ELVIS SUN 1955 (8)
August 1, 1955 to August 31, 1955

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Live Broadcast Recordings for Elvis Presley, August 20, 1955
Interview for Elvis Presley, August 31, 1955

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Elvis Presley's Sun recordings can be heard on the playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <



Sun Records released "Mystery Train"/"I Forgot To Remember To Forget" (SUN 223) by Elvis Presley, his fifth Sun release, along with an indiscriminate trio of hillbilly and rhythm and blues records and ''Gone, Gone, Gone'', Carl Perkins official Sun debut.

Webb Pierce headlined the jamboree when Elvis Presley returned to play his hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi, for the first time since he began his recording career. The performance was held at the same Mississippi-Alabama Fairgrounds where Elvis Presley sung "Old Shep" when he was ten.

Also on the bill for this 8:00 p.m. show were Red Sovine, Wanda Jackson, Bud Deckelman, Charlie Feathers, the Miller Sisters, Gene Simmons, Bob Ritter, the Dixie Playboys and Bill Perkins. Bob Neal was the show's emcee and promoter. This short tour also included Sun artist Charlie Feathers and his band from Memphis, featuring Stanley Kesler on steel guitar and Marcus Van Story on bass.

Tickets for the hometown folks were $1.00 for adults and 50- cents for children. Reserved seating cost a quarter more. Attendance was estimated at 3,000. According to Barbara Mallory's scrapbook sang Elvis, ''I Got A Woman'', ''I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone'', ''You're A Heartbreaker'', ''Baby Let's Play House'', ''Shake, Rattle And Roll'', and ''Good Rockin' Tonight''. Elvis didn't sing his two new songs, ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget'' and ''Mystery Train'', responding to audience requests by confessing, ''I don't the words''. Elvis wore a pink linen coat and black pants.

Robert Montgomery says, ''It was a variety show but the only other person I remember is Wanda Jackson. Elvis, of course, was the headliner (Webb Pierce was headliner). There was an intermission and a couple of friends of mine and I walked down close to the stage and met Elvis. I had a second grade picture of him given to me by Mrs, Clara Griffin, who used to live next door to the Presleys in East Tupelo. I asked if he would autograph it for me. He looked at it and said, 'Boy, I was a puny little thing, wasn't I'? In the photo he had blond hair and had on striped overalls. He autographed it, 'That's Allright, Elvis''. We stood around and talked to him for a little while before the show resumed''.

"He was always late on stage, it seemed", said Bobby Ritter, a disc jockey for WTUP in Tupelo. "I booked Elvis for those shows in Houlka, my hometown, and in Grenada, Houston, Tupelo, Amory, Bruce, Big Creek, Randolph and Toccopola, Mississippi. On those nights when he would arrive late, Bob Neal and I would go on stage. Bob would be the comedian and I the straight man and we tried to keep the folks entertained until Elvis got there, but they didn't want to hear us".

Elvis Presley brought the crowd of twelve thousand to its collective feet that night in the Tupelo Fairgrounds and they were still buzzing when Webb Pierce was singing, disturbing the country star so much that after his performance, he stalked off stage and said he would never, ever!, follow Elvis Presley on stage again - and he didn't!

Hours before the show, Bobby Ritter says, ''Webb Pierce was the headliner, but never again. It rained about 6, and the show was scheduled to start about 8, I believe, and we didn't open the box office until about 7. Bob Neal was alone in the box office, and he called me before he opened and said, 'There's too many people out here, we need to open both offices'. He gave me a trash can and said, 'Throw the money in there and we will count it later'. It was about 2 or 3 o'clock before we were through counting all that money. They were lined up as far as you could see, and the parking lot was full of cars, and as far as you see down the streets to both sides. There were busses, and that was August 1, 1955. They sold out the concession stand three times, they sold everything in Tupelo. It was at that grandstand, there were no seats. Webb got here about 1 o'clock that afternoon, got a room at the Hotel Tupelo, and immediately started drinking. It was a bad mistake, because at the time when he went on stage, he couldn't perform very well, and Elvis went on before him, and he was the last to go on stage and there was probably only about a hundred people left. Webb Pierce was the biggest country act at that time. There was a pair of girls, Doreen and Lorene Greaves, from Houston. It rained about 6 o'clock, I mean, it rained! You know how it rains here sometimes. They had just dug some holes for telephone poles. And when the people started coming in, there were so many people, there was nowhere for them to go. And these two girls went across there, and one of them fell in one of those holes, full of water. She was up to her neck and nobody would help her out''.


Elvis Presley travelled to the tri-cities area of Alabama collectively known as Muscle Shoals. Webb Pierce again headlined as the group played a pair of appearances at the Sheffield Community Center in Sheffield at 7:00 and 9:30 p.m. The bill was basically the same as the Tupelo show with the addition of newcomer Johnny Cash.

Local disc jockey Tommy Van Sandt did the honors when it came to announcing Elvis Presley. Both performances were "Standing Room Only" as a total of 2,8000 fans attended. Advance tickets were only 41.00.

If there were any tickets remaining at the show time, they were $1.25. The trio cities show was sponsored by the Muscle Shoals Jaycees. The next day's review in the Tri-Cities Daily called the show "a marvel", adding, "when Presley appeared at the climax of the show, pandemonium broke loose". Mid-way through his performance, he knocked the crowd off its collective feet with a rip-roaring version of "Maybellene".

The night was an interesting one because a number of local bands wanted to play with the touring groups. The Sheffield Community Center was brimming with a musical enthusiasm and a blend of raucous sounds that would soon give way to rock and roll music. The Sheffield concert, where twenty-eight hundred people waited for him to come on stage, would highlights Elvis' drawing power. In a series of concerts that also included Little Rock and Camden, Arkansas, and Tupelo, Mississippi, Elvis Presley drew more than fifteen thousand customers.

The Sheffield concert was held in an area that included the towns of Florence, Tuscumbia, and Muscle Shoals. Later, in the sixties, the Muscle Shoals recording studio would blossom in the area, as would the Florence Alabama Music Enterprises - the FAME studio. At the time Elvis Presley visited the Muscle Shoals area in 1955, Dan Pen, Rick Hall, Billy Sherrill, Spooner Oldham, and Buddy Killen were lust local boys coming of age or working quietly in the music industry.

Like many locals, they went to see Elvis' Sheffield show, which was a longer one than usual. This was due to the fact that Sheffield had a population of 100,000 people with a reputation for hard-drinking, music-loving, country necks. W.C. Handy and Sam Phillips were from Florence, and the area teemed with musicians. There is no doubt that Elvis Presley picked up a good deal of his Southern soul sound at concerts in places like Sheffield.

