ELVIS SUN 1955 (11)
November 1, 1955 to November 30, 1955

Studio Session for Elvis Presley, November 1-4, 1955

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Sam Phillips was on the point of going bankrupt. The banks would not lend him money against the dubious assets he had accumulated. The pressing plants were screaming for money and he owed publishing royalties, artist royalties, an unrecouped advance to Chess Records, unrepaid funds from the buyout deal with his brother Jud... and probably more.

During the first week of November 1955, RCA quietly finalized arrangements with Colonel Tom Parker and Sam Phillips to purchase Elvis Presley's Sun recording contract. RCA then set its publicity machinery in motion to make Elvis Presley into a superstar. On top of all the other factors influencing RCA's decision to sign Elvis Presley, there was finally a corporate consensus that he could be a moneymaking act.

It was becoming clear that rock and roll music was bursting onto the scene with such vitality and intensity that the profits from a standout exponent of this new musical form were potentially enormous. All the major record labels were aware of this trend, and were eagerly seeking out new rock and roll tunes.


Started Fernwood Records, a Memphis record label located on 158 Fernwood Drive, founded by Truck driver Slim Wallace (who previously fronted a hillbilly band in Memphis called Slim Wallace's Dixie Rambles). Scotty Moore was production chief, with the studio located in the Wall garage. Some of the most sought after honky-tonk and rockabilly recordings of the 1950s were cut in this garage in Memphis. It was Scotty Moore who selected the song "Tragedy" for Thomas Wayne to record. The tape was brought over to Sun Records, where Scotty Moore added an echo on Sun's tape recorder. Jack Clement also produced some records at Fernwood.

WHBQ disc jockey Dewey Phillips even recorded for Fernwood Records, cutting "Beg Your Pardon"/"If It Had To Be You" (Fernwood 115).


Bob Neal was involved in an auto accident, but he was not seriously hurt.


RCA Victor entered the bidding for Elvis' contract with Sun Records, offering $35,000 to Sam Phillips and $5,000 as a bonus to Elvis, which would cover the back royalties due him.


This final session at Sun Records, Elvis recorded "When It Rains, It Pours", but the session never finished because the session was probably broken off due to the imminent sale of his contract to RCA Victor. Elvis is back on familiar ground: once again, we hear him confidently singing the blues, though this time, seemingly, with far more knowingness than the innocent nineteen-year-old of just one year earlier could ever have assumed.



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Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Riverline Music
Matrix number: - None - Incomplete Take 1 (1:36)
Recorded: - November 1-4, 1955
Most likely November 20, 1955
Released: - August 3, 2012
First appearance: - FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2/36 mono
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-2/17 mono

Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Riverline Music
Matrix number: - None - Rehearsal - Take 2 (2:11)
Recorded: - November 1-4, 1955
Most likely November 20, 1955
Released: - August 3, 2012
First appearance: - FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2/37 mono
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-2/17 mono

Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Riverline Music
Matrix number: - None - Long False Start Take 3 - False Start Take 4 (1:59)
Recorded: - November 1-4, 1955
Released: - August 3, 2012
First appearance: - FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2/38 mono
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-2/18 mono

Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Riverline Music
Matrix number: - NPA5-5826 Master Take 5 (2:01)
Recorded: - November 1-4, 1955
Most likely November 20, 1955
Released: - August 3, 2012
First appearance: - FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2/39 mono
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-1/23 mono

Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Riverline Music
Matrix number: - None - Rehearsal - Take 6 - False Start - Take 7 (1:39)
Recorded: - November 1-4, 1955
Most likely November 20, 1955
Released: - August 3, 2012
First appearance: - FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2/40 mono
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-2/19 mono

Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Riverline Music
Matrix number: - None - Long False Start - Take 8 (1:39)
Recorded: - November 1-4, 1955
Most likely November 20, 1955
Released: - August 3, 2012
First appearance: - FTD Records (CD) 500/200rpm 506020-975049-2/41 mono
Reissued: - 2016 Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 10053055-2/19 mono

Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - RCA NPA5-5826 - LP Master (2:00)
Recorded: - November 1-4, 1955 Most likely November 20, 1955
Released: - November 1983
First appearance: - RCA Victor (LP) 33rpm CPL1-4848 A-1 mono
Mistitled as ''When It Rains, It Really Pours''
Reissued: - October 1984 RCA (LP) 33rpm CPM6-5172 A-6 mono

Steve Sholes Session Notes

tape Box 11
1. When It Rains, It Really Pours Take 1 (Part) 5 IPS
2. Breakdown - Long Rehearsal Bit (When It Rains)
3. When It Rains, It Really Pours Take 3 (2:00)
4. Breakdown
5. Breakdown
6. Rehearsal 1:20 Breakdown
7. Breakdown 0:19 FS

Billy ''The Kid'' Emerson wrote and recorded this song as "When It Rains, It Pours" at Sun Records in late 1954. His recording (SUN 214) was released the same day on January 8, 1955 as Elvis Presley's "Milkcow Blues Boogie"/"You're A Heartbreaker" (SUN 215).

Sam Phillips approached sessions with one overriding concern; to keep things simple. He can be heard on this tape again, telling the musicians not to overplay.

On this outtake of "When It Rains, It Pours", Sam Phillips warns Scotty Moore, hardly prone to overplaying anyway, "Scotty, don't get too damn complicated in the middle there". He also wanted the vocals to be direct and honest. "I wanted to feature the person who was supposed to be featured and set up the atmosphere that got the best result (for Presley)", he said later.

Composer: - Stanley Kesler-Charlie Feathers
Publisher: - B.M.I. - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - BOX 11
Recorded: - November 1-4, 1955 - Probably Rehearsal
Most likely November 20, 1955
Released: – Sun Unissued - Probably Tape Lost

Johnny Bernero remembers this session shortly before the RCA deal was consummated. "We had cut one side and started on another", recalls Bernero, "when Elvis went up into the control room with Sam. They were up there about thirty minutes. We were just sitting around on the studio floor chewing the fat. Then Elvis came back down and came over to me and said, "John, we're not going to finish this session, but I really appreciate you coming over". "He gave me fifty dollars. The next thing I knew, Sam had sold his contract".

The songs that were to be used for Presley's sixth Sun single are a matter for some conjecture. Sam Phillips undoubtedly wanted to use his own copyrights, and Elvis Presley had started work on Billy Emerson's "When It Rains, It Pours". For a country flipside, Elvis Presley was being pressured to perform another Kesler-Feathers song, "We're Getting Closer To Being Apart". A curiously muffled Sun rehearsal tape of "When It Rains" was discovered by RCA's Gregg Geller on one of his rummages through the vaults, but "We're Getting Closer To Being Apart" has never surfaced.

Johnny Bernero never saw Elvis Presley again after the aborted rehearsals for the sixth single. "He called me over at the Light Gas & Water Company one day", recalls Bernero, "and asked me to come on the road with him. I was really tempted. I had been with the Light Gas & Water for ten years and wanted to go, but I had five children at that time. The wife and I talked it over and we decided that it wouldn't have been the best thing for me". As it happened, Elvis Presley soon picked up a drummer, D.J. Fontana, from the Louisiana Hayride.

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

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


BILLY ''THE KID'' EMERSON - William Robert Emerson was born on 21 December 1925 in Tarpon Springs on Florida's gulf coast. During the early '30s, his mother encouraged him to sing in church and he says he can barely recall ra time when he wasn't singing. But, he underlined to researcher Jim O'Neal: "My mother never sang any blues, never sang any around me. The only way I could hear a blues was from extra gang guys railroad repair workers - or somebody come round singing a Bessie Smith song. A lady had an old graphaphone and she had a lot of blues records - Doctor Clayton, Memphis Minnie, Tampa Red, Hutterbeans and Susie''.

Billy told, matter of factly that "my family always were musicians'', and that his father played piano: "I got into music through him and through my uncle, John Hannon (or Hannah), who was a church pianist but used to play a little boogie-woogie''. Then he started listening to his next door neighbour, a man named 'Shine' who had played with the minstrel shows: "I used to watch Shine play the blues all the time when I was young. This was in the 1940s. Shine knew all the old classic blues''.

It seems that these informal lessons took the place of the more formal lessons Billy's mother planned for him, but which he had no patience for at that time. The official lessons cost a quarter, but 'a quarter was hard to come by because it was during the Depression''.

The process of thinking back to the 1930s and 1940s animated his conversation. He emphasised: "What inspired me, mostly, was the blues. And I was born right into the boogie era and the swing-jazz. Lunceford and Chick Webb and those guys. Louis Jordan, too, I was influenced by him and I liked his performing style a lot''. On the same theme, Billy told Jim O'Neal: "When I was a kid, the blues singer that / really liked better than anybody else was Buddy Johnson, Buddy and Ella Johnson. They were the most unbelievable group that I've ever known in the field. He had his own style of doing them, and Ella had her own style of singing too. I was about 14 and I heard their song called ''This Life Just Ain't Worth Living Without The One You Love'' and I say. You know what? If I ever get to be a singer I want to sing the blues like that''.

Emmerson's planned career as a blues singer was put on hold in April 1943 when he found himself in the Navy helping the war effort. He served for three years, shore-based within the U.S.A. The good side of this time was that there was always a piano somewhere on the naval bases: '' I learned how to play fairly well while I was in the service''.

When he got out the service in 1946, Emerson took the opportunity to finish High School in Clearwater and to sing with a band led by Mickey Maxwell. Then he joined what he called ''a little old four or five piece band '' back home in Tarpon Springs. He told me: ''That was when I really took up the piano. My first jobs were when I was still going school, in 1946. They were with a jazz trumpeter back home, the Billy Battles Band''. Although Emerson was not very experienced, this was nevertheless a serious band; Billy Battles had played trumpet with Lucky Millinder's band, drummer Solomon Hall had worked with Lionel Hampton's band, and the other members, George Battles, Willie Lyons, James Thomas and Henry Mathis, all had to teach Billy.

Music was not the young Emerson's only talent though. The years 1948 to 1951 found him in college at Florida A&M on a football and sports scholarship. According to Billy, he was "quite an athlete in those days.'

