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.
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.
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.
"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...
UNKNOWN DATE MID 1955
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.
JUNE 1, 1955 WEDNESDAY
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.
JUNE 2, 1955 THURSDAY
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.