According to Wade Patterson from Town Creek, ''It was mid-July, and me and my old brother and two cousins were shelling peas in the backyard. We lived on a farm. We pulled the car up so we could listen to the radio, but we were not paying too much attention to it, until here comes this guy singing ''That's All Right''. We briefly stopped shelling peas. We were stunned. It was Elvis Presley. Later on, we found out that he was performing with other entertainers, including Johnny Cash and Webb Pierce, who were supposed to be the main attraction. Now, mind you Webb Pierce was coming of 18 straight number 1 hits. They were coming to the Sheffield Community Center. We had to go see this guy Presley. We arrived early and parked behind the center. The first thing we noticed was Webb Pierce's black four-door Cadillac. The show started, and I don't recall who came on first. We were close to the stage, and he was wearing black pants and a pink sport coat. Now here's something that happened to him that I have not seen written about him on his trips to the community center. When he made his first stroke with his picking hand, a string broke as it curled up at the neck. He looked stunned for just a moment, and then he started playing without it. We could not tell the difference. He replaced it at intermission. Oh, and by the way, 'Webb Pierce left at intermission due to the cool reception he was getting''.

Elvis Presley visited with disc jockey Tommy Van Sandt in the afternoon, and with Scotty and Bill he performed ''Maybellene'' live on the radio as promotion for the show that night.


The same group, minus Johnny Cash, but with local favorite Sammy Barnhart as an added attraction, continued with a show in Little Rock, Arkansas, that drew an estimated crowd of 3,000 country fans. The 8:00 p.m. appearance at AR-Robinson Auditorium cost $1.00 for adults and half-price for children.

According to Ernest Hackworth also known as disc jockey Uncle Dudley says, ''Once in Little Rock they held Elvis until last, and when they introduced Elvis he didn't come on stage. They introduced him again and he still didn't come on. They found him sitting backstage with his mother, talking to her. His parents had come to see him perform''.

Gladys and Vernon Presley were remembered to have been on hand for this show. They drove to Little Rock specifically to meet again with Colonel Tom Parker at Elvis' insistence. As an extra incentive, the Colonel brought along Whitey Ford, the Duke of Paducah, who happened to be the Colonel's neighbour in Madison, Tennessee. As mentioned earlier, the Duke was a favorite of Gladys. After all this attention the Presley's still did not sign a contract with Colonel Parker that would have allowed him to become Elvis' "special advisor".

On stage, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and D.J. Fontana quickly set up, but where was Elvis Presley?. "Elvis! Elvis! Elvis!!! Where are you?". A quick search found him seated backstage, his mother, Gladys, sitting in his lap. Told he was late on stage, he politely put Mama Presley on her feet and hit the stage running. It was that night Elvis Presley introduced his parents to Tom Parker.

An unidentified witness says, ''I will never forget, he wore a purple outfit. We went backstage to visit, and I talked with him. He was a unique person. His skin was very hit with acne, it was healed up, but hit! I asked him what he was going to do next, and he mumbled that Chuck Berry had out a song called ''Maybellene''.


The attendance totalled 2,000 for two Webb Pierce and Elvis Presley shows in Camden, Arkansas. The group appeared at 7:00 and 9:30 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium, and tickets were only $1.00 in advance. Wanda Jackson and Charlie Feathers were part of the opening acts.

"Me and Tommy Ratliff and a disc jockey named Charlie Horse sponsored the August shows", said Cliff Davis. "Elvis used to drop by the radio station and hang around a lot on his way to and from his Louisiana Hayride performances. Sometimes he'd hang around until five in the morning".

"To promote our shows, we had one of those speakers on the top of our car, with a microphone inside, and we drove all around Camden and even as far away as Monroe, Louisiana, promoting the show, talking about it, playing' Elvis' music, trying to get people to come".

"When Elvis arrived that night, he was wearing a pretty belt buckle and a pink baseball cap. I told him, 'I'd sure like to have that belt buckle'. And he told me, 'I can't give it to you. If I did, my pants would fall off'. So he took off that pink baseball cap and gave it to me. He was eating a hot dog at the time and some mustard from that hot dog came off on the cap. I've got that cap in a frame now and it is still has the mustard stains on it".

Lucille Huneycut was at that August concert. She said before the concert, Elvis Presley had driven up and down the streets of Camden in his pink Cadillac, waving at the girls and inviting them to come and hear him sing that night.

"I took my kids, who were then in high school", said Lucille Huneycut. "The teens all liked to sit in the balcony. One by one, the other entertainers performed, then they brought out Elvis and he sang "Only You" and I sat there thinking to myself, 'My god! That kid, all he needs is a break!' When he began singing that song, a hush fell over the place. After the show, all the kids were trying to touch him. When he talked to me, he called me 'ma'am'".

According to Hames Ware, ''The first time I ever heard of Elvis was around 1954. My uncles took me to see Red Sovine and Webb Pierce. Elvis was the last act on the program bill behind Wanda Jackson. Of course it was just Elvis, Bill Black, and Scotty Moore, but they made more noise than anyone else. It was pure rock and roll, rockabilly, or whatever you wished to call it, but the crowd went wild''.

The Camden new report:
ELVIS PRESLEY, Young and handsome Elvis Presley will be among the top country stars coming to Camden Thursday for two shows at the Municipal Auditorium. The All-Star Jamboree of country entertainers, featuring two of the top names in the rural rhythm department, is coming to Camden for two shows at the Municipal Auditorium tomorrow night at 7 and 9:30 p.m.

Webb Pierce, consistently, voted the nation's number one star of country music, will highlight the big attraction. Pierce, who once appeared on the Louisiana Hayride and later of the Grand Ole Opry, had a great string on consecutive record hits with ''In The Jailhouse Now'' and ''I Don't Care'', his latest top hits. Pierce, and the Wondering boys are coming in from a TV appearance in New York.

Elvis Presley voted the year's number one star by Cash Box magazine will feature his Western Bop type of singing, including his new record release ''Mystery Train''.

Other stars marked for the appearance include Red Sovine, a Decca Record artist, formerly of KWKH in Shreveport, Bud Decklelan, MGM recording star, Charlie Feathers, and Miss Wanda Jackson, Oklahoma City's contribution to Folk Music. Advance sale tickets are now at South Arkansas Music Company.

The next day, the Camden News report: Jamboree Draws Record Crowd.
Over 2100 people attended the all star Western Jamboree which lasted well after Midnight Thursday evening at the municipal auditorium. This was the largest group to gather in Camden for any single event this year. The show drew people from all over Quachita county and miles around including El Dorado, Magnolia, Warren, Hope, Arkadelphia and Fordyce. Special police were assigned to direct the heavy traffic between the two performances.

The first show at 7 p.m. was a sell-out with around 1200. It took around an hour to clear the auditorium an hour to clear the auditorium and seat the second crowd.

With the second performance staying around 10 o'clock, lasting until 13:30. A number were turned away at the first performance. The show was has consistently been voted the nation's number one star of country music. His renditions of such top hits ''In The Jail House Now'' and ''I Don't Care'' drew a roaring round of applause from the audience.