Nevertheless he continued his musical education, playing with the George Cooper Band in St. Petersburg at the High Stepper club, singing with Manzy Harris and with Charlie Brantley, whose band recorded on King Records. The St Petersburg area produced many top class musicians, some of whom like Oscar Dennard and Frank Foster went on to play with nationally known big bands. Billy remembered: "I saw all the bands, Louis Jordan. Roy Milton. I saw Wynonie Harris and Roy Brown. I was singing those Wynonie Harris songs in St. Petersburg. I was hollerin', people used to say on a clear night you could hear me clear across the bay in Tampa''.

For a while, Billy had his own band in St Petersburg at the Corral Drive In. He told Jim O'Neal, "The man bought us uniforms and he bought us these pistols and cowboy hats and everything so we could look like the waitresses – this was a white place, you know. When we'd get off at night, we'd still he dressed up in these uniforms, and erybody'd holler 'Here comes Billy The Kid'. And the name just stuck''.

By the early 1950s, Billy considered himself a professional musician, but he knew he was still learning a lot, particularly from a pianist who later joined the Lionel Hampton band: "Dwike Mitcheli taught me practically the style that I play. I/ used to go over to his house all the time, every day in the summer of 1952. I did learn a few things from Oscar Dennard, too. You know, those two lived only 20 miles apart. We were all in the same Baptist Union together.

The same year. Emerson found himself back in the forces helping with the Korean war effort. He was in the Air Force for a year, stationed mainly in Mississippi. He continued to look for opportunities to play music and it was there that he met a very different character who would have a significant influence on his musical direction. He told me, "On November 25. 1952. This was when I met Ike Turner. I was stationed in Greenville, Mississippi and Ike Turner was from Clarksdale and would let me sit in with him and Little Milton and I started to play with Ike's Kings Of Rhythm band when they were in Greenville''. Emerson was discharged in September 1953. He went back to Florida, "and soon after that Ike's band came on a tour down there. They were at Sarasota one time and Ike got sick so I took over in the band and Ike asked me to join the Kings full-time. I went up to Clearwater and joined them there''. He elaborated on this to Jim O'Neal, confirming that Ike was playing down around Bradenton, Florida for promoter Buddy May. Not only was Ike sick but his wife and pianist, Bonnie, had left him. Apparently, Turner told Buddy May that Emerson was based in Florida and to get him to finish out the engagement. Billy recalled. ''I was playing guitar at the time. The band was Jesse Knight, Willie Sims, and Johnny O'Neal. I brought the band back to Mississippi where Ike was. Ike was still sick and so I stayed on and played with therm. The man who was really responsible for me becoming a professional singer was Ike Turner. Ike was truly the one that showed me technique in singing, and he taught me how to deliver. Not only how to, but how not to. He taught me to project myself instead of projecting Fats Domino or Roy Brown.

Although Billy Emerson spent a lot of time in Mississippi and Memphis through the latter part of 1953 and the first half of 1954, and would return for periods during the next few years, he never became an integral part of the local music scene there. He has described playing not only with the Turner band but also with other musicians including Dennis Binder and Earl Hooker, and he told that he played at least one show on Beale Street: ''iI didn't play too much in Memphis, you know. When it did, I played the big Hippodrome on Beale, a dance hall". He also told that he was in Memphis as a stepping stone; he knew he could get himself on records there, but he didn't see it as his real base. In the summer of 1954, he travelled to Chicago with Dennis Binder, Bob Prindell and Bobby Fields, staying briefly and returning south to collect singer Billy Gayles. Then, "We went to Cairo, Illinois and picked up Charles Smitty Smith, Luther Taylor, and Bennie Moore there. We had a band at the Club Playtime in Cairo, and we put that band together and we came to Chicago with it''.

By November 1955. the time of the last Sun session, Sam Phillips had noted in his logs that Emerson had left his Cairo address. and he listed instead three Chicago addresses as contact points, first one on Prairie, then on 55th Place, and finally Ellis Street. He may or may not have known that on 22 November that same month, while he was still under contract to Sun. Billy had already made a session in Chicago for Vee-Jay Records. This was to be the start of some pretty convoluted recording wrangles surrounding Emerson over the coming years.

According to Billy, he had been in Chicago in the early summer of 1955, working at a club at 55' and Prairie, owned by Frank Taylor, and When It Rains had been out for some time. He said: "I went by VJ which was on 45th and Cottage at that time, and t asked Calvin Carter there 'Can I look at some of your 'Billboards' to check what if was doing? He saw 'When It Rains' listed in Dallas and New Orleans and so on Carter said 'Man that record's been out a long time and everybodys looking for the guy who recorded it'. Say. 'there 's a reward out for Billy The Kid'''. Emerson went out on tour for the summer but remembered this exchange after his last, apparently acrimonious, dealings with Sam Phillips in November. ''By December 1955 my contract with Sam was out. I called up Ewart Abner at Vee-Jay and said 'If you give me S1000 I'll sign with you'. So they brought me in and recorded me''.

After recording for several smaller labels, he formed his own Tarpon Records in 1966, releasing Denise LaSalle's debut single as well as his own records. He also continued to play in clubs and on European blues tours. In 2005 he was reported as having a church in Oak Park, Illinois, as Reverence William R. Emerson. Emerson was inducted in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.


Elvis Presley appeared on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana. Also featured tonight were Johnny Horton, David Houston. Also on the bill: Jimmy Newman, Jack Ford, Buddy Attaway, Buzz Busby and the Bayou Boys, Jeanette Hicks, Betty Amos, and many others.


Elvis Presley reportedly played an engagement at Sie's Place in Biloxi, Mississippi. This may have been an impromptu walk-on for Elvis Presley at a club he was merely visiting. At this time he was booked at Biloxi and Keesler Air Force Base, but he often went out after-hours to check on the competition. A return visit to Biloxi was a well-paying bonus enterprise, at $300 per date for the regular shows, Elvis picked up additional money with two late shows at the Hambone Club.

On the very early morning of November 9, local residents in Houlka could see a pink Cadillac parked at the gas station, waiting for it to open. Two feet were sticking out of one of the rear windows, as Elvis took a nap while they were waiting.

According to Pat Lally, who had not only been at the March 25 Dermott show, but also brought Elvis to her home for a teenage party, ''My father worked at Keesler. Some of the boys I went to school with called and asked if I wanted to go and see the show. And we are out there jitterbugging, it was a dance, and we were dancing, and the music got slower and slower, and he was up on the stage, and we made eye contact, and suddenly he comes running up to me, and I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest, and I thought, Oh my God, he remembers me, and he came up to me and said, 'How is your mother'? And I thought he remembered Me'!

The airmen were allowed to bring dates. No officers were admitted. The program ran sixty to ninety minutes, with an intermission.

''The Cherry Girls'' returned for another visit, again after seeing him backstage the night before. They followed him to the Hambone Club. It was a place for country music, it had a liquor license, but Elvis had nothing stronger than a 7UP. Elvis went dancing with one of the girls. He had noticed her the night before, wearing a strapless dress, but whereas she liked his singing, she was in no way impressed by his dancing.


Elvis Presley performed two benefit shows for the Daily Herald's Doll and Toy Fund to buy Christmas gifts for needy children in Biloxi, Mississippi. The performances at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m. were held at the Community House and were also sponsored by the local Lion's Club. There was a dance following Elvis' two-and-a-half hour evening appearance. Also on the bill were Ernie Chafin, Eddie Camp, Dan Seals, Jim Owen, Betty Ashley (of nearby Pascagoula), and others.


Elvis Presley took his show to Keesler Air Force Base (outside), Biloxi Mississippi. It was reported that Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins played Amory, Mississippi, about this time. Carl Perkins and Charlie Boren, disc jockey and show promoter in Amory, recall that Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Gene Simmons played Amory.

Johnny Cash opened the show with excellent versions of "Cry, Cry, Cry" and "Hay Porter". After acknowledging the applause, Cash continued with traditional country songs.

Carl Perkins was the next act, and he sang "Let The Jukebox Keep On Playing" and "Gone, Gone, Gone". The former was a hillbilly song, while the latter was classic rockabilly. The audience loved it. When Elvis Presley came out to finish the show, he took up the challenge offered by his Sun Records cronies. He did ten songs over the course of the next hour in a set that left the audience in ecstasy. Elvis Presley received the loudest applause of the evening, and the crowd left delighted with the show.

It was at the same concert in Amory that Carl Perkins showed the music for "Blue Suede Shoes" to Elvis Presley. Perkins even said to Presley that he wrote "Blue Suede Shoes" the song on the back of a potato sack while at home in Jackson. (Perkins also said that he wrote "Blue Suede Shoes" following an appearance with Elvis Presley in Parkin, Arkansas). As Carl Perkins sang the song for Elvis Presley, Presley paid close attention to the way it flowed, later allowing him to record one of the most soulful and commercial versions of "Blue Suede Shoes" - modelled on Carl Perkins' demonstration performance! Indeed, after Elvis Presley first heard "Blue Suede Shoes", he told Ronald Smith that he felt like the song had been written for him, so taken with it was he.

According to Boren, the package cost him $600, of which Elvis Presley received less than $200, which would seem to date the show prior to late 1955 and certainly earlier than January 1956.

There are no notice for this appearance in the Keesler News. The previous June, when Elvis Presley visited Keesler AFB, he played the Airmen's Club, and it may be presumed that he returned to the same club this time.

Johnny Cash suggests that Carl Perkins write a song based on a saying he had heard in the chow line while he was in the service, "don't step on my blue suede shoes". A few nights later Carl Perkins is playing in Jackson, Tennessee and he sees a dancer in the crowd trying to keep his girlfriend away from his new blue suede shoes. It connects with the idea that Cash had given him. At 3 o'clock the following morning, Carl Perkins awakes with the genesis of the song in his head. He goes downstairs and writes out the lyrics in pencil on an empty potato bag. "Suede" is spelled "Swaed".


Louisiana Hayride Star Booked for Club

Elvis Presley, 20 year-old vocalist from the Louisiana Hayride show, is slated for personal appearances at the Airmen's Mess next Monday and Tuesday from 6 to 10 p.m.

Presley's success has been attributed to the fact that he offers his country music in the fastest selling style available and appeals to crowds of all ages.

