CONTAINS

- ELVIS AND THE BLUES - TUPELO -

- SHAKE RAG (SHAKERAG) - TUPELO -

- ''AMATEUR HOME MOVIE SHOT'' -
at Magnolia Gardens, Houston, Texas, August 7, 1955 Sunday

- ELVIS PRESLEY'S FINAL PERFORMANCE ON THE ''LOUISIANA HAYRIDE'' DECEMBER 16, 1956 -
THE DAY BEFORE... DECEMBER 15, 1956 SATURDAY

- ELVIS AND THE BLUES - TUPELO -

Elvis Presley revolutionized popular music by blending the blues he first heard as a youth in Tupelo with country, pop, and gospel. Many of the first songs Elvis recorded for the Sun label in Memphis were covers of earlier blues recordings by African Americans, and he continued to incorporate blues into his records and live performances for the remainder of his career.

Elvis first encountered the blues here in Tupelo, and it remained central to his music throughout his career. The Presley family lived in several homes in Tupelo that were adjacent to African American neighborhoods, and as a youngster Elvis and his friends often heard the sounds of blues and gospel streaming out of churches, clubs, and other venues. According to Mississippi blues legend Big Joe Williams, Elvis listened in particular to Tupelo blues guitarist Lonnie Williams.

During Elvis’s teen years in Memphis he could hear blues on Beale Street, just a mile south of his family’s home. Producer Sam Phillips had captured many of the city’s new, electrified blues sounds at his Memphis Recording Service studio, where Elvis began his recording career with Phillips's Sun label. Elvis was initially interested in recording ballads, but Phillips was more excited by the sound created by Presley and studio musicians Scotty Moore and Bill Black on July 5, 1954, when he heard them playing bluesman Arthur ''Big Boy'' Crudup’s 1946 recording ''That’s All Right''.

That song appeared on Presley’s first single, and each of his other four singles for Sun Records also included a cover of a