17-year-old Wanda Jackson and 19-year-old Elvis Presley stole the show. Each received encore after encore. Miss Jackson of Oklahoma was the only girl on the show of around 16 top hillbilly performers. She thrilled the audience with the record hit of ''You Can't Have My Love'', long with others. Elvis who has saved until the very last of the show was at his best featuring his ''Bop'' type of western singing.

Red Sovine, an old timer in the Western music world, directed the first portion of the performance. The loud shouts and applause after each of his numbers showed he still holds his place as a popular favorite. Other stars who appeared on the show were: Charlie Feathers, Bud Deckelman, and Scotty and Bill. The Wondering Boys gave wonderful instrumentals and accompanying. Pierce and the Wondering Boys came here from a TV appearance in New York.

The group put on a short program over Radio Station KAMD Thursday afternoon at 6:45. They arrived in Camden yesterday afternoon and spent the night at the Hotel Camden. They left early today for Memphis, Tennessee.


At 8:00 p.m., Elvis Presley played his third and final gig at the Overton Park Shell in Memphis. He performed second on the bill of Bob Neal's "Eighth Anniversary Jamboree" at the open-air show. Headlined the extravaganza was Webb Pierce, which included guest appearances by newcomer Johnny Cash, Wanda Jackson, Gene Simmons, the Miller Sisters and Red Sovine.

Also appearing was the same cast from Camden, along with Carl Perkins, Sonny James, Bud Deckelman, Jim Wilson, and Bob Neal's band, the Neal Boys. Texas Bill Strength, a Memphis disc jockey, also made an unadvertised appearance.

This three-hour extravaganza appearance was reported at the time to be the largest country jamboree ever held in Memphis, pulling in an "overflow audience" of 4,000 fans despite the threat of rain.

According to the Memphis Press-Scimitar, "several hundred" music lovers had to be turned away at the box office. Advance tickets were $1.00 until 4:00 p.m. on the day of the show. When the Overton Shell box office opened at 6:30 p.m., seats were $1.25 reserved, with general admission $1.00 and children 50-cents.

Bob Neal also booked rockabilly singer Charlie Feathers. While waiting to go on stage, Elvis Presley and Charlie Feathers talked about the show. Feathers pointed out that Billboard had sent a reporter, a prospect that excited Elvis Presley because Sam Phillips was preparing to debut Presley's latest record. Bob Neal, personal manager to Elvis Presley, reports that the Louisiana Hayride youngster and his show play a series of Mid-South dates next week, opening Monday with a big outdoor jamboree at Forrest City, Arkansas.

The package played Bona, Arkansas, Tuesday, and moves to Sikeston, Missouri, Wednesday, Clarksdale, Mississippi, Thursday up in McComb, Mississippi, Friday. In addition to Presley, unit features Johnny Cash, new Sun record artist; Bud Deckelman (M-G-M), and Eddie Bond, new on Ekko Records. From McComb, Presley's men drive to Norfolk, with Elvis flying in from the Hayride to join then Sunday to start a series on the West Coast.

Johnny Cash recall, "Well, you know, there've been several kinds of booster moments, booster nights that made me just keep going, made me keep loving it more than ever. I guess the first time was soon after my first record was released''.

''I'd been on tour with Elvis Presley in Texas and on Saturday night we both went to Shreveport to be guests on "The Louisiana Hayride". "On the Hayride you would do two songs, then get off, and then somebody else would do two songs and there'd be a radio commercial - that kinda' thing''.

''Well, that night Carl Perkins was there and Elvis was there and I was there and Johnny Horton was there. Elvis - I don't remember who followed who - but Elvis, Carl and I made appearances one after the other and from the time one of us hit the stage, the audience was on their feet''.

''It was a very young audience because of the names that were on the show at that time, and they were on their feet and just climbing the walls, and it was the first time I'd ever experienced that. Of course, the audience was caught up in the high of the night, and with Elvis probably, but I shared in that and it made me very excited about the business I was in and the future. I guess I felt safe also, being in the company of Carl and Elvis, but I felt like I was really a part of it and was accepted. That was before we were putting music in bags and categories. It was music just for the music's sake. I felt like I was there to stay".

Wanda Jackson recall, "Well I don't remember that being the first one on Overton Park Shell. It was a couple of months after I graduated from school. I remember though that Elvis ' stage show was pure excitement from the very first note".

AUDIENCE PULLERS .....Overton Park Shell was jammed with an overflow audience last night for the wind-up of the eight annual Bob Neal country music jamboree series.

Several hundred who wanted to hear in person Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley and Webb Pierce and some 22 ether country music and comedy performers had to be turned away, while 4000 more lucky people enjoyed the show. The company also toured Little Rock, Arkansas, 3000 listeners; Camden, Arkansas, 2000; Sheffield, Alabama, 2800; and Tupelo, Mississippi, 300, this week. Both Cash and Presley record for Memphis' own Sun Record label.


Elvis' fifth and final single for Sun Records, "Mystery Train"/"I Forgot To Remember To Forget" (SUN 223) was released. Just prior to pressing copies, Johnny Bernero's drums had been added to the b-side to enhance the country music feel.

Bernero, discussed in an earlier interview, worked across the streets from the Sun studio at the Memphis Light Gas & Water Company, and he had sat in for Phillips' on numerous occasions. Although he was at first uncertain about adding the drums, Sam Phillips liked Bernero's light touch and went ahead with the new version.

A brief article in Billboard mentioned that Elvis Presley and the Browns had just returned from a West Coast trek and would appear in Detroit on September 2nd and 3rd. (Both pieces of information are wrong). Billboard's "Spotlight" said: "With each release Presley has been coming more and more to the forefront. His current record has wasted no time in establishing itself. Already it appears on the Memphis and Houston territorial charts. It is also reported selling well in Richmond, Atlanta, Durham, Nashville, and Dallas".

Elvis Presley performed in Batesville, Arkansas at the River Stadium. He appear at this 12th Annual White River Carnival elicits an indignant letter from local promoter Ed Lyon, who writes to Tom Parker that Elvis was guilty of unprofessional behavior, told off-color jokes, and ''stormed off stage'' after singing just four songs, thereby ''ruining'' the show. Lyon demands an ''adjustment'', and the Colonel swiftly complies with a refund of 450, writing Bob Neal a scathing letter on August 22 about the necessity of establishing professional standards. Elvis is ''young, inexperienced, and it takes a lot more than a couple of hot records in a certain territory to become a big-name artist'', the Colonel lectures Neal, whom he blames both implicitly and explicitly for this foul-up in the education of a young artist.

The Colonel used the issue to send Bob Neal s devastating letter reprimanding him: ''I just can't have anymore comedy on Elvis' part of the program''. The Colonel argued, in spite of Neal's statement that this was the first time Elvis had ever been criticized, that he had heard this all his sources, connections, friends, and customers. ''Smutty comedy is the issue'', the Colonel concluded.

In Batesville, Elvis had been infuriated when confronted with a demand to return some of his fee, but he eventually gave back half. None of the known witnesses remember anything wrong with Elvis' performance noting he sang more than four songs, and was definitely not drunk. The whole incident was miraculously convenient in Colonel Parker's attempt to discredit Bob Neal's management skills.