He came upon his career quite by accident when a recording manager heard him making a personal record. He immediately signed Presley to a singing contract and some of his following recordings of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky", "That's All Right Mama", Good Rockin' Tonight". Presley also does a number of novel and rhythmic tunes on his show that he has not recorded. Providing accompaniment for the singer is Scotty Moore on the hot guitar and Bill Black thumping the bass.


Elvis Presley played the Airmen's Club at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. When Elvis Presley arrived in Biloxi, he found himself a cheap motel room. The six nights at the Airmen's Club paid only $85, so Scotty Moore and Bill Black had returned to Memphis, leaving Elvis Presley to play the engagement as a solo act.

Actually, it was much like playing the Eagle's Nest in Memphis. As Elvis Presley into the bar he with Jim Russell, the person who had booked the previous week's act, Bill Bennett.

Russell, who had recently moved to New Orleans from Pittsburgh, was a thirty-six-year-old disc jockey/promoter who had once worked with Alan Freed. Upon his arrival in New Orleans, Russell had founded his booking agency, making some extra money diverting acts from nightclubs, dance halls and auditoriums to Airmen's Clubs like the one in Biloxi.

"I'll never forget Elvis when he walked into the Airmen's Club", Russel remarked, "he looked and dressed poor". Jim Russell lent Elvis Presley five dollars so he could buy some food. "Elvis complained that he lacked good management", Russell remembered, "he hinted around to me about managing him. I turned him down cold". There were eighteen people at the Airmen's Club that night, and Russell recalls that only four of them sat directly in front of the stage and watched Elvis Presley perform. "There were two tables playing cards and another group at the pool table. The four girls in the club watched Elvis, I should have known then what he had", Russell chuckled.

While he was in Biloxi, Elvis Presley spent the week with June Juanico. Elvis Presley had met Juanico on June 26, 1955, during a previous Biloxi show. She was a singer, dancer, and model who had the same show business aspirations as Elvis Presley. They spent an idyllic week. As they rode horses and went swimming, Elvis Presley unburdened himself to her. He was wary about the future success of his career, and he again complained about his management. Elvis Presley was especially needful, as he had just learned that Bob Neal had been involved in an auto accident. The record deal with RCA was still up in the air, and Presley's nerves were shot. "I never saw anyone so insecure", Jim Russell recalled. "That boy had a lot on his mind". Russell remembers that Elvis felt all but abandoned by Parker. "If I had realized how close the Colonel was to a recording deal, I would have moved in on Elvis", Russell lamented.

Howard DeWitt's Elvis: The Sun Years is the source for information on this six-day stint. DeWitt even mentions a supporting act, Bill Bennett, a disc jockey at New Orleans' WTIX. According to Elvis: The Sun Years, Jim Russell of New Orleans promoted the date. DeWitt discusses this stand in great detail, noting that Elvis Presley was scheduled to play at Keesler AFB, Biloxi, Mississippi, all six nights for a total of $85. This didn't leave any money for Scotty Moore and Bill Black so they went back to Memphis. According to Russell, Elvis Presley "looked and dressed poor", "lacked good management", and only drew eighteen people the first night. This just does not sound like any Elvis performance in the Biloxi area in late 1955.

(Above) Andrew Jackson Hotel, opened in August of 1925 on the east side of Memorial Plaza on the corner of 314 Sixth Avenue North and Deaderick Street in Nashville, Tennessee.

The massive brick structure boasted 400 guest rooms. In 1971 the hotel was demolished to make room for the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and the James K. Polk State Office Building.


On November 10, 1955, Elvis Presley left Memphis with Bob Neal and drove to Nashville for the Annual Country And Western Music Disc Jockey Convention at the Andrew Jackson Hotel 231 6th Avenue North.

From Florida, Mae Boren Axton drove to Nashville with a new song in hand, "Heartbreak Hotel", a tune co-written with Tom Durden after he had read a poignant newspaper article in the Miami Herald. Under with a headline: "Do You Know This Man?" was a story describing the suicide of a man who had scrawled a one-line note before his death: "I walk a lonely street". The line became the lyrical focal point for "Heartbreak Hotel", and it was not long before the song was a crucial part of Elvis Presley's contract talks with RCA.

A friend of Mae Boren Axton, Colonel Tom Parker had hired her as a publicist during a number of Hank Snow's tours. She had also been responsible for booking Elvis Presley in Jacksonville, Florida, a number of times. "Mae was a well-known and respected figure in the music business", Johnny Tillotson remarked, "it was only natural for her to approach Elvis Presley with "Heartbreak Hotel".

Axton had witnessed the reaction to Elvis' music, and realized that Elvis Presley held the ticket to great wealth. Johnny Tillotson remembers how excited Axton was over the prospect of Presley recording her song. "She realized early on", Tillotson remarked, "that Presley was going to be a huge act".

By the time Axton brought "Heartbreak Hotel" to Nashville, a demo of the song had already been turned down by the Wilburn Brothers. They thought it was weird.

After listening to country singer Glenn Reeves'(1) demo tape of the tune, Elvis Presley told Axton that he loved it. As Elvis Presley practised it, Tom Durden noticed that Presley was copying the demo singer's style exactly. "Elvis was even breathing in the same places that Glenn did on the dub", Durden remarked. "Heartbreak Hotel" was an important song for Elvis Presley; he needed original songs, and it definitely fit his style".

To make sure that this song was right for Elvis Presley, however, Colonel Tom Parker played the demo for a number of music people. They all agreed it was excellent. The Colonel wasn't convinced, and Mae Axton and Tom Durden were about to take the song elsewhere when Glenn Reeves convinced Parker that the song had enormous commercial potential. The Colonel believed that Reeves had an ear for hit songs and the deal was consummated. To sweeten the deal, Axton and Durden agreed to give Elvis Presley a share of the songwriting credits, a common practice in the music industry in the 1950s. Although Elvis Presley didn't pen one word of this tune, the fact that Mae Axton went so far as to offer Elvis Presley a third of the songwriting credits if he would record it helped increase Colonel Tom Parker's enthusiasm for the song.

For his part, the deal made Elvis Presley nervous because he prided himself on his artistic integrity. Colonel Parker was proving to be too manipulative even at this early point in Presley's career, pressing Elvis Presley to record songs that would add to his royalties. To woo his singer, Colonel Parker expressed confidence that "Heartbreak Hotel" had a special quality, musically speaking; the real reason behind his interest in the song was the extra royalty money that Elvis Presley would collect. In the end, Elvis Presley accepted the Colonel's plea that they had to work with songwriters who would allow them to share in the royalties.

As significant as the drama surrounding the acquisition of "Heartbreak Hotel" for Elvis Presley was, the RCA deal overshadowed the events of the day. As negotiations over the song went on quietly and without fanfare, there were rumours everywhere at the Andrew Jackson Hotel that Elvis Presley was about to sign the most lucrative recording contract in history, rumours which would obscure the fact that the deal Colonel Tom Parker negotiated for his young protege was really rather average.

"Hot dog, Mae, play it again", recalled Bob Neal, "and she played "Heartbreak Hotel" it over and over, it was really different, a little like Roy Brown's "Hard Luck Blues", only this was about a hotel, a heartbreak hotel, where the bellhop's tears kept flowing and the desk clerk was dressed in black. He knew the whole song before he left the room. 'That's gonna be my next record", he said.


Elvis did very well in Billboard's annual disc jockey poll. He was ranked number 1 in the "Most Promising Country and Western Artist" category, number 13 in the "Most Played Country and Western Artist" listing, and number 16 in both the "Favorite Country and Western Artist" and "Favorite Country and Western Records" (for "Baby Let's Play House") categories.

Following a non-singing appearance in the two-day annual country music disk jockey convention in Nashville, Elvis Presley took an early morning flight to Memphis. While in Nashville, he received awards from Billboard as the nation's "Most Outstanding" new country star, from Cash Box as country music's "Up-Ann-Coming Star of the Year", and from Country Music Jamboree magazine as the "New Star of the Year. After staying only a short time at his home, he, along with Scotty Moore and Bill Black, left Memphis in his pink Cadillac.

At 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon, Elvis Presley and an otherwise unidentified a group of entertainers from the Louisiana Hayride made a two-hour appearance in Carthage, Texas, at the Carthage Milling Company as part of the festivities surrounding the feed mill's grand opening. Boasting the motto "feed designed with stock in mind", the mill was located on US Highway 79, just on the other side of the Carthage's eastern city limits. According to John Neal, one of the mill's original owners, Elvis Presley arrived in his pink Cadillac. The stage, such as it was, had been set up on the loading dock of the mill. As the show began, there were problems with the portable loudspeaker, and the sheriff volunteered the use of his car, which had a public address system installed. So, the sheriff's patrol car was backed up to the dock, and the show went on as scheduled. Elvis Presley was paid $300, with another $50 going to the Hayride booking agency. The Hayride had originally asked for $400 for Elvis Presley, but Neal stood fast on his offer. Elvis Presley was not even the first choice for the mill's grand opening. Neal had wanted to hire the Light Crust Dough Boys, a popular western swing band. However, when he contacted the Light Crust organization, he was told that the band had just gone on their winter hiatus. Elvis' name was suggested to Neal by his daughter, Joanne, who was an avid Hayride fan. The mill was destroyed in a spectacular fire in 1967 that also consumed about 15,000 bushels of feed.


Article in the Memphis Press-Scimitar, November 12, 1955 that read:
Elvis Presley Back With New Popularity Honors

Elvis Presley, Memphis sensation with country music fans, got off a plane from Nashville at the Airport early today with two scrolls and a plaque in his pocket, souvenirs of a rare triple-victory.

Billboard magazine, standard of the radio industries, named Presley ''most outstanding new artist of 1955'' in a scroll presented at the Country Music Disc Jockey's convention in Nashville.

''Up-and-Coming Star''

Hardly had the applause died when Cash Box magazine had Presley's names on its scroll for ''Up-and-Coming Star of the Year'', result of a nationwide vote by disc jockeys and juke box agents.

And then Country-Western Jamboree, another trade mag. revealed that Presley got 250,000 votes in its readers poll and was picked as winner of the ''New Star of the Tear'' plaque.

Presley, only 20, had a rare few hours at home this morning with his folks at 1414 Getwell. At 10 a.m., the Humes High School grad winged away to Shreveport, Louisiana, for his regular Louisianan Hayride show. But he'll be back in Memphis by dawn.

