texas''.

JUNE 26, 1955 SUNDAY

At 8:00 p.m. Elvis Presley and the band appeared at the Slavonian Lodge in Biloxi, Mississippi, as part of the dedication ceremonies for the new air conditioner in the Lodge's Auditorium, making it the newest air-conditioned Auditorium along the Gulf Coast.

Following the dedication at 9:00 p.m. Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black performed for a dance at the Auditorium until 1:00 a.m.

Although not listed in press how publicity, locals recall that Marty Robbins and Sonny James was part of the Auditorium show. This would fit the shows before and after the Biloxi date. A Mississippi town with a resort atmosphere, Biloxi was filled with pretty girls and hard-drinking vacationers.

While performing in Biloxi, Elvis Presley met a local girl, June Juanico. She was typical of Elvis' women; a dark-haired beauty with lithe features and a quiet, understated personality. The auburn-haired, blue-eyed receptionist followed Elvis Presley around Biloxi like a puppy dog. They dated for a year. It was the perfect relationship for Elvis Presley, because June Juanico was Southern, beautiful, submissive, and enthraled with show business.

"It was the start of something big, right here on the Coast", says Salvadore Taranto. Taranto said Elvis Presley arrived on the Coast, his skin white as a bed sheet, "with pimples all over his face". "He was a good person, a little bit cocky, but then, everybody's a little bit cocky when they're twenty. He had a couple of records out and he must have thought he was a famous as Fats Domino or Bill Haley or somebody. Hell, I don't known".

Those who didn't catch Elvis' appearance at the Slavonian Lodge were being told as early as the next day what they missed, and as early as two weeks later, they were drowning in their sorrows as Elvis' reputation began mushrooming.

"It was so different from any type of music, that you couldn't even relate to it at the time", said Taranto, who played in Johnny Ellmer's Rockets, the band that Elvis Presley filled in for that night. "We used to play the Lodge and we'd get three hundred, four hundred kids in there. On Elvis' first show, they had about fifty to seventh-five. It was just real different rockabilly. Here was everybody making fun of this guy shaking like he had something wrong with him. But what he did, he did good. When he popped that first hit, he really took off! I think he started here, not Nashville, not Memphis, not Las Vegas. I think this is where he started.

According to Frank Yankie Barhanovich, ''My brother's members at the Slavonian Lodge were all making fun of me for bringing in this hillbilly''.

G.B. Whitehurst says, ''Elvis along with Scotty Moore and Bill Black appeared at the enlisted airmen's club on the Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, for a one night show. It was in early 1955, I was a young airman and had been a fan since his first Sun record. Especially since he was about my age and grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, and I was from McNairy County, Tennessee, and graduated from high school in Corinth, Mississippi. I knew back then that he was going to be great. The Airmen's Club was small, with a small stage, there were not many airmen there, maybe 30 or 40, there were no girls, so there was not much sreaming or applause. Elvis went backstage at the intermission and did not come out except to return to the stage, however his bass player came out and sat with me at my table since I was alone and near the stage. He talked with me and said he was from Adamsville, Tennessee, in McNairy County. He shared my quart of beer with paper cups; he stated that Elvis did not drink. I really didn't either, but I had a quart of beer that night. I recall that Elvis broke a string on his guitar, I believe it was intentional''.

And Yankie Barhanovich says, ''They booed him at Keesler several times when we did the shows out there. The very first time, this sergeant in charge of the Airmen's Club, Otto Zoehler, told me that this man would never make it. He was playing three shows at the time, 45 minutes on and 15 off. He only knew seven songs at the time, and he asked me if I'd get Ann, Yankie's daughter, to give him a hand''.

Frank ''Yankie'' Barhanovich, an insurance agent who had gotten into the talent booking business partly because his young daughter was a rising star, was booking the Slavonian Lodge. He had met Elvis Presley and wanted to try him out". "He asked us if we would mind if he brought Elvis in for one night", said Taranto. "We didn't mind. It was a Sunday night and we wanted a night off. I had heard Elvis on the jukebox before the Slavonian gig, so I dropped by the Lodge to see him''.

''Our group included four horns and we played dance music and the blues. When he first started playing that night, I felt his music was not really hot. I bet he didn't sing twelve tunes that night at the Lodge''.

''They asked him to sing "Rock Around The Clock" and he didn't even know all the words. There was no bottom to his band, no bottom at all. It was all twangy. He was a nice looking kid and the girls were really going for him. He didn't sing all that well, but he was a terrific entertainer".