According to Una Smith, ''We had a water carnival here, just a little celebration on the river. After the show I went backstage, I just had to meet that guy. I made some small comment about the show, and he said, 'Honey, I'm mad as hell'. I said, 'Why'? and he said, 'Because the lady asked me for the money back. She didn't think we put on a good show'. Elvis told me he had ended up giving her half back (Mrs. Grey, she had been in charge of booking the talent for the water carnival). He put on a wonderful show. It never even occurred to me that it was suggestive. To me he was just moving with the music and having a good time. It didn't seem vulgar to me at all. He did a lot more than four songs. I remember he did ''Maybellene'' that night. We hung around for a long time. It was only Elvis, Scotty, and Bill. They walked us back up to our cars, hung around, and talked to us like guys do. My sister had a Ford. It had a kind of revolutionary design, kind of a sports car, pale yellow with a green top, and Elvis remarked, 'That's the prettiest car'. He had on a black shirt, open down the front, and white pants. He was so handsome he didn't look real. His skin was so smooth. I guess he had Creole blood, such a pretty color''.


In the afternoon, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black performed in Houston, Texas, at the Magnolia Gardens (afternoon show), 12044 Beach Street, Houston, Texas. There was actually an ad for this appearance at the time, were in the audience that day and Jim and Lois Robertson were trying out a new 8mm home movie camera with color.

They didn't really know of Elvis at the time and Lois Robertson only seemed to recall about 20 to 25 people in attendance. She filmed parts of the performance and after the color film was developed the Robertsons watched it once or twice, then put it away.

That evening, he moved over to Cook's Hoedown Club. This is the only Magnolia Gardens/Cook's Hoedown appearance mention in a local newspaper. As discussed earlier, Elvis Presley played these two Sunday gigs regularly following a Louisiana Hayride show on Saturday.

Bob Neal reacted instantly to the lack of August bookings by arranging a week with Tom Perryman in northeast Texas, following the last scheduled show at Magnolia Gardens. There were changes to the band. Elvis had wanted a regular drummer, and D.J. Fontana had played many shows with them since the previous November. Staring this week, D.J. Fontana would become a full-time member of the band. However, unlike Scotty and Bill, who each got twenty-five per cent of the income, D.J. was paid a weekly salary.


Elvis Presley began a week-long tour of the Gladewater, Texas, area with Jim Ed and Maxine Brown. During this time, Elvis Presley was interviewed on the KSIJ radio in Gladewater by disc jockey Tom Perryman, who also booked the shows this week. All performances were at 8:00 p.m. and tickets were a uniform $1.00 for adults and 50-cents for children.

Finally, Bonnie Brown, the younger sister of Jim Ed and Maxine Brown, joined the act. The unwieldy billing of Jim Ed, Maxine and Bonnie Brown would soon change to just "The Browns".

Tonight, Elvis Presley and the Browns appeared at the large Auditorium in the Mayfair Building on the fair grounds in Tyler, Texas. Admission $1.00 for adults, children 50 cents.

With the Hayride booking office, Bob Neal secured a week's worth of additional Texas touring at the end of August. The reaction from Colonel Parker was another letter complaining about lack of co-ordination, again enraged over the ''milking a territory'' situation that he felt Neal was guilty of. The Colonel suggested another meeting, this time in Memphis with Elvis and his father present. The Colonel took the issue further and wrote Elvis' father, mentioning that he couldn't get hold of Neal, and consequently a good deal for Elvis was being help up.


The tour moved on to the outdoor Rodeo Arena on the Laneville Highway in Henderson, Texas. According to Red West, ''Hey was on a flatbed truck in this rodeo arena. We had the pink Cadillac then, I remember, 'cause after the show was over, he drove around in the arena knocking dust up in the stands, and people just loved it''.


In Gladewater, Texas, Elvis Presley and the Browns performed at Bear Stadium, the home of Gladewater's semi-pro baseball team. Elvis Presley arrived in a pink Cadillac and the show was staged from a flat-bed truck parked at second base.

The number of people attending is estimated by Buzz Long, now Mayor of nearby Big Sandy, at only twenty people. Elvis Presley appeared upset at the poor turnout and during the first half of his show he barely moved a muscle. During intermission, Buzz could see Scotty Moore and Bill Black trying to pump up Elvis' spirits. It worked, and Elvis Presley lived up to his "Fireball" reputation during the second half of the show.


In the evening, Elvis Presley was back with the Browns at the Reo Palm Isle Club in Longview, Texas. Their show began at 8:00 p.m. and was followed by country dancing until midnight.

According to Red West, ''The Reo Palm Isle in Longview, Texas, was a wild-ass Texas night club. I remember a bunch od sailors came in, I don't know where the hell the sailors came from. We got in a hell of a fight, and I was just trying to protect Elvis. The show was going, but finally stopped.

Scotty and Bill were starting to protect their instruments, and I said, 'Elvis, let's get the hell out of here'. So we were working our way through the fight, and these little girls were asking, 'Can I have your autograph'? and Elvis said, 'Yeah'. We got in the parking lot, there was like an acre of parking lot, and they were fighting, and I remember, certain things stick in your mind, I looked over a few cars and I saw a guy holding a guy, hitting him with a damn bottle, Bam! Bam!, pounding the shit out of him. And these little girls wanting autographs and Elvis saying, 'Okay, okay, watch out honey'. So we got in the car, left, and I looked back. The whole parking lot was a battleground. We didn't know where Scotty and Bill were''.


Elvis Presley worked this evening with The Browns at Driller Park, another large baseball field in Kilgore, Texas, drew so many people they might could all have fit in the back of Cowboy Jack's pickup truck! "At the time, most people weren't too excited about Elvis coming in town", wrote van Craddock in the Longview News Journal.

"The big event townfolk were talking about was that weekend's performance of the Kilgore Junior College Rangerettes and the Ranger Band at Chicago's College All Star football game. Some 75,000 turned out to watch the Rangerettes' Chicago performance, which was about 74,900 more than turned out to see Elvis shake his pelvis in Kilgore".

Paula Lane was one of that handful. "I remember it was very hot and Elvis had on a peach colored sport coat", said Lane. "He performed right in front of home plate. We were screaming, but I don't remember anyone else getting excited. It was mostly an older crowd there".

''This cat came out'', recalled future country star Bob Luman in later years, ''He was wearing red pants and a green coat with pink shirt and socks, and he had this sneer on his face and stood behind the mike for about five minutes, I'll bet, before he made a move''. Then he hit his guitar with a lick, and he broke two strings. Hell, I'd been playing for ten years, and I hand't broken a total of two strings. So there he was, these two strings dangling, and he hadn't done anything except break guitar strings''. Then the girls started screaming, and Luman, a high school student at the time, felt cold chills run up his back, as he knew his life's course was set.