Tomorrow Presley, Country Song Roundup's No. 9 folk artist in popularity and the only young star in the top group, makes one of his few local appearances at the Western Swing Jamboree Auditorium, 3 and 8 p.m.

Sun Records

Elvis records for Sun Records of Memphis, whose president Sam Phillips, discovered his talent, and is managed by Bob Neal, WMPS disc jockey, who is staging tomorrow's shows.

Hank Thompson and the Brazos Valley Boys, Carl Smith of Grand Ol' Opry and the Tunesmiths, Charlene Arthur of Big D Jamboree and Carl Perkins, a newcomer from Jackson, Tennessee, will be among other stars at the local jamboree.

Later that day, Elvis Presley was easily able to make his regular spot on the Louisiana Hayride, as the distance from Carthage to Shreveport is only 45 miles. The special guest on the Hayride this evening was Jimmy Day, a former member of the Hayride's house band and an Abbott recording artist. Day had been touring regularly with Elvis Presley throughout much of 1955. When Elvis Presley walked onto the stage at the "Hayride", Elvis Presley had more energy than any two performers. "I never saw anything like the frenetic performing skills of Elvis", Tommy Sands remembered, "and when I found out he finished a two-hour drive before walking on stage I was amazed".

Sands remembered that Elvis Presley talked about finishing his Carthage show with "Uncle Pen". "Elvis wanted to give the country folks what they wanted", Sands remembered, "and he glowed when he told me how the Carthage crowd clapped for his last song".

According to Lloyd Ozment, ''...a short time later, I drove down Greenwood Road. I spotted that pink Cadillac of Elvis' at a red light. I pulled up beside it.

Bill Black and Scotty Moore were inside; I yelled over to them, 'What are you all doing here'? Bill said to me, he was looking for the airport to pick up Elvis. I told them to follow me, and I joined them there to wait for Elvis. As Elvis came off the plane, he was dressed in a pink corduroy outfit that he wore many times at the Hayride performances. Elvis spoke to me and remembered me instantly. Elvis asked, 'Lloyd what are you doing here'? I replied, 'Bill and Scotty were lost and could not find the airport, so I brought them here'. Elvis said, 'That's great, Lloyd, because I have to be in Longview for a performance in a short time, and I appreciate your help. My performance is either in a gymnasium or on the back of a wagon, now we have to find that. Do you want to help us find that too'''?

Lloyd regrettably had to decline, as he was with his 16-year-old date, and he and Elvis agreed that her parents might not appreciate that.


Returning to Memphis at dawn, Elvis Presley headlined two shows at 3:00 and 8:00 p.m. at the "Western Swing Jamboree" held at Ellis Auditorium. These shows were to say "good-bye" to Texas Bill Strength of KWEM radio, who was leaving Memphis for KEYD in Minneapolis.

Also on the bill were Hank Thompson, Carl Smith, Charlene Arthur, Carl Perkins and "Poor Old Richard" (presumably local disc jockey Dick Stewart). Tickets for the event were $1.25 in advance. It was in the course of these shows that Elvis Presley sang "Satisfied" in an impromptu backstage duet with Charlene Arthur.

Charline Arthur dated Elvis Presley for a few weeks during this period. Arthur, a buxom, exciting performer, had a gospel-influenced voice. She was also quite different from Elvis' other dates. Unlike the quiet, demure girls that Elvis Presley preferred, Arthur was a woman with a mind of her own, something that made a permanent relationship with Elvis Presley impossible. During the this late 1955 farewell performance for Texas Bill Strength of KWEM - Strength was taking a job in Minneapolis, where, as Strength told the audience, he would introduce the Yankees to real country music - Elvis Presley and Charline Arthur parted company.

TEXAS BILL STRENGTH – Born on August 28, 1928, Houston, Texas and t he earliest mention we've found of "Texas" Bill Strength was in the May 1946 issue of National Hillbilly News in a brief write up by long-time Ernest Tubb Fan Club President, Norma Winton. At that time, he had just finished working at KFEQ in St. Joseph, Missouri. His popularity was such over KFEQ that he was being sponsored over 17 other radio stations at that time.

Ms. Barthel tells the readers that Bill's radio performing career started at a station in Houston, Texas - KTHT - back in 1944. She mentions he had been at a few other stations since that time and had moved to KSOO in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A 1949 article tells us that Bill was just 16 then and had won an amateur contest at the Joy Theatre.

A representative from KTHT happened to be present and decided to give Bill his first radio job. In remembering that episode, Bill was quoted, "My Mother thought for sure I was dying, and I can't say what the old man said''.

In those early days, Texas Bill was also writing tunes such as "There's Always Two to Blame", "I'm Lonely Since You've Gone" and "You've Left Me Behind" were several of the tunes Ms. Barthel tells the readers he had written up to that point and "...many more''.

During this part of his career, Texas Bill got to meet his hero so to speak, Ernest Tubb during one of Ernest's personal appearances. In fact, Norma Barthel mentions he was quite good about promoting Ernest and his records and even mentions that he was a "...young fellow with a voice that sounds remarkably like Ernest Tubb, especially when singing one of Ernest's songs''.

In the latter part of 1946, Floy Case reported in her column that he had a six piece western band and doing personal appearance in the Missouri and Kansas area. She noted that Bill was "...doing all right for himself in this hillbilly biz." She also mentions that he had penned a couple of new tunes, "The Rose of My Heart" and "Who's Gonna Love Me Now".

Norma wrote of Texas Bill again in the July 1946 issue of National Hillbilly News in two of her columns - one was "Just Driftin'" where she notes that he was working in Colorado and making personal appearances throughout the area. In her "Radio Programs and Cowboys" column in the same issue, she provides a snippet of the type of tunes he was singing back then. She mentions that Texas Bill had presented her with a special recording, that became a treasured memento to her. He recorder her favorite tune at the time, "Yesterday's Tears"and then followed that up with several of his own song writing efforts, "Please Don't Ever Forget Me" and "Louisiana Lou". But he may have been longing for his southern roots as Norma notes he was talking about the cold weather and how hard it was for a southern boy to cope with it. While he may have complained about it, he was doing well at the time and was the envy of Norma being able to work there for she was a native of the state.

But by the end of 1946, his career had taken him to Memphis, Tennessee, based on a letter to the editors of National Hillbilly News that listed his PO Box as being in Memphis. In fact, the January 1947 issue reports in Arlie Kinkade's column, "This, That 'n the Other" that he was working at WHHD.

Interestingly, we found another article in the December 1946 issue of Mountain Broadcast and Prairie Recorder by one of country music's earliest journalists, Floy Case, who tells readers that Norma Winton, president of Ernest Tubb's Fan Club and publisher of the newsletter, Melody Trails, had started her own band and it was called, the "Melody Trail Riders". The "...singing emcee..." Ms. Case tells us was Texas Bill Strength, who she described as "...a young fellow who seems to be going places in a hurry." Bill and the group were playing dates in the eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas areas.

In January of 1947, Ms. Case wrote that Bill was one fellow that "...gets around", going from Texas to South Dakota and Colorado. She mentions she had known he was working as part of Norma Winton's band, the Melody Trail Riders out of Ft. Smith, Arkansas but had since formed his own band, the "Ranch Ramblers" and was working regularly at the Rainbow Gardens in Memphis, Tennessee. She, like many of the columnists back then who also dabbled in song writing, then segues into mentioning that Bill had been plugging a song she had written with Jimmie Davis, "I'm Beginning to Forget You" that had also been recorded by Ernest Tubb. A 1952 article mentions that in 1947, Bill toured with several large road shows then and did stints at KMYR in Denver, KSOO in Sioux Falls, KMA in Shenandoah, Iowa and KRLD in Dallas, Texas.

A 1951 article in Cowboy Songs magazine tells us that Bill had gone back to Houston and had a daily program over radio station KATL. In addition to his disc jockey chores, he immersed himself with personal appearances in the Houston area. Around that time, Foremost Dairies offered Bill a fifteen month contract with a new 5,000 watt station, KLEE. However, the contract did not deter his night club work which included the Houston Hoedown Club along with a nightly broadcast over station KNUZ, another Houston station.

September of 1949 found Bill in Birmingham, Alabama doing daily radio programs at WRBC, which was a bit of a network of 37 stations throughout Alabama. In late 1949, Bill's career had taken him back to Houston, Texas. Tex Moon wrote in his "Southwestern Round-Up" column for National Hillbilly News that Bill was one of the mainstays at a new venue in Houston where it was said, "The Best Bands of All Come to Hillbilly Hall" along with others such as Floyd Tillman, Hank Lockwood, Leon Payne, Benny Leaders, Pete Hunter, the Texas Cowboys, Woody Carter and others.

In 1950, Bill's career took another turn, this time as part of the staff for the labor organization, CIO on January 15, 1950. During that time, he was doing radio transcriptions with George Baldanzi, then Executive VP of the Textile Workers Union of America and National Director of the CIO Organizing Committee. The transcriptions were aired over 126 stations. At that time, the CIO had over 6.5 million members, so Texas Bill and his record label, 4-Star Records, took advantage of that and created a slogan for Bill, "...the Boy with 6
and a half million sponsors''.

The 1951 Cowboy Songs article notes that Bill was such a hit with his CIO bit that he logged over 57,000 miles of traveling on tours, personal appearances as well as visiting those in hospitals and institutions as well as hi attendance at union meetings and conventions for the CIO. Impressively, it was said that he entertained upwards of a quarter million people at each of those conventions. Like many artists, Bill shared the stage with many of the mainstays of country music in that era. But Bill also got to entertain some well-known political figures of the era due to his work with the CIO, including Vice President Alben Barkley, Senator Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota; Congressman Christopher of Missouri and Maurice Tobin, Secretary of Labor.

Some of the more well known venues he appeared at were the Palmer House in Chicago, the "world's largest auditorium" in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the Hotel Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah; the National Training School for Boys, Washington, DC; the Hudson Manor in Tampa, Florida and also KWKH's Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport.

By 1951, he had appeared five times on WSM's Grand Ole Opry, appearing with his friend Ernest Tubb.

In 1951, he was living in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and two children. He had made several appearances over WAGA-TV in Atlanta.