Taranto would later that summer get to know Elvis Presley better when Elvis began dating June Juanico. "We would hang out together here and there", he said. "While he was over at Gulf Hills (Dude Ranch) he would do crazy things like shooting up match sticks with a BB gun. He had old records in the trunk of his car and he'd take them out, put them on a fence, and shoot them up, too. It's crazy what happened. One time he can't draw a hundred people; the next thing you know you couldn't put him in Carnegie Hall. You're talking about a famous man, more famous than anyone else in the whole world. And I don't care where they said it started, it started right here for that boy. This, I really believe, was the turning point for Elvis Presley".

It is an unchallenged fact all around Biloxi, even today, that there was no one closer to Elvis Presley during this summer of 1955 than those whom we will identify here only as the Cherry Girls. They spoke only on the basis we would not use their names. Today they are respectable business women and they think if someone ever heard of their giggly, teenaged past, well..

"We were there that first night at the Slavonian Lodge", said Cherry Girl number one, who sort of served as unofficial spokeswomen for the group. "We had to be there. Yankie was doing those dances for the teens and we had to support him. There was a large Slavic community down here. We, the girls, were mostly children of immigrants. That first night Elvis Presley appeared down here, well, he was good looking, but I was not impressed with his pelvis. I had been raised with values. But, we were teens and he was a teen, so we liked him. Still, we were teenaged girls, hanging out together. We went to places together and we left those places together. Biloxi at that time was a laid back little town, a resort town on the Gulf. Elvis considered this a special town because people could accept him, especially the girls".

"The night he played at the Community Center Lodge, six or eight of us went backstage to see him. My sister was wearing a strapless dress. Elvis saw her in the back of the crowd and told the people, 'Let those girls through'. My sister had dark hair and he seemed to like darkhaired girls", she said.

JUNE JUANICO - Auburn-haired, blue-eyed receptionist from Biloxi, Mississippi, whom Elvis Presley dated in 1955-1956. Juanico first met Elvis Presley backstage after a concert in Biloxi on June 25, 1955. They went swimming, water skiing, and horseback riding together.

In July 1956 Elvis Presley appeared on a couple of New Orleans radio stations to squelch rumours that he and Miss Juanico were engaged to be married. June Juanico would later marry Salvadore Taranto's cousin. She is said to have been the only girl Elvis's mother ever approved of. However, Elvis didn't let this romance get too intimate.

In a 1997 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, June said she 'blames his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, for encouraging Presley to go out with beautiful women for the publicity'. According to Elvis biographer Peter Guralnick, Juanico didn't doubt that Elvis loved her.

- Interview with June Juanico by Alanna Nash

June Juanico: Elvis was the love of my life. I met him in the summer of '55, when he was just a regional star. I was 17 and he was 20. He had been in my hometown of Biloxi, Mississippi, several times before, and people said, 'You need to see him', and I went on this one night. I thought he was the most gorgeous thing: big, dreamy eyes. Girls were screaming over him, and I'm just not that kind. I was passing by him, not even looking at him, and he reached through the crowd and grabbed my arm. He said, 'Where are you going?'

What I remember most about that night was sitting in his car outside my house, just talking, while my mother kept an eye out to see what I was doing. The first thing I said was, 'What is your real name?' I had never heard of a name like Elvis. And he said, 'What do you mean my real name? My name is Elvis Aaron Presley'. We sat there until the sun came up at 6 a.m. He was shocked because my parents were divorced. He thought marriage was a lifelong thing, and when he got married, it was going to be forever. And he told me all about his twin who was dead at birth. I'd never met anybody quite like him.

We got so wrapped up in kissing on our very first date -- nothing too sloppy, it was just marvelous -- a little pecking here and there, a nibble here and there, then a serious bite. 'He was a magnificent kisser'. 'He said, 'Who taught you how to kiss?' And I said, 'You know, I was just getting ready to ask you the same thing'. But I didn't hear from him for a while after that. It turned out he was calling and my older brother wasn't bothering to tell me. Finally, he said, 'Some guy with a hillbilly accent called'.

For the one and a half years I dated him, our relationship remained chaste. He was just very tender and considerate. We spent so much time together, and we started talking about marriage. Mrs. Presley liked me. She saw me as domestic and wise for my young years. She was always telling me that Elvis needed someone to take care of him.

But Elvis was becoming more famous, and [manager] Colonel Tom Parker wanted him linked with actresses and Vegas showgirls. Of course, Elvis liked legs that went on for days, and he brought one of those showgirls home for Christmas in '56. That did it for me. I decided to marry someone else. And Elvis said the Colonel said we couldn't get married, that he wouldn't dare do that to the Colonel.