Meanwhile, Colonel Tom Parker frustrated by what he sees as Bob Neal's incompetence and not above capitalizing on it, writes directly to Vernon Presley, because, he explains, he has been unable to reach Neal and wants Vernon to know right away that he has a ''very good deal'' pending.


Elvis Presley appeared again on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport. Following the show, he drove back to Memphis. ''Baby Let's Play House'' it was number 5 on Billboard's ''Most Played by Jockeys'' country and western list.

(Above) Mimosa Room on Lake Gladewater, Gladewater, Texas, August 14, 1955. (clockwise around the table from bottom left) Floyd Brown and Birdie Brown celebrating their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Norma Brown, Jim Ed Brown, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, D.J. Fontana, Floyd Cramer, Red West, Tom Paul, Jimmy Day, Elvis Presley, Billie Perryman, Vicki Perryman, Marilyn Perryman, Maxine Brown, and Bonnie Brown.


Elvis Presley attends Jim Ed and Maxine Brown's parents' twenty-fifth wedding anniversary party in Gladewater, Texas. A photograph of the group includes 1955 Humes High School graduate Red West, who has been going out with the group occasionally throughout the year, and Elvis sometime accompanists, piano player Floyd Cramer and steel guitarist Jimmy Day.

Bob Neal arranged for a photo shoot the following week to fill out Hill and Range's song portfolio, when by now had taken on an almost fanzine look. On a more serious issue, Neal had to inform Scotty and Bill that, going forward, they would have to work for a fee as opposed to their original twenty-five per cent share. Most of the week was devoted to leisure, but it also marked the end of Elvis' romantic relationship with his favourite girl, Dixie Locke, whom he had been dating since the spring of 1954.


On August 15, 1955, Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley signed at his house on 2414 Lamar Avenue in Memphis, a one-year contract for Parker to act as Elvis' "special advisor" while Bob Neal remained as manager. (Family friends say that was the beginning of the end for Gladys. Her life revolved around Elvis; now she was losing him). The contract allowed Parker to pick up two additional one-year options.

It also granted Parker exclusive territorial rights to no less than 47 cities in the United States including such current hot spots for Elvis Presley as Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, Jacksonville, Tampa, Richmond and Cleveland.

The list also set aside for Parker the lucrative markets of New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Finally, there were the towns that would make up Elvis' first major swing outside of the South and Southwest in May 1956: Des Moines, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Omaha, and Dayton. In each location, Parker could book Elvis Presley and pay him only $200 per show, including musicians.

As an added bonus, the agreement gave the Colonel the exclusive right to negotiate any renewal to existing contracts in Elvis' behalf. This included Elvis' contracts with Sun Records and the Louisiana Hayride.

Colonel Tom Parker was not the first person to which Elvis Presley turned to take the managerial reins from Bob Neal. Tom Perryman in Gladewater, T. Tommy Cutrer in Shreveport and Bill Randle in Cleveland were each approached by Elvis Presley to become his manager. In each case, the matter never got beyond the inquiry phase, as all three men were reluctant to assume more responsibilities apart from their successful radio work.

In August, when Elvis Presley had with Bill Haley during his appearance in Cleveland with Bill Randle, they spent a great deal of time backstage talking about rock music, and had sung "Rock Around The Clock" together. Colonel Tom Parker also takes at length with Haley's manager, Lord Jim Ferguson, prompting the Colonel to recommended that Elvis Presley record songs that local audience were purchasing. Bill Haley also urged Elvis Presley to develop his stage personality to its fullest. When Haley was a dynamic performer and the audience responded with vigorous applause. It was as if Bill Haley was rising to the challenge that he knew was coming from young Elvis Presley. For his part, after thinking about the positive reaction to "Rock Around The Clock" that he had witnessed, Elvis Presley began to include Haley's signature song in his own act.

Meanwhile, the Colonel's pal booking agent A.V. ''Bam'' Bamford, remains dubious about Elvis' future conceding in a letter to the Colonel that he made be ''hotter than a firecracker'', but reminding Parker that this is true only in certain areas. Bamford says he will consider booking Elvis into new territories if he can pair those bookins with ones in established towns. He mentions that KXLA, the only country and western station in Los Angeles, doesn't play Presley at all.


In a letter to Julian Aberbach of Hill and Range, Colonel Tom Parker explains that he now has a three-year representation deal with Elvis and Vernon Presley and is close to making a deal with a major label. Through reliable sources he has learned that Elvis' 1955 record sales are a little more than 100,000 copies.

This letter appears to be a follow-up to an earlier request by the Colonel for financial support from the Aberbachs in purchasing Elvis' contract from Sun, which may in turn have been a follow-up the folio.

According to Bob Neal, ''The money situation was always set up to the effect that it would be divided into four parts. Two parts go to Elvis and one part each to Scotty and Bill. And sometime here in 1955 it became obvious you know that this was not fair and not the best way to go and so on, because Elvis was the star regardless of the fact that they contributed largely to it. So I recall we had quite a crisis in coming to the point, and I had to handle that and then announcing to Scotty and Bill that we were no longer going to operate like that, that they would paid a fee per day that we would agree on. But that they would not participate in the overall thing. You know, I remember that there was quite a bit of unhappiness at that time, plus threats that maybe they would quit and so on. But as it worked out they went ahead in that particular situation. Things were beginning to break to the extent then that there was getting to be a pretty good amount of money involved in a lot of the dates. And Elvis, well actually, from a pure physical point he was having to buy the cars and buy his wardrobe and things of that type and supply transportation. So naturally, it was more logical. They were part of it, but people came to see Elvis. They didn't come to see the others two bos''.

The acceleration of costs was further emphasized the day after the meeting with Parker. In conjunction with orders for merchandize from Elvis Presley Enterprises, their credit was examined, revealing that ''Elvis Presley was a minor, and that his manager, Bob Neal, did not have 'too good' a credit either''.


Billboard, in its "Review Spotlight" section, examined "I Forgot To Remember To Forget", predicting the single would be "This disk is certain to get strong initial exposure", and ''Presley is currently on the best selling charts with ''Baby Let's Play House'' and the wide acceptance of this side should ease the way for new disk. Flip, ''Mystery Train'', is a splendid coupling, with the guitar outstanding''.

Elvis Presley dropped in on the Louisiana Hayride for his weekly performance. On this show he sang "Baby Let's Play House", and "Maybellene". After two false starts, he was able to complete a torrid version of "That's All Right".


During the late part of August 1955 and unbeknownst to Colonel Tom Parker, Bob Neal was already negotiating with Horage Logan a renewal of Elvis' Hayride contract. The current first year contract was going to an and on November 12, 1955.

All decisions, with respect to Elvis' career, had to go through the Colonel's office according to an agreement signed in the previous month, naming Colonel Tom Parker as ''Special Advisor''.

On this particular occasion, Bob Neal decided to take it upon himself to obtain some security for Elvis, but also more than likely, was asserting his indepentdence from Colonel Tom Parker.