A June 1954 article mentions that Bill had a daily show from 11:00am to 12:45pm over radio station WEAS in Decatur, Georgia. In another summer 1954 article in Country Song Roundup's Fifth Anniversary Issue which featured spotlights on disc jockeys from around the country, they offered the reader a couple of quotes attributed to Texas Bill that give us perhaps some insight into music and his career: "...I have taken it for granted that it is the only business that I should be in. Within these ten years, I have been associated with many types of people who tell a story. Some tell their story in a speech, others in books, and yet, there are people who can better tell a story in song. ... and I guess that's why I've been inspired to since my boyhood, to tell my story in a song''.

''In addition to music being a part of my daily life, I think it is one of the most gratifying things that could ever happen to an artist. Why? Because when I make other people happy with a song, either on a show date or by playing records on my D.J. shows, I feel that I am reaching my goal, I'm living Country Music!"

Around 1953 or so, Bill was doing his recordings on Capitol Records. He was being featured over station KEYD (later known as KEVE) out of Minneapolis, MN and did personal appearances across the country.

In 1956, he was doing tour dates in the Kentucky and Ohio areas, appearing with such acts as The Carlisles, Ferlin Husky, Martha Carson among others.

A May 1956 article appears to be promoting his efforts with Capitol Records at the time along with the inauguration of the new country music programming at KEYD. The station's staff at that time also included another country singer, Johnny "T" (Johnny Talley). The article also mentions that Bill's wardrobe for his personal appearances was valued at over $3,200.

A May 1956 article mentions that Bill had appeared on the Midwestern Hayride over WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio as well as on programs hosted by such stars as Pee Wee King and Red Foley (the Ozark Jubilee). That same article told readers that in a voters poll, Bill ranked number 50 out of over 1,800 disc jockeys nationwide.

The December 1956 issue of Country & Western Jamboree included the results of various fan polls they had taken. One result was that Texas Bill Strength finishing number three behind such other disc jockey legends as T. Tommy Cutrer and Don Larkin as "Favorite Local Radio Disc Jockey". That list also included other legends that would be in the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame, Randy Blake and Bill Mack.

He appeared on the cover of the June 1954 issue of Cowboy Songs, as one of three artists featured in the issue. In May 1956, he was the featured artist on the cover of Cowboy Songs. Country & Western Jamboree magazine featured him on the cover of their July 1956 issue but only devoted a few short paragraphs to Bill inside but did at least mention he was the number one rated Disc Jockey in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.

In 1990, Texas Bill Strength was elected to the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame.

In August of 1973, Texas Bill Strength was asleep in a car while driving with a friend on a promotional tour. Their car left the road and flipped several times. Texas Bill was paralyzed from the waist down and later slipped into a coma. He passed away in October 1, 1973.

CHARLINE ARTHUR - The daughter of a Pentecostal preacher, born Charline Highsmith on September 2, 1929, in Henrietta, Texas, began singing in church while she was in school. At the age of seven, she earned enough money collecting empty bottles to buy a guitar for six dollars. Influenced by the hardcore honky tonk of Ernest Tubb, she wrote her first song, "I've Got the Boogie Blues'', when she was 12. By the time she was a teenager, she was performing on a local Texas radio show. Arthur won a spot on a traveling medicine show in the mid-1940s, yet her parents refused to let her leave home. She countered by marrying Jack Arthur, who would later play bass on her records.

In the late 1940s, she began singing in honky tonks and nightclubs across Texas, which eventually led to a single with Bullet Records, "I've Got the Boogie Blues"/"Is Love a Game''. After she recorded the single, she and Jack moved to Kermit, Texas, where she was hired by a radio station as a disc jockey. Soon, Charline assembled a band. Performing in local clubs and the radio, Arthur gained a fan base. In 1950, she recorded a single for the small label Imperial. During this time, Eddy Arnold and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, heard Arthur perform.

Impressed with what they heard, they directed Julian and Gene Aberbach, owners of the Hill and Range music publishing company, toward the singer. The pair signed her to a publishing deal and landed her a contract with RCA Records in 1953.

Arthur made her first record for RCA early in 1953, recording with session musicians who included Floyd Cramer and Chet Atkins. Her contract with RCA led her to appearances with the Louisiana Hayride, the Big D Jamboree, and the Ozark Jubilee. During this time, she frequently performed on the same stage as Elvis Presley, whose mother was a big fan of Arthur. All of her performances were gaining her acclaim, in 1955, she was the runner-up to Kitty Wells in Country & Western Jamboree magazine's DJ poll.

However, things weren't going smoothly for Arthur. Although she appeared on the "Prince Albert" portion of the Grand Ole Opry, her material was frequently rejected on the grounds it was too racy. At RCA, Chet Atkins followed Steve Sholes as her record producer, and the two musicians could not get along. Furthermore, she was having no success with any of her records. After her contract expired at the end of 1956, she left RCA for Colin, but she had a similar lack of success there. Shortly after her record label switch, she parted ways with her husband, Jack.

Charline formed a trio with her sisters, Betty Sue and Dottie, but the teaming was unsuccessful. By 1960, she was broke. Arthur moved to Salt Lake City, where she met Ray Pellum, a nightclub and record label owner who landed her a regular singing job in Chubbuck, Idoha. During this time, she also recorded for his Eldorado label. In 1965, Arthur headed out to California. Between 1965 and 1978, she recorded for three small labels, Rustic, Wytra, and Republic, with Alice M. Michaels as her manager. Suffering from debilitating arthritis, she went back to Idaho in 1979, and stayed there until her death in 1987. Charline Arthur lived long enough to see her RCA material reissued by Germany's Bear Family Records in 1986.

HANK THOMPSON - Hank Thompson was perhaps the most popular Western swing musician of the 1950s and 1960s, keeping the style alive with a top-notch band, tremendous showmanship, and a versatility that allowed him to expand his repertoire into romantic ballads and hardcore honky tonk numbers.

Born September 3, 1925, in Waco, Texas, Henry William Thompson was the son of immigrants from Bohemia and grew up idolizing Western swing and country musicians like Bob Wills, Jimmie Rodgers, and Gene Autry.

He began learning harmonica and guitar as a child, and appeared in local talent shows as a teenager, which eventually led to his own local radio program (billed as Hank the Hired Hand).

After graduating from high school in 1943, Thompson joined the Navy as a radio technician and often wrote songs to entertain his fellow soldiers. Following his discharge, Thompson studied electrical engineering at Princeton through the G.I. Bill, but eventually decided to pursue music as a career.

He returned to Waco and to the radio business, and set about putting together a band he dubbed the Brazos Valley Boys. They quickly became a popular live act around the area and recorded their first single, "Whoa Sailor" (a song Thompson had written in the Navy) for the Globe label in 1946. A few more singles followed for Bluebonnet, by which time Tex Ritter had become a Thompson admirer. Ritter helped Thompson land a record deal with Capitol in 1947, an association that would last for the next 18 years.

Thompson scored his first major hit for Capitol in 1949 with the smash "Humpty Dumpty Heart," the biggest of his six charting singles that year. In 1951, he hooked up with producer Ken Nelson, who would helm many of his most successful records. Those records included "The Wild Side of Life," a monster hit from 1952 (over three months at number one) that became Thompson's signature song. Its cynical attitude inspired an answer record by Kitty Wells called "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," which made her the first female artist in country music history with a million-selling record. Thompson continued to score hit after hit during the 1950s, including 21 songs that reached the Top 20 on the country charts and five Top Tens in the year 1954 alone. A savvy promoter, Thompson devised a number of ways to make himself stand out from the crowd (even past his suave cowboy wardrobe): his early-1950s television show in Oklahoma City was the first variety show broadcast in color and he was the first country artist to tour with a sound and lighting system (put together using his Navy and collegiate experience), the first to receive corporate sponsorship, and the first to record in high-fidelity stereo. He also gave early breaks to musicians like guitar legend Merle Travis and female rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson. Toward the end of the 1950s, Thompson began to create LPs that were more cohesive than just mere collections of singles plus filler; 1958's Dance Ranch and 1959's Songs for Rounders were Western swing/honky tonk masterpieces, especially the latter, which stirred up controversy with its groundbreakingly adult (some said decadent) lyrical content. In 1961, Thompson recorded the first live album ever released in the history of country music, the classic At the Golden Nugget.

After that burst of inspired creativity, Thompson's luck began to change: the public's taste was moving toward slick country-pop and the electrified Bakersfield sound and despite several more fine records, Thompson's relationship with Capitol ended in 1965. He first moved to Warner Bros., then ABC/Dot in 1968 (which became part of MCA in 1970). Thompson continued to record and tour and his singles charted regularly during the 1970s all the way up to 1983, though he never matched the level of success he'd enjoyed in the 1950s and early 1960s. Even after the hits dried up, Thompson maintained a demanding concert tour schedule, playing all over the world. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989.

Thompson died November 6, 2007, following a battle with lung cancer.

CARL SMITH - Known as Mr. Country, Carl Smith was one of the most popular honky tonkers of the 1950s, racking up over 30 Top Ten hits over the course of the decade. Smith was also able to sustain that popularity into the late 1970s, during which time he had a charting single for every year except one. Smith had a talent for singing smooth ballads which polished the rough edges of hardcore country.

Nevertheless, he could sing pure honky tonk with the best of them, and his hardest country was made tougher by the addition of a drum kit.

Smith was one of the very first country artists to regularly perform with a drummer, and though it earned him criticism at the time, the hard-driving sound of those up-tempo numbers proved to be influential.

Smith also occasionally dabbled in Western swing, and as he continued to record, he delved deeper into the genre. Since he specialized in honky tonk ballads and Western swing, Smith rarely crossed over into the pop audience.

Still, he was one of the most popular and best-known country singers of his era, recording several classics, including "Let's Live a Little," "Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way," "This Orchard Means Goodbye," "Cut Across Shorty," "Loose Talk," "(When You Feel Like You're in Love) Don't Just Stand There," and "Hey Joe!", appearing in a handful of movies, and hosting his own television show. By the time he retired in the early 1980s, he had hit the country charts nearly 100 times.