The next time I saw him was in a movie theater in Memphis in the early '60s. I went down the row behind him and tapped him on the back, and he turned around and our eyes just locked. He got up and put me in a death grip. One of his guys ran over because he thought someone was abusing Elvis. But Elvis was holding on to me. Priscilla was sitting next to him, and she was very gracious. She kept her eyes glued to the screen.

In August 1977, my mother was at my house. I had laid down for a nap, and when I came out of my bedroom my mother was looking at me really strange. Finally, she said, 'June!' She had tears in her eyes. She said, 'I just heard on the television that Elvis Presley has died'. I looked at her and said, 'That can't be! That can't be!' I went over to the television and fell to my knees in front of it. I couldn't breathe. I honestly think if my mother had not been with me, I might have died. In my heart, I always thought Elvis and I would be together somewhere down the road. I was married for 36 years, and I've got two beautiful children and beautiful grandchildren. I've been blessed in many ways. But I have just never been able to stop loving Elvis.

Probably as many personal memoirs among them as have attached to any other cultural figure or entertainer in history. Some have been spurious, a number seem to have been written out of little more than personal rancor, motivation has ranged from love to money to self-adumbration (never has one man had so many chief advisers). Virtually none have actually been put together by their narrators.

That is one of the things that makes June Juanico's book different. It is not simply that she has written a book that is filled with feeling and insight, that conveys an experience with truth and without rancor, about a real, not-mythic Elvis Presley. She has also written (and re-written) every word herself and in the process produced an account that is as touching in its unadorned honesty as it is refreshing in its feisty and unself-censored voice.

I should have known that June was a writer when we first met. It wasn't the fact that she had saved up her experience over the years, avoiding interviews for the most part and keeping her memories to herself. Nor was it the confidence with which she told her story. Lots of people can recite anecdotes with assurance and humor. No, it was the extent to which she had reflected upon her experience, fleshed out her story with three dimensional portraits, created a narrative persona removed from the nineteen year old girl at its center provided a structure which, far from distorting the experience, defined it. When she produced the manuscript that she had been working on, I really should not have been surprised.

Everyone has his or her own way of telling a story, and most of us, when recounting our own experience, paint a 'truthful' picture. It is not necessarily a complex one, though. For reasons of convenience most of our stories boil down to anecdotes, in which our own roles may be enhanced, the punch - line delivered more crisply, the world more a 'like' world (a world in which these things could have happened, these verbal ripostes could have been made) than the real one, in which motivation is often confused, people are necessarily a combination of contradictory elements, the picture is not postcard - perfect.

It's hard to scrutinize these accounts realistically - particularly if one is a participant in the story. It can be painful to look too closely at one's own past. But that is what June has done. Without for a moment sacrificing the immediacy of what can only be called a 'love story', the narrator has told a tale filled with autumnal regret, a bitter-sweet account filled with vivid detail that portrays a particular time and place (Biloxi, Mississippi, the summer of 1956) and carries with it its own charm and its own truth. It also captures a 21 year-old Elvis Presley with 'Hound Dog' just about to start climbing the charts, on the brink of movie stardom (he receives his copy of a script titled The Reno Brothers, soon to become Love Me Tender, while he and June are in Miami), enjoying a brief moment out of the spotlight just before the curtain of privacy is forever lifted. June Juanico's book carries conviction in its very simplicity but don't be misled by that simplicity. 'There's a writer there, too. And we are getting the benefit not just of her experiences but of her insights as well.


Frank "Yankie" Barhanovich booked Elvis Presley with his daughter Ann Barhanovich, into the Airman's Club at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, for the next two nights. According to the Keesler News article on June 22, Elvis Presley was expected to sing "That's All Right", "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", and "Good Rockin' Tonight" in addition to mixing up a few country tunes with some "bop" and novelty numbers.

Following the show, he met June Juanico of Biloxi. Miss Juanico, age seventeen, would date Elvis Presley a year later during his vacation trip to Biloxi and then accompany him on a tour of Florida in August 1956. Airman Johnny Cash was stationed at Keesler, where he learned communications.

"He didn't know a lot of songs", said Ann Barhanovich. "He ran out of songs to sing. He even sang a few religious tunes to keep people listening. He even called me out to do a couple of songs to help him out. But the girls went wild. I don't think he had anticipated his growth would come as rapidly as it did", she said. Soon after beginning her singing career as Ann Raye, she appeared on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville at age fourteen. She would later perform with Hank Snow, Faron Young and Little Jimmy Dickens. Her career hit the brakes, however, when she got married at eighteen. Just as she got married, she was invited to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York, but she decided to wanted to be a wife and mother, so she didn't accept.