The contract was prepared and signed during the first week of September as reported in the Shreveport Times on September 8, 1955. Once again his parent's co-signed the contract as Elvis was still under the age of 21. The Hayride would now pick up the Presley option for $200 an appearance which was a fair increase compared to his current contract that paid the union scale of $18 a show.

The contract also stipulated that, ''...artist is given the right to miss one Saturday performance during each 60 day period''. Horage Logan alse added a sideline note that $400 must be paid to the Hayride for every additional show Elvis would miss.

All this was done very much to the objection of Colonel Tom Parker. He urged Vernon Presley (Elvis' father) not to sign the agreement, as he felt that there was no need for a committed contract.

He was close of a new recording contract with a major label. However, in Vernon's mind wanting some kind of financial security, he signed the agreement that took hold on November 11, 1955, just as Elvis present contract would end.



Composer: - Arthur Gunter
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Fort Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (3:17)
Recorded: - August 20, 1955
Released: - 1983
First appearance: - Louisiana Hayride (LP) 33rpm NR-8973 mono
Reissued: - November 2011 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-13 mono

Composer: - Chuck Berry-Frato Reed
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Arc Music Corporation - Isalee Music Publishers
Matrix number: - WPA5-2536 - Not Originally Issued (2:39)
Recorded: - August 20, 1955
Released: - 1983
First appearance: - Louisiana Hayride (LP) 33rpm NR-8973 mono
Reissued: - November 2011 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-14 mono

In the early 1950s Chuck Berry performed Bob Wills's song "Ida Red" in his nightclub act, imitating the popular country singers of the day. After signing with Chess records, "Ida Red" was Berry's first recording. He reportedly recorded 36 takes before a version was judged suitable for release. The title was changed to "Maybellene" after Berry remembered a cow named "Maybellene" in a childhood nursery rhyme. "Maybellene" (Chess 1604) became a number one rhythm and blues hit in 1955. It also did well on the Top 100 chart, peaking at number 5. Sales exceeded one million copies.

Composer: - Arthur Crudup
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Arthur Crudup Music
Matrix number: - None - False Start 1 - False Start 2 - Not Originally Issued (2:31)
Recorded: - August 20, 1955
Released: - 1983
First appearance: - Louisiana Hayride (LP) 33rpm NR-8973 mono
Reissued: - November 2011 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-15 mono

First appearance: - November 2011 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-23 mono

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley - Vocal and Acoustic Rhythm Guitar (Martin Dreadnought 18)
Scotty Moore - Electric Lead Guitar (Gibson ES 295)
Bill Black - Acoustic Upright Bass (Kay Maestro M-1)
Dominic Joseph Fontana - Drums (Gretsch Round Badge Kit)

In closing out the Sun era, it's important to remember the part of Sam Phillips. But it's just as important to know that Elvis, Scotty, and Bill would also be working on innovative ways to make this music successful.



Sometime during the summer Elvis appears in Mount Pleasant, Texas, at the American Legion Hall, very likely on this date, or a week later.


Elvis Presley began a week-long tour across the middle of Texas. He headlined a group of Louisiana Hayride performers including Johnny Horton, Betty Amos, David Houston, Sonny Trammell, Ray Gorman, Tillman Franks, "Woody Birdbrain" Dalton and Lula Joe, and Horage Logan who acted as emcee.

Tonight's show was at 8:15 p.m. at Spudder Park, the local semi-pro baseball field in Wichita Falls, Texas. Tickets for this show were only a quarter in advance and 50-cents at the gate. A special stage had been constructed on second base by using a flat-bed truck. Opening the show was Bill Mack and his band. For the show Elvis Presley wore a black shirt and pink trousers. In the audience, Bill Mack's mother felt that Elvis' mischief on stage was vulgar. After the show, Elvis Presley offered to drive Scotty Moore, Bill Black, Bill Mack, and Tillman Franks to the Toddle House for hamburgers. However, during the show he left the lights on and the battery of his latest Cadillac was dead. Elvis had left his lights on. A gentle push from a farmer's pickup got them on their way.

After the show Elvis signed autograph as usual and answered questions from some fans. Some girls from Stamford asked Elvis if a new song they'd heard on the radio was his. Elvis informed them it was a Chuck Berry song. ''Mr. Berry is black and I am white'', said Elvis. As Elvis leaned on his Cadillac, he overheard Bill Mack talking about going to the hospital to see his newborn. Elvis asked if he could tag along and jumped into Bill's new Pontiac. Making a quick stop at Berverly's Drive-In for a bite, they drove to the hospital, where Elvis baby-talked to the infant. The whole incident made Elvis hungry, so he and Bill headed for the Toddle House Restaurant.


The tour stopped for a show in Bryan, Texas. The performance was said to be at the Saddle Club, but a check with the locals determined that there never was an establishment by that name. It may be that the Saddle Club was a rodeo organization and not a nightclub.


Elvis Presley was scheduled to play in Conroe, Texas. He arrived early in the day and had his pink Cadillac washed at a local service station. To promote the evening's show, several of the entertainers performed briefly on the courthouse sets in the afternoon.

The stage for the evening's show was constructed by parking two-flad-bed trucks side-by-side on the football field of Davy Crockett High School Football Stadium from Conroe High. Appearing as an opening act was 16-year old Mary McCoy of Conroe, a singer who also appeared earlier in the year on the Louisiana Hayride and who performed with Elvis Presley several times in Houston, Texas.

The show was an hour and a half old before Elvis Presley made his entrance. As he came bounding up the makeshift steps to the makeshift stage, he tripped and banged his head. Dazed but ever the showman, Elvis Presley gave the packed stands about forty minutes of blazing rock 'n' roll. After the show, Elvis Presley rested at the Blue Bird Motel on North Frazier.

According to Bob Watkins, ''When it came time for the announcers to introduces Elvis, the stadium was filled with anticipation. At the mention of Elvis' name, the modest crowd cheered and looked expectantly at the parked Cadillac. Then Elvis quickly crawled out of the back seat, pulling his guitar with him, and ran for the stage''.

''He jumped onto one of the benches and was about to bounce onto the stage, when the bench toppled over under the sudden shift of his weight. Elvis crashed down hard onto the flatbed truck, and the resulting thud could be heard clearly in the stadium. There was a collective gasp from the crowd and then total silence. Elvis just lay there, face down on the truck bed with his guitar clasped tightly in one hand off to the side. No one moved. He must have stayed motionless for a complete minute. Then Elvis jumped up and almost bounced to the microphone on stage, whipped the guitar strap around his neck, assumed his classic pose with the feet spread apart, shook his head and that long black hair, and said, 'Whew'! Whit that, and to the great relief of the crowd, he began to play his first song, despite a very large and obvious red knot on his forehead''.

Mary McCoy says, ''He stepped out in a red sport coat, white lace shirt, and lime green trousers, and stripped on the stairs to the flatbed truck and hurt his head. It was raining. He sang '' That's All Right'' and ''Maybellene''. It was a wonder he wasn't knocket out. He had a big lump on his head. What was so bad about it was some people were jealous, and news travelled that he was drunk. But that was not true, he wasn't drunk''.