Smith was born and raised in Maynardsville, Tennessee, which was also the hometown of Roy Acuff. As a child, Smith idolized Acuff, Ernest Tubb, and Bill Monroe. When he was a teenager, he taught himself how to play guitar. According to legend, he bought his first guitar with money he earned by selling flower seeds. At the age of 15, he was singing in the San Francisco-based country band Kitty Dibble and Her Dude Ranch Ranglers. Two years later, he learned to play string bass and spent his summer vacation working at WROL, a radio station in Knoxville. After Smith finished high school, he briefly served in the U.S. Navy before heading back home.

Once he returned to Tennessee, he continued to perform at WROL, usually playing bass for Skeets Williamson and Molly O'Day. Eventually, he began singing as well, and one of his colleagues at the station sent an acetate of Smith's singing to WSM in Nashville. WSM signed Smith to a contract, and he began working for the station and singing at the Grand Ole Opry. By 1950, Columbia Records signed Smith to a recording contract. His first hit, "Let's Live a Little," arrived in 1951, climbing all the way to number two. Over the course of the year, he racked up no less than three other hits, including the classic "If Teardrops Were Pennies" and his first number one single, "Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way." Also that year, he married June Carter, the daughter of Maybelle Carter; the two would later divorce, yet they had a daughter named Carlene that would become a musician in her own right during the '70s.

Throughout the 1950s, Smith was a consistent presence in the country charts, racking up no less than 31 Top Ten singles during the course of the decade. In addition to recording, he began appearing in Western movies, like 1957's The Badge of Marshal Brennan. In 1956, he resigned from the Grand Ole Opry and joined a package tour organized by Philip Morris. In 1957, he married country singer Goldie Hill, best-known for the number one hit "I Let the Stars Get in My Eyes."

As the 1950s ended, Smith was no longer as dominant in the upper reaches of the country charts as he was earlier in the decade, but he never stopped having hits. During the 1960s, he consistently charted in the Top 40, which was indicative of his status as a country music statesman. In 1961, he appeared on ABC's country television series, Four Star Jubilee, and a few years later, he began hosting Carl Smith's Country Music Hall for Canadian television; the series also was syndicated in America. Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, he began to incorporate more Western swing into his repertoire, especially on his albums. Smith continued to release albums and singles on Columbia Records until 1975, when he signed with Hickory. After having a handful of minor hits for the label -- including several that were released on ABC/Hickory, he decided to retire in the late 1970s.

Though he recorded an album of his greatest hits in the early 1980s, Smith retreated from the spotlight after his 1979 retirement. He and his wife, Goldie, lived on their horse farm outside of Franklin, Tennessee, and the two began to show horses professionally during the course of the decade. He died in 2005.


An article in the Forrest City Daily Times, November 11, 1955 says, Shriners To Present Big Show Monday:
Some of the top entertainers of the Mid-South will be presented in a big show here Monday night with two shows slated at the Forrest City High School auditorium, the first beginning at 7 p.m. and the second show at 9:15 p.m.

Sponsors of the country western show is the Crowley Ridge Shrine Club. Proceeds will be used in the charitable projects of the club, according to A.A. Bratcher, president of the club.

Elvis Presley, the King of Western Bop, and Hank Thompson, the King of Western Swing, will top the billing of the show, which will also feature numerous other entertaining events during the show.

Because of the tremendous popularity of the stars of the show, arrangements have been made to present two shows so that everyone will have the opportunity to see these performers, Mr. Bratcher said.


Elvis Presley, Hank Thompson, and the other entertainers from the previous night's performance, minus Carl Smith, played two shows, at 7:00 and 9:15 p.m., at the Forrest City High School Auditorium in Forrest City, Arkansas. Tickets for adults were $1.00 in advance and $1.25 at the door. Children were admitted for 50-cents. The show was benefit for projects sponsored by the Crowley Ridge Shrine Club, including the annual Crippled Children's Christmas party.

Undoubtedly in response to Harry Kalcheim's suggestion of two weeks before, and despite the fact that the deal with RCA has yet to come together, the Colonel informs the William Morris agent that he would be "interested in making a picture with this boy. However, we must be very careful to expose him in a manner befitting his personality, which is something like the James Dean situation." Two days later he will elaborate further, wondering if Warner Brothers may have shelved plans for any James Dean pictures for which his boy might be suited. "Believe me," he informs Kalcheim, "if you ever follow one of my hunches, follow up on this one and you won't go wrong." He adds that he already has three tentative coast-tocoast television appearances for Elvis which would appear, on the evidence, to have been tentative indeed.


Elvis Presley, Hank Thompson and the rest of the group performed two shows, at 7:00 and 9:30 p.m., at the Community Center in Sheffield, Alabama. Tickets were $1.00 before the show and $1.25 at the door. Children under twelve were 50-cents. The show was sponsored by the Sheffield Jaycees.

On Tuesday, November 15, Sam Phillips sat down at his desk and started to write a telegram. It was addressed to Colonel Tom Parker in care of radio station WUX in Madison, Tennessee. It read as follows: "Upon receipt of cashiers or certified check in the amount of five thousand dollars not later than midnight tomorrow, Wednesday November 16, we will declare that you have legally picked up the option to purchase the exclusive recording contract of Elvis Presley pursuant to all terms and provisions of the agreement made October 31, 1955 by and between Sun Records Company Incorporated as first party and you, Bob Neal, and other interest parties as second part".

And so ended perhaps the most illustrious and groundbreaking partnership between a record company and an artist in the annals of popular music. The affiliation had barely lasted eighteen months and had brought forth five singles, only one of which had garnered a little action in the country charts.

According to Horace Kimbrough, ''As a member of the Sheffield Alabama Jaycees in 1955, we sponsored a concert in which Elvis appeared. Elvis got an emergency phone call about 20 minutes before the show started, and I wasn't doing anything, so the office said to me, 'Go get Elvis'. The auditorium was packed; Elvis was sitting under the stage, that's where all the musicians tuned up. And I said to him, 'You've got an emergency phone call'. So we got up and went to the auditorium doors, and he looked up at all those people: 'We cannot go out there, they will harm me, and tear my clothes off'. He said, 'Is there another way we can get to that office'? And we went out the back, and we went round the building. The building was built at the level of the street, but it was a low lot. We were in the shadows so nobody could see who we were, but there was a line two blocks long, waiting on the next show. The first hadn't started. Elvis said, 'We can't go into that crowd, is there any other way to get to the front'? There was a window to the office, I could just about reach it with my hands. So I made a step with my hands, and he climbed in the window, I had to give him a little push, and took the phone call. And we found out later that it was a little girl he had dated over in Louisiana, and she was about to having a fit to be with him again. Between the first and the second show, we opened the exit doors and had to guard the doors to keep people from coming in. Elvis had parked his car, a pink Cadillac, and there were streetlights there, and he had parked his car under that streetlight. When we opened the doors to let the people out, the girls went for the car. Some were kissing it and others scribbled their initials into the paint. I told Elvis, they are ruining your car, and I said, 'What do you want me to do'? He shook his head. He said, 'This is about the third or fourth time I've had this car painted, the insurance is cancelled, I just have to take that car and have it painted again'''.

It was announced from the stage that Elvis Presley was leaving Sun Records for RCA.

Sam Phillips was on the point of going broke. To be sure, distributors were ordering Elvis Presley records and they were starting to take a little interest in Johnny Cash but they were notoriously slow to pay. They also, had a tendency to pay Elvis Presley records with returned blues records that had no cash value to Phillips. The royalty payments were due and so were the mechanical payments to the Fox agency. The pressing plants wanted payment and there was an unrecouped advance from Chess Records to settle together with a payment to Jud Phillips for a share of Sun. There was a young family to support and a disabled aunt back in Alabama. Sam Phillips was up against the wall. Selling Elvis Presley's contract was his only option.

In the world of "what if?", you can speculate endlessly on what might have happened if Sam Phillips had hung onto Elvis Presley. One distinct possibility is that his creditors would have foreclosed on Phillips and Presley's contract would have been auctioned off together with the recording equipment, the inventory and the studio fixtures.

Sam Phillips needed cash flow. He needed promotional capital. He needed additional staff. He needed the freedom to work with his artists without the endless worry brought on by the mounting depths. If Sam Phillips had been unable to meet his royalty obligations to Elvis Presley, it is possible that Colonel Tom Parker would have started proceeding against Sun and Phillips would have wound up without Elvis Presley, without the $35,000 that his contract brought and with a mountainous legal bill. So he sold!


Article in the Tri-Cities Daily read:

Big Names To Appear In Sheffield

Hank Thompson, Elvis Presley, Charlene Arthur, and Carl Perkins are the big names that will do the All-Star Jamboree of Western bop, and folk performers Tuesday night in two big shows at the Sheffield Community Center.

The show is being sponsored by the Muscle Shoals Jaycees. Hank Thompson and his Brazos Country Boys, a ten-piece band, the best in Western circles will be the new hit group that should please Muscle Shoals followers with his smooth western and western swing music. His string of hits are endless. He has appeared with stars such as Ray Anthony, Eddie Fisher, and Guy Lombardo and been the star of the show.

His music in the western field is much like Lombardo's in the popular field... a smooth type of lively rhythm that is endlessly popular. He'll be on hand to sing his long string of hits along with his band, who won the ''Best Western band in the country'' last year.

Then, Elvis Presley is already well known by teenagers and many oldsters alike in this area. The handsome 20-year-old bundle of energy will return for his third time to one of his most popular areas. he'll sing from audience requests in a lone appearance.

Charlene Arthur is the fast rising young female singer in the music circles. Her recordings are carrying her to new heights. ''Kiss The Baby Goodnight'' and ''Honeybun'' have catapulted the young lady rapidly upward.

Carl Perkins is the sleeper of the group. A relatively unknown singer he is appearing much in the manner of Johnny Cash in last summer's show. Unknown but quickly known. He does his music much in the manner of cash... a bop rhythm that has carried Presley rapidly. His ''Gone Gone Gone'' initial recording is rapidly catching fire and promoters are assuring folks that he'll be the pleasant surprise.

Tickets are on sale in Florence at Anderson News Stand, Sheffield at the Smoke Shop Drugs, and at the Palace Drugs in Tuscumbi


The tour rolled in to Camden, Arkansas, for two performances, at 7:00 and 9:15 p.m. Tickets for the shows at the City Auditorium were $1.00 for adults and 50-cents for children. Elvis was brought out last, and a hush fell over the audience when he began to sing ''Only You (And You Alone)'', about to reach the top 5 for the Platters after hitting number 1 on the Rhythm And Blues charts in the past month.