"The first time at Keesler, this sergeant in charge of the Airman's Club, Otto Zoller, told me this man (Elvis) would never make it. Elvis was playing three shows a night there - forty-five minutes on, fifteen off. He only knew seven songs and he asked me if I'd get Ann to give him a hand".

Otto Zoller told Barhanovich he was not satisfied with Elvis' shows, "and I asked him, 'How in the world can you not be satisfied with this man's work when you can't put another person in the building?' He wanted Elvis to sing more songs, so I went up to Elvis and told him. And Elvis said, 'Yankie, I only know seven songs'".

"So I told him to sing anything. You know, like they mix up jambalaya. Mix it up. He was trying to play the piano. He couldn't. Ann told him, 'You can't even play the guitar, much less the piano'. He packed them in, though. They were climbing through the windows.

Elvis Presley became the talk of Biloxi after those two nights". "I told Bob Neal, his manager, I would like to book him for another week, but the price went up from a hundred and fifty a night to three hundred dollars per night", said Barhanovich. "We booked him for a second week. Later, I tried to book him again and Neal wrote me back and said he's fifteen hundred dollars a night now. I replied, 'Let me know when he gets back to three hundred a night and I'll take a week'". That never happened.

When Elvis Presley walked out on the stage at Jesuit High School, Martha Ann Barhanovich knew her prayers had been answered. "I liked to have died", she said. "He was dressed in a pink jacket with fringe on the arms and black pants that had a pink stripe down them, and gosh, he very good looking! But when he first came out on stage, I was shocked. I thought I would be singing with someone much older because that's the way he sounded on the radio". She said the moment she heard him open his mouth on stage, she knew instantly that pop music was never again going to be the same. "I knew he was going to make it", she said.

After his gig at Keesler, the Cherry Girls followed Elvis Presley to the Hambone's Cafe. Elvis didn't drink anything stringer than 7-Up at Hambone's, a place where stronger liquids were consumed in generous portions by most of the male customers.

"He danced with my sister at Hambone's", said one of the Cherry Girl. "I liked Elvis' singing, but for some reason I was just not all that impressed with him". Impressed or not, the Cherry Girls followed Elvis Presley to practically all of his stops between Pensacola, Florida, and Shreveport, Louisiana.

He once invited us to come see him at the "Louisiana Hayride", the Cherry Girl continued. "We had to take a chaperon along or our parents would never have allowed this. We were just out of high school at the time".

An other local newspaper publiced an article that read: RECORDING STAR ELVIS PRESLEY AT AIRMEN'S CLUB. One of the stars of the popular Louisiana Hayride radio show, Elvis Presley, will be a headliner on a musical comedy stage show set for the 27th and 28th of this month at the Airmen's Club.

Backing up the young radio and recording star will be Elvis' side kicks, Scotty Moore and Bill Black who are also members of the Louisiana Hayride cast. Presley, a good-looking youngster whose promising career started after a recording manager overhead him making a personal recording, has become a jukebox favorite with his "That's All Right, Mama" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky". Presley is expected to repeat some of his hit tunes at the Airmen's Club show in addition to mixing up a few country tunes with some 'bop' and novelty number.

"I didn't go to the Slavonian Lodge that first night", June Juanico recalls. "All the girls in Biloxi, I think, had gone there and the next day they were all screaming and yelling about what they had seen. Elvis was appearing the next night at Keesler. I had a girlfriend who wanted to go, but she had no one to go out there with her, so I went. I had not been keeping up with Elvis at that time. At one point during the evening, Elvis took a break. He was standing under a sign pointing to the ladies' room''.

''Linda, my girl friend, told me, 'Let's go over there and talk to him'. And I said, 'You can go talk to him if you want'. I just wasn't a pushy kind of person". "Well, if you want to, go ahead", June told Linda. "I'm not. I'm not a autograph hound. Elvis was taller than most of the girls", said Juanico. "He looked out over them and saw me. He reached over some of them and grabbed me by the arm. So, actually, he met me, I didn't meet him".

FRANK ''YANKIE'' BARHANOVICH - An insurance agent from Biloxi, Mississippi, who had gotten into the talent booking business partly because his young daughter was a rising star, was booking the Slavonian Lodge. He had met Elvis Presley and wanted to try him out".

"He asked us if we would mind if he brought Elvis in for one night", said Taranto. "We didn't mind. It was a Sunday night and we wanted a night off. I had heard Elvis on the jukebox before the Slavonian gig, so I dropped by the Lodge to see him. Our group included four horns and we played dance music and the blues. When he first started playing that night, I felt his music was not really hot. I bet he didn't sing twelve tunes that night at the Lodge.