Elvis Presley and the Hayride group performed in Austin at 8:00 p.m. at the Sportcenter, 501 Barton Springs Road, Austin, Texas. Tickets were 75-cents in advance and $1.00 at the door. Children's admission was 50-cents.

The stage was low, and when Elvis Presley begins his portion of the show, teenagers got out of their chairs and rushed up front to sit on the floor. One song that Elvis Presley sang on this date was "I Forgot To Remember To Forget".

As soon as the show finished, teens scrambled on stage to get his autograph, at the same time pushing Elvis Presley against the fake fence backdrop. Later, it was reported by the Austin Statesman (September 29, 1955) that "enthusiastic fans (mainly teenage girls) practically ripped him apart before he even got on stage".

According to JoAnne Phillips, ''We had seats fairly close to the front. The stage was only about three feet high, with a fence background. As soon as Elvis walked on stage, there was a mass exodus of teens to sit on the floor directly in front of the stage. It was as close as we could get without being arrested''.

''Elvis was wearing a narrow belt with the buckle about halfway between his side and front. That was cool in 1955. I remember him singing, ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget'' because he looked at Melba, (Joann's cousin), smiled, and winked, and he promptly fell over my lap. She couldn't afford to really faint because she'd miss a second of seeing Elvis''.

''When the show was over, we all started up on stage to get our hands autographed. Everybody was pushing and shoving, and I got pushed jam up against Elvis. It was a little panicky. He was pushed against the fence and I was jammed against him. I could hear the fance creak. I was really afraid it would fall over, and everybody would either fall on us or trample us. It held. Elvis autographed our hands. Melba's mom said, 'C'Mon, JoAnne'. We started moving through the crowd, holding our hands up, as if under arrest. As we left Elvis reached up and caught me by the hand, squeezed it, and said, 'Goodbye, JoAnne'. With what little breath I had left, I could only manage a weak 'Bye'''.



(Above) Elvis Presley, a young man whose boppish approach to hillbilly music has made him one of the hottest performers of the day, will be headlining a troupe of Louisiana Hayride stars when they stage a Western music jamboree Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Sportcenter.

Appearing with Presley will be guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, his recording partners, plus a dozen or so headliners from the nationally famed Louisiana Hayride show in Shreveport.

Included on the bill will be such folk music specialists as Johnny Horton, Betty Amos, David Houston, Dalton and Lulu Jo, Sonny Tremmell, Ray Gomer, Tillman Franks, and Willie Birdbrain, the hillbilly comic.

During his comparatively short career in the music world, young Presley, the star of the show, has made a spectacular climb to nationwide popularity.

About a year ago, Presley, Moore and Black were teaming up to make a personal record when they were accidentally heard by a recording manager. Impressed by the rocking style of Presley and his friends, the manager contracted the group to make a pressing whose immediate success started the 20-year-old Presley on the way to his present position of prominence.

Since that first disc - "That's All Right", - Presley has applied his half-bop, half-Western style to such tunes as "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine", "Good Rockin' Tonight", "You're A Heartbreaker", and "Milk Cow Blues Boogie", each of which has enjoyed wide popularity throughout the country.

Sparks.....Bob Neal, currently working with Col. Tom Parker on promotion for the Hank Snow show in the South, reports that he has Elvis Presley, Martha Carson, the Carlisles, Ferlin Husky, J. E. and Maxine Brown and Onie Wheeler set for a week's trek beginning May 29. Neal, who is Presley's personal manager, says the latter has a new release on Sun, "Baby, Let's Play House" b/w "You're Right, I'm Left, She's Gone". Disc jockey’s may receive a copy by writing him at 160 Union Street, Memphis, Neal says.


The week-long tour ended with an 8:00 p.m. show in Conzales, Texas, at the city's semi-pro Baseball Park and was sponsored by the Gonzales Quarterback club. Admission was seventy-five cents in advance and $1.00 at the door with children allowed in for only a quarter. Headliner on the bill Elvis Presley with Scotty and Bill. Also on the bill, Johnny Horton, Betty Amos, Dalton and Lula-Jo, David Houston, Willie Birdbrain, and many others.


Elvis Presley, along with the rest of his group of performers, was back on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport.

For Charles ''The Cat'' Canfield, August 27 became a career highlight. Just out of the Navy, Charles was writing and performing traditional country songs in the style of Hank Williams. One night, he persuaded some local musicians to go with him to a recording studio after their gig, and during the night, they recorded a handful of Charles songs. When released, the A-side, ''Cry, Cry On'', got enough attention on the jukebox in Monroe for the Louisiana Hayride's Horace Logan to take notice. He called Canfield and invited him to be a special guest on the August 27 Louisiana Hayride show as an an emergency for Billy Walker, who had a car accident and couldn't be there. Charles got a spot in the first hour, beginning with ''Tennessee Saturday Night'', which led into Hayride star Jim Reeves' first appearance of the night. Johnny Horton had already brought the house down with a rendition of Bill Haley's ''Rock Around The Clock'', and Charles got the chance to close the first hour of the show, singing, ''Cry, Cry On''.

Jeanette Hicks opened the second hour, but what most of the audience was waiting for was the next artist, a young man dressed in pink and black, the same colours as the Cadillac he had parked outside. Charles thought he looked like a teddy bear when he came out ob stage, instantly going into one side of his brand-new record released, ''Mystery Train''. Like the rest of the cast, Elvis' slot was a two-song performance, followed by Dobber Johnson, Buddy Attaway, and Hoot and Curly. Elvis returned at 10:45 p.m. with two more songs, ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'' and Chuck Berry's ''Maybellene'', the song that Elvis had insisted on doing at every show during August.

When it was all over, Charles Canfield savoured his ''fifteen minutes'', sitting next to Presley and signing autographs for fans.


Elvis, Scotty and Bill were interviewed by Elvis manager, Bob Neal, over WMPS radio in Memphis, Tennessee, as a plug for Friday night's show in Texarkana. The interview had originally been set up to publicize an appearance that Friday night in Texarkana, Arkansas, but Elvis Presley spent most of the time talking about Colonel Tom Parker's plans for his career. There was a sense of urgency and a gleeful tone in Elvis voice as he excitedly described his bright future. "We want to invite everybody out to the show", said Scotty Moore.

"And they've all been asking about the drummer who we had up there last time, D.J. Fontana. He's going to be with us. He's a regular member of our band now...".

''Tell you what", says Bob, "Before we call over some other folks here to talk, Elvis Presley, how you doin?". "Fine, Robert, how you gettin' along?". "Oh, doin ' grand, I know all the folks down at Texarkana been raising such a whoop and a holler for you come down and whoop and holler at 'em that they got this great big double show scheduled for Friday night at the auditorium down there. What do you think about it?". "Bob, I just wanted to say one thing. Friday night we'll be down there, and I'll have a brand spanking new pose of Elvis for a picture, and they'll be selling at the same old price of only a quarter. And I'll have about four or five million of them. if anybody would like to have just one, why, I'll have plenty of 'em, before the show, during intermission, after the show, the fact is, I may sell them out there all night long. That's all I got to say", said Elvis Presley.