At 3:40 p.m. the next day Colonel Parker sent back a wire to Sam Phillips that read:


A few days later, Elvis Presley was gone on Sun Records. The little seven inch Audiotape boxes were shipped to RCA. Elvis Presley had spend hundreds of hours in Sam Phillips' studio. Dire financial necessity had forced Sam Phillips to re-use as much tape as possible.


Tonight the Elvis Presley and Hank Thompson group appeared at the Arkansas Municipal Auditorium in Texarkana. Carl Perkins dropped out of the tour and his place was filled by Johnny Cash. There were two shows, at 7:00 and 9:15 p.m.

Afterwards, Elvis Presley and Hank Thompson appeared at Texarkana's Hut Club from 10:00 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. An article in the Texarkana Gazette (December 27, 1981) reported that the club's owner, Roy Oliver, paid Elvis Presley only $17.50 (probably union scale) to play the club.

He wouldn't have booked him at all except that he came with Hank Thompson. According to Dewanda Jo Smith, who had a sister that worked at the club, the Hut was fairly refined - for a roadhouse. It was located on Highway 67 north of the city.

Inside, there were a series of relatively small rooms set aside for dining, dancing and the bar.


Elvis' week-long tour with Hank Thompson ended with a four-hour show and dance at the Reo Palm Isle Club in Longview, Texas that began at 8:00 p.m. Admission was $1.50. Later that night, Elvis performed at the Rio Palm Isle Club in nearby Longview, where, Paula Lane said, Elvis gave her an autograph and one of his guitar picks, which she lost.

"He had blond hair then", she remembers. "Dishwater blond. I don't think he had dark hair until he got into the movies". She told of one time seeing Elvis in Gladewater "ant he had a perm in his hair.

It was real frizzy. It looked terrible, but it didn't matter. You know, I never did like his music. The only thing I liked about him was his looks. When you're fifteen, you can be really silly".


Elvis Presley appeared on the Louisiana Hayride remote broadcast from the High School Gymnasium in Gladewater. By this time, disc jockey Tom Perryman had been elected president of the local chapter of the Jaycees. He had learned a few important lessons after April's over-crowded show, the most important of which was to set aside about 1,000 chairs in a reserved section on the floor of the gym.

A special souvenir program was also sold, featuring a large photo of Elvis Presley on the cover. As before, thirty minutes of the four-hour show was broadcast over CBS radio network, with the entire show airing in several markets, including Shreveport.

Elvis performs ''Baby Let's Play House'', That's All Right'', ''Rock Around The Clock'', during this period, Elvis Presley also sang the country tune "Tennessee Saturday Night", into his concerts. After performing it on the "Hayride", Elvis Presley told Bill Black that he felt that they just had to do it in the studio. Indeed, at some point in 1955 Elvis Presley did record this tune, although it, too, was never released commercially. Eventually, a bootleg single featuring the song was released as bonus Sun Record 252.

This appearance on the "Hayride" was one of the most exciting performances of his young career. In a playful mood, Elvis used a rhythm and blues approach while performing his songs. Elvis Presley inspired the crowd with a ripping version of "Tweedlee Dee". In a jubilant mood, he flew to Nashville after the show. Colonel Tom Parker had sent word that recording contract negotiations had been completed.

"I remember "Tennessee Saturday Night", but I don't think we ever did anything on it in the studio", recalled Scotty Moore.


Article of November 18, 1955 in the Gladewater Daily Mirror that says:


Hayride Show Here Saturday

All the big stars of KWKH's Louisiana Hayride show will be here in person Saturday night, when the entire show is broadcast from the stage of the local high school auditorium.

Elvis Presley, and the entire Saturday night cast are slated to appear. This is the second live broadcast of the Hayride, popular hillbilly radio show, from Gladewater. Both shows have been sponsored by the Gladewater Junior Chamber of Commerce.

Tickets are now on sale for the show, and a large crowd is expected. At the first performance here, an overflow crowd, with people coming from all over the Southwest, jammed the local gym, and the JC's cleared over $1,500 on proceeds of the show. Thus money has been spent for numerous civic projects in Gladewater, including assistance in the Little League baseball program, and other things for the betterment of the community.

Special souvenir programs are being printed for the show, and will be sold at the show. A feature of the program is a large picture of Elvis Presley, a big drawing card, with the Hayride show. The public is invited to attend the show.


Back in Memphis, Steve Sholes, Ben Starr, Coleman Tily III, Tom Parker, Tom Diskin, Hank Snow, local RCA distributor Jim Crudgington, and regional RCA Sam Esgro all converged on the little Sun studio, and Elvis Presley signed a three-year recording contract with RCA Victor that featured the Trademark Gramophone 1898 and Nipper logo.

The contract was the standard five percent of royalties, with an option to renew at the end of three years. Elvis also signed a "long term writing pact" with Hill and Range Publishing Company, which was to set up a separate publishing firm for "Elvis Presley Music Incorporated". The $40,000 paid to Sun Records gave RCA Victor all five of Elvis' Sun pressings as well as five unreleased songs, while Sun allowed to press copies of "Mystery Train" until the end of 1955. Hill and Range (Arnold Shaw also acquired Hi-Lo Music Incorporated from Sun Records, which gave the company the publishing rights to "Mystery Train", "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone" and "You're A Heartbreaker". In addition, Hill and Range acquired "That's All Right" from Wabash Music.

Finally, Elvis Presley also signed a contract with Colonel Tom Parker that allowed Parker to officially represent him in booking personal appearances. Tom Parker had been acting as Elvis' booking de facto booking agent since mid-August, 1955.

Colonel Tom Parker came accompanied by a document dated the same day stipulating that out of the 40 percent in combined commissions due the Colonel and Bob Neal (25 percent to the Colonel, 15 percent to Neal), there would be an even split for the duration of Neal's agreement, until March 15, 1956. The buyout agreement itself was a simple two-page document in which Sun Records agreed to turn over all tapes and cease all distribution and sales of previously released recordings as of December 31, 1955, while the managers, 'do hereby sell, assign and transfer unto RCA all of their right, title and interest in and to' the previously exercised option agreement.

After the contract was signed, there was a picture-taking ceremony, with different configurations of the various parties involved. In one Elvis Presley is flanked by Tom Parker and Hank Snow, proud partners in Jamboree Attractions, while Bob Neal, to Snow's left, jovially approves; in another (above) Gladys plants a kiss upon her son's cheek and clutches her black handbag as the Colonel pats her on the shoulder and Vernon looks stiffly on. In yet another Sam Phillips and Elvis Presley shake hands across RCA attorney Coleman Tily.

"They thought it would be great fun", said Marion Keisker, "if they all came over and we announced it. So they all crowded into the little control room, and we did a little four- or five-way interview, well, not really an interview, just a little chat. And in the course of it, I remember, Hank Snow said, 'I'm very proud this boy made his first appearance on the national scene on my section of the Grand Ole Opry'.

And he was being such a pompous ass about it, I couldn't help it, but I said, 'Yes, and I remember, you had to ask him what his name was'. That was a rather tactless thing for me to do".

"One thing that I did when I sold him was, I told them that I would give 'em (RCA) all the tracks that I had up until the end of the year", recalled Sam Phillips.

"We closed the deal in October '55 and I had to December 32st to sell, ship, do whatever I wanted to. After that I was not to ship one record, and in the meantime 'course, the tapes were turned over to RCA and Larry Kanaga was president of RCA Records... I was in New York and saw him - this was later, I think when I took Jerry Lee Lewis up there, but by that time he had left RCA and had gone to General Artist Corporation - GAC - which was kinda like the William Morris Agency and MCA who booked artists and this sort of hings... But I saw him up there and he told me that RCA had checked to see if I was gonna be honest about this or not".

They checked extensively to see - not only with my distributors but with the three pressings plants I used - one in Philadelphia, one here in Memphis and one in L.A. - to see if I pressed or shifted another Sun record on Elvis Presley. He told me when I saw him up there in New York that they had a spent a lotta money unnecessarily as it turned out! And Larry was highly complimentary about it which made me feel real good. So I think I'm correct, that I did not record those on him".

For information about RCA Victor and Nipper. (See: Other Record Labels)

(Above) On November 21, 1955, Elvis signed a contract with RCA and song publisher Hill and Range. The contract with Hill and Range was intended to handle song publishing in partnership with Elvis. The offered letter is an example of what was sent to songwriters whose material was not accepted by Elvis Presley Music, Inc. The letter, on pink stationery with Elvis Presley Music. Inc letterhead and a 1619 Broadway, New York 19, N.Y. address, is signed "Very sincerely yours" by Jack Schiffman and states, "Thank you very much for submitting your material to us, which we have examined carefully and are returning herewith''.

''Unfortunately this is not for us at the present time. However, we wish you luck in placing your material with another firm''.


The Memphis Press-Scimitar reported (below) that Elvis Presley, 20, Memphis recording star and entertainer who zoomed into bigtime and big money almost overnight, has been released from his contract with Sun Recording Company of Memphis and will record exclusively for RCA Victor.

Bob Johnson's story in the Press-Scimitar read: "Elvis Presley, 20, Memphis recording star and entertainer who zoomed into bigtime and the big money almost overnight, has been released from his contract with Sun Records Company of Memphis Phillips and RCA officials did not reveal terms but said the money involved is probably the highest ever paid for a contract release for a country-western recording artist". "I feel Elvis is one of the most talented youngsters today", Phillips said, "and by releasing his contract to RCA-Victor we will give him the opportunity of entering the largest organisation of its kind in the world, so his talents can be given the fullest opportunity".


By ROBERT JOHNSON Press-Scimitar Staff

Elvis Presley, 20, Memphis recording star and entertainer who zoomed into bigtime and the big money almost overnight, has been released from his contract with Sun Record Company of Memphis and will record exclusively for RCA-Victor, it was announced by Sam C. Phillips Sun President.

Phillips and RCA officials did not reveal terms, but said the money involved is probably the highest ever paid for a contract release for a country-western recording artist.

"I feel Elvis is one of the most talented youngsters today", Phillips said, "and by releasing his contract to RCA-Victor we will give him the opportunity of entering the largest organization of its kind in the world, so his talents can be given the fullest opertunity".