They asked him to sing "Rock Around The Clock" and he didn't even know all the words. There was no bottom to his band, no bottom at all. It was all twangy. He was a nice looking kid and the girls were really going for him. He didn't sing all that well, but he was a terrific entertainer".

Taranto would later that summer get to know Elvis Presley better when Elvis began dating June Juanico. "We would hang out together here and there", he said. "While he was over at Gulf Hills (Dude Ranch) he would do crazy things like shooting up match sticks with a BB gun. He had old records in the trunk of his car and he'd take them out, put them on a fence, and shoot them up, too. It's crazy what happened. One time he can't draw a hundred people; the next thing you know you couldn't put him in Carnegie Hall. You're talking about a famous man, more famous than anyone else in the whole world. And I don't care where they said it started, it started right here for that boy. This, I really believe, was the turning point for Elvis Presley".

It is an unchallenged fact all around Biloxi, even today, that there was no one closer to Elvis Presley during this summer of 1955 than those whom we will identify here only as the Cherry Girls. They spoke only on the basis we would not use their names. Today they are respectable business women and they think if someone ever heard of their giggly, teenaged past, well..

"We were there that first night at the Slavonian Lodge", said Cherry Girl number one, who sort of served as unofficial spokeswomen for the group. "We had to be there. Yankie was doing those dances for the teens and we had to support him. There was a large Slavic community down here. We, the girls, were mostly children of immigrants. That first night Elvis Presley appeared down here, well, he was good looking, but I was not impressed with his pelvis. I had been raised with values. But, we were teens and he was a teen, so we liked him. Still, we were teenaged girls, hanging out together. We went to places together and we left those places together. Biloxi at that time was a laid back little town, a resort town on the Gulf. Elvis considered this a special town because people could accept him, especially the girls".

"The night he played at the Community Center Lodge, six or eight of us went backstage to see him. My sister was wearing a strapless dress. Elvis saw her in the back of the crowd and told the people, 'Let those girls through'. My sister had dark hair and he seemed to like darkhaired girls", she said.


After the Keesler performances, Frank Bahanovich booked Elvis Presley into the Hambone Club in Gulfport, only a stone's throw west of the air base.

"I told him if he would go down there, Dan Seal would play the first forty-five minutes to lighten his load", Bahanovich said. "This came about because Elvis was noting he only knew those seven songs and he needed someone to fill in for him.

We got to be close friends. I kept track of him. Ann, my daughter, played shows with him in Pensacola, Mobile, New Orleans, Biloxi, Lafayette, Houston and Lake Charles.

At the show in Mobile, they fenced him in Ladd Stadium for protection. I was the first one to bring him over. He would come between shows. He loved Biloxi. If he were booked in this area, he would come into town ahead of time. He spent a lot of time here. He was in love with June Juanico".


At 8:30 p.m. each evening Elvis Presley, along with Marty Robbins, Sonny James, and Curtis Gordon played the Curtis Gordon Radio Ranch Club in Mobile, Alabama. This club, owned by Curtis Gordon, a local country music artist, featured Gordon's Radio Ranch Boys, who unfortunately had to leave the stage early because the crowd demanded Elvis Presley.

The first national magazine article on Elvis appeared in the June issue of Cowboy Songs magazine. Entitled "Sun's Newest Star", the article was comprised of equal parts pure fiction and publicity hype. Though brief and impressionistic, this glimpse into Elvis Presley's career helped the concert gates. Although the money increased for Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black in some concert venues, they continued to play for small guarantees if they had time. On most weekends, however, Elvis Presley and the Blue Moon Boys generated $300 to $500 a night, with weekday concerts bringing in $50 to $200. For the first time in his life, Elvis Presley had plenty of spending money, and he bought clothes and records in abundance.

The clamour for Elvis Presley was helped by his record "Baby Let's Play House", which was also on the country and western charts in Houston, New Orleans, Richmond, and St. Louis. Another Presley song, "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone" was number 4 on the local Memphis Country and Western charts.

Veree Thomas recalls with vividness her 19th birthday party on June 30, 1955, ''Elvis was playing at the Radio Ranch, a nightclub on Old Cedar Point Road, the night I was having my birthday party. He joined in the party like he was acquainted with everybody in the party. He had on a pink shirt, pink pants, and a black stripe down the side of the pants. At my birthday party, he took turns at kissing the girls, and there were plenty waiting for a smooth from him. He was impressive that night''.

Mary Harbour, one of Veree's two sisters, has a special memory, ''Couples were dancing on the dance floor, and it was crowded. Elvis asked me to dance with him, and then suddenly everyone on the dance floor cleared the entire area for us. They just stood and watched as we danced. To say the least, it was so thrilling I felt my knees were knocking together''.


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