"I would like to invite everybody out Friday night to see our big show", he declares, "because I don't know when we'll be coming back that way... It'll probably be a pretty long while before we can come back to Texarkana", he concludes.




Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued (5:30)
Recorded: - August 31, 1955
Released: - 2003
First appearance: - Gear Productions (CD) 500/200rpm ESP 0703 mono
Reissued: - August 3, 2012 FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-3-32 mono

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black
Interviewed by Bob Neal


BOB NEAL - was born to his missionary parents in the Belgian Congo on October 6, 1917 on the continent of Africa. He spent his early years traveling between Africa and Europe as well as the United States.

In the late 1940s, he had his own program on WMPS, "The Bob Neal Farm Hour". On that show he featured nothing but country music.

Along came 1954 and Sam Phillips of Sun Records called Bob Neal and told him he had a new act on his label and asked Bob if he could get him on a show. Bob put him on a show on August 10, 1954 and in one interview, Bob said he was surprised at the great audience reaction to a newcomer. Later on, he asked Elvis if he had a manager. That led to Bob managing Elvis for about a year and a half.

Neal was said to have given Elvis a free ticket to attend a Jordanaires concert at Ellis Auditorium. Bob introduced Elvis to the Jordanaires. He also arranged for the Speers portrait photos of Elvis that were mass produced and sold at venues. He then accompanied Elvis and his group to Cleveland for what was their first ''Northern'' personal appearance. From there, he flew to New York with them for the failed Arthur Godfrey TV show audition in March 1955.

At some point in 1954, he arranged a tour for Elvis, the Louvin Brothers and Jim Ed and Maxine Brown.

Like any new singer, getting the word out about them is part of the overall effort. In 1955, Bob was able to prime the two main music publications of that era, Billboard and Cash Box with plenty of material to use to help promote Elvis and generate interest in his career.

Johnny Cash told readers in a 1958 biography type article how Bob Neal came to be a part of his life. It was around 1955; Bob was the manager of Elvis Presley in addition to his disc jockey duties at WMPS. Johnny had just written and released a new tune called "Cry, Cry, Cry". He had gotten the inspiration from a WSM disc jockey by the name of Eddie Hill. It seems Eddie was frequently telling his listeners every show, "...Stay tuned, we're gonna bawl, squall and run up the wall''. Johnny's first inclination was to make it a novelty song and call it "You're Gonna Bawl, Bawl, Bawl'', but didn't like that and wrote his legendary classic.

Bob called Johnny one day and told him his record was getting a lot of requests at the station. He also wanted to know if Johnny would be interested in doing a short tour with Elvis, Webb Pierce and a few others. Johnny was so ecstatic about that offer that it wasn't until after he had hung up that he realized he hadn't asked how much Bob was going to pay him on the tour.

Bob's talent agency was known as Stars, Inc. In 1956, he was putting together a package of shows that would take several artists on a tour through Florida during September and October. The roster of entertainers was to include Johnny Cash, Sonny James, Roy Orbison and the Teen Kings, Johnny Horton, Faron Young and others. That same 1956 column told readers that Elvis played to a crowd of 14,000 at Russwood Park in a July 4, 1956 concert in Memphis. It was a benefit show for the "Milk Fund''.

At the time Johnny's career was getting started, he was being managed by Dick Stuart, another Memphis disc jockey. Dick arranged an audition for Johnny with the Louisiana Hayride over KWKH out of Shreveport, Louisiana. One thing led to another - appearances around the country and eventually leading to Nashville. On his debut appearance at WSM's Grand Ole Opry, he sang "I Walk The Line". By that time, Bob Neal had become his manager.

Another aspect of the relationship with Elvis was a business partnership they formed that became the original "Elvis Presley Enterprises''. The offices for their endeavor was at the office Bob rented at 160 Union Avenue in Memphis. His wife, Helen the secretary.

When Bob took Johnny to the Louisiana Hayride, it may have led to other endeavors on his part as well. In 1958, one article reported that Bob Neal was the new owner of radio station KCIJ in Shreveport.

While managing Johnny, he gave his career a different turn. He wasn't the first singer to try it - a movie role to broaden his audience appeal. Elvis had done "G. I. Blues" around that time. Johnny found himself in "Five Minutes To Live".

A 1963 article notes that Bob had a hand in the Wil-Helm Talent Agency that was created by the Wilburn Brothers and Don Helms; whether this was a business arrangement or friendly professional assistance wasn't clear. However, a later article glossing through the historical events over a period of time noted that Bob "left" the Wil-Helm agency in 1963 to form his own agency.

In 1966, Bob handled the bookings for the Compton Brothers on the East Coast. Around that time they had signed to be regulars on the WWVA Jamboree over in Wheeling, West Virginia. The OMAC agency was to handle their bookings on the west coast. That's the same group that handled Buck Owens.

Early in 1966, Bob included a news item in Country Music Life describing the success his agency saw in 1965. It was his best year since he had moved operations to Nashville and stated that he would have to limit the number of artists he represented to be able to offer them the best effort of his agency. At the time he was representing Carl Belew, Tommy Cash, Stonewall Jackson, Sonny James, Warner Mack, Johnny Paycheck, Pete Drake, Connie Hall and Jimmy Martin.

In 1966, he began to book Jack Reno who had just left his disc jockey position at WXCL in Peoria, Illinois.

We continue to see evidence of how Bob was able to get his roster of talent included in the news of the day. Another 1966 article notes that Bob had Stonewall Jackson heavily booked for a couple of months, including a 15-day tour to Japan in May.

When Johnny Paycheck released his Little Darlin' record, "The Lovin' Machine" in 1966, it set off a flury of activity for Johnny. After finishing a tour in the northeast, he was set to work with the Jayne Mansfield show in Florida for a 29-day tour in the southern part of the USA. Bob and Aubrey Mayhew were also trying to put together a syndicated television show for Johnny as well.

Late in 1966, he added Montie Lee (the older brother of Melba Montgomery) to his stable of artists that he was managing. And showing no signs of slowing down, he later added Ruby Wright, then on Epic Records, Clyde Pitts of Columbia Records and Warner Mack, on Decca at the time.

Again late 1966, his agency made the news by arranging to have Conway Twitty and the Lonely Blue Boys make their first appearance in Nashville after Conway's switch to country music. The appearance was to be at the Nashville Police Department Show on October 15 and 16, 1966.

Bob was proving to be quite an astute business person at promotion. In an August 1966 article, he announced he had a 37% increase in gross bookings over the same five month period in 1965 and expressed satisfaction that gross commission earnings were up for the Bob Neal Agency. He noted that 1966 was shaping up to be the best year yet for his agency. Bob Neal died on May 9, 1983.


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