Handled by Parker

Negotiations were handled by Col. Tom Parker of Hank Snow jamboree Attractions, Madison Tennessee,

Bob Neal, Presley's personal manager, and Coleman Tiley III of RCA-Victor.

Elvis Presley Music, a publishing firm, has been set up to handle much of Presley's music, in conjunction with Hill and Range Music, Incorporated, New York City.

Bob Neal, WMPS personality, continues as Presley's personal manager and will handle his personal appearances and other activities, but Hank Snow-Jamboree Attractions will handle Presley enterprises in radio, TV, movies and theatres.

Also taking part in negotiations were Hank Snow himself, RCA-Victor's longest-terms western star; Sam Eagre, RCA-Victor regional sales manager; Ben Starr of Hill and Range Music, and Jim Crudington, local RCA-Victor representative.

Presley, who lived in Tupelo, Miss., until he was 14 and is a graduate of Humes High.

Phillips signed him for Sun Records after Presley wandered in one day and wanted to have a recording made at his own expense.

Best-Seller Fast

His first record, "That's All Right", and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" hit the best-seller lists immediately after its release in July last year, and both Billboard and Cash Box trade journals, named him the most promising western star. He became a regular on Louisiana Hayride on CBS. His newest record "Mystery Train" and "I Forgot To Remember To Forget", is his best-seller so far. Both songs were written by Stan Kesler and Charlie Feathers, a Memphis team. Tony Arden has just recorded "I Forgot To Remember To Forget" for Victor, and Pee Wee King's latest is also a Kesler-Feathers composition. All five Presley records have made the best-seller list.

Presley's "Mystery Train" is now being played by pop disc jockey’s as well as country and western in the east.

Sun has 10 country-western artists remaining on its label, including Johnny Cash and a newcomer, Carl Perkins of Bermis, Tennessee, who writes his own music and is causing a stir. This week Sun brings out a new feminine vocalist, Maggie Sun Wimberly of Florence, Ala., with songs by another Memphis composing team, Bill Cantrell and Quentin Church, who wrote a previous substantial country-western hit, "Day Dreaming".


Kalcheim pitches Presley to NBC-TV, describing him as a young singer along the lines of former teen idol Johnnie Ray.

Meanwhile, Elvis has gone shopping in Memphis, where he spends over $600 at Ed's Camera Shop.


Kalcheim pressures Parker to have Elvis play dates in New York and New Jersey in order to increase his exposure. The Colonel, for his part, adamantly ignores the suggestions of a man he feels is missing the point, resisting the pressure to pursue any other tactics but his own.


They ran ads as far as Beaumont for Elvis Presley's 8:00 p.m. appearance at the Auditorium of Woodrow Wilson Junior High School in Port Arthur, Texas. Also appearing were the Chelette Sisters, a local singing duo; the Doyle Brothers; Link Davis, a rockabilly singer from Houston who recorded for Starday Records; and "many others" who were reported to be from the Louisiana Hayride. Gordon Baxter of KPAC was the show's emcee. Tickets were $1.50 for adults with children only 50-cents. Proceeds from the show went to buy equipment for the Volunteer Fire Department of Port Acres, an unincorporated suburb of Port Arthur. Nevertheless, only a small crowd of about 100 attended, most likely including a young Janis Joplin.

Elvis' first performance after signing his RCA contract. The group is paid $350.

According to Doyle Reynolds, I was at high school in Port Arthur. There was a little place where we had lunch called Skip's Place, and they actually had a couple of Elvis records on the jukebox, so when he came to town, a lot of people were excited to see him. I wasn't going to see him. That day, I was in downtown Port Arthur doing some work for my father when I saw him drive by in his pink and charcoal-grey Cadillac. Gosh, what a lovely car, but what was even lovelier, and I hate to admit this, I was a hubcap thief. I said to myself, 'I'm going to get these hubcaps'. My friend and I went down the Woodrow Wilson auditorium, and there was a little parking lot in the back, and I was sure I knew exactly where the car was going to be parked, and we went back there with our screwdrivers. We jumped out to steal these hubcaps, but they were wire wheeled. So we picket up the screwdrivers and got back to the car, and at this time the back of the auditorium opens, and three other young men ran out the back to look at the car, and right behind them came a policeman or some kind of security and said, 'You guys get back in here, you can't go outside during the intermission'. So they turned around and went back in, and he then looked at us and said, 'You are no privileged characters, get back in'. So we went in and I looked at the back of the stage. I was right at that back door, and I looked in there and saw a girl that I knew from high school, and she was part of the Chelette Sisters, they were kind of semi-famous around Port Arthur. They were on the same bill that night, and I think they had already performed. So I saw Mary Jo Chelette standing just inside the door. Garland Sonnier and I just walked in there, and she happens to be talking to Elvis Presley. There was a big heavy library table, he was kind of sitting on that, in the middle part of it, and she was talking with him. There was a guy on the other end of it counting money, so I kind of marched in there, said hi to Mary Jo and Elvis. He was about three years older than me. I said, 'I hear you like gospel music'. That just lit him up. We talked for a good while about gospel music, and he had gone to church with the Blackwood Brothers and the Statemen and they were really my heroes. My sister had dated one of the Florida Boys. We talked for about 15-20 minutes, maybe. I can't remember the transition here, but he goes out on stage and he had a red jacket, Black shirt, black pants, and a tie. Guys around school were wearing derbies. I had this red derby, and Elvis goes out on stage singing, and I wasn't really paying much attention to him. I was talking to someone else. I was just a social butterfly back then. I was kind of on the edge of the stage, off to the right looking at the stage. He was very active on stage, he just moved and jumped, and I remember he had to stop and get a new guitar, because his strings were broken. He said, 'I can't play with these three strings'. So he comes to the edge of the stage, gets another guitar, sees my derby, and asks me if he can wear that derby, and he walks out on stage with that red derby, with his red jacket, and the other people are laughing. I think to holler at him to get it back''.


Elvis Presley pulled a capacity crowd for his appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride". Also on the show were Jimmy Newman, Johnny Horton, Werley Fairburn, George Jones, Betty Amos, Jeannette Hicks, Hoot and Curley, Jack Ford, Buddy Attaway, Floyd Cramer, and the Lump Lump Boys. Guests included Slim Rhodes and Buddy Thompson.

The Colonel writes to Neal, who will remain Elvis' personal manager by contract for another four months, to be sure that Elvis reports to all his shows on time. He advises Neal once again to remind Elvis to cut out the comedy during the shows and make sure the band does as well.

George Jones had recorded for Starday for a couple of years, and finally hit with his latest single ''Why Baby Why''. Jones was invited to the Hayride as a guest, only to discover that the young man he had played with at Magnolia Gardens, and even earlier at the Paladium in Houston, Texas, was now the top attraction on the Hayride.

According to Jones, ''The Night we both played the show, Elvis went on ahead of me and, of course, the people went wild. So I decided I would do rock and roll, too. When my turn came to play, I went out and did a rock and roll song and the crowd went wild. Well, I think that must have worried Elvis just a little bit because he came over and talked to me a little later. He told me how he had invented his music and I had invented my country music and he really thought I should stay with my kind of music. But he was very nice and I consider it a privilege to have worked with him''.

Elvis' friend Red West, who at this time travelled with Elvis whenever his schedule permitted, remembers the same event somewhat differently. In his memory George Jones went on before Elvis and basically did nothing but Presley tunes. In response, Elvis countered with a set of gospel songs instead of his own repertoire.

As Elvis Presley left Sun, Billboard had the following chart status of ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget''/''Mystery Train'' for the week of November 26: Best Sellers in Stores number 7; Most Played in Juke Boxes number 8 (mentions both sides); Most Played by Jockeys number 12; In Richmond, Virginia, ''Mystery Train'' was number 6.



Biggest Country and Western Record News Of The Year

In Elvis Presley we've acquired the most dynamic and sought-after new artist in country music today, one who's topped the "most promising" category in every trade and consumer poll held during 1955!

Promotion is being spearheaded with disc jockey records to the entire Pop and Country and Western "A" lists, an initial coverage of more than 4,000 destinations!

Page ads will appear this week in Billboard and Cash Box, reprints about 10 days later. The issues will carry full publicity on Presley's joining the label.

It's imperative that you follow up this all-market approach to every station receiving Pop or Country crevice. Use the trade articles to sell your dealers and one stops across the board!

The tunes:: I FORGOT TO REMEMBER TO FORGET and MYSTERY TRAIN. The number: 20/47- 6357. The name: Elvis Presley, one that will be your guarantee of sensational plus-sales in the months to come!

#55C-489John Y. Burgess, Jr.
11/28/55Manager of Sales and Promotions
Single Record Department, RCA

November 28, 1955



Elvis Presley and the Hank Snow All Star Jamboree appeared at the Mosque Theater for Philip Morris in Richmond, Virginia.

Colonel Tom Parker and Bob Neal both booked shows for this week. Colonel Parker had arranged two with Hank Snow and Elvis, especially for Philips Morris employees, one this day in Richmond, Virginia, and another the following week December 8 in Louisville, Kentucky.

To introduce the first show, at The Mosque in Richmond, Mel Gold, who produced the shows, asked Elvis to sing ''The Star Spangled Banner'' at an offstage microphone. He was so nervous that ''we had to give him a song sheet, so he would remember all the words''.

Jim Bowling, former Philip Morris Senior Vice President and Assistant to the Chairman, remembers a senior executive complaining, 'Do something, I can't understand a single word that guy's singing''. Jim replied, 'Obviously the audience doesn't care'''!

LATE 1955

The distinction between rhythm and blues and pop music, based exclusively on race, had at least begun to fade as rhythm and blues and pop tunes blended into the charts. It was now possible for either a black or white artist to cross from the rhythm and blues or country charts into the pop music ranks. The right record release could hit on all charts: rhythm and blues, country, and pop.

Cosimo Matassa, founder of the legendary J&M Recording Studio, recalled the drawbacks to Elvis Presley's popularity. As someone with a business developed much along the lines of Sam Phillips' early Memphis Recording Service, the success of Elvis Presley and other whites "Made it difficult for us to sell black artist. Elvis was popular among the people who bought black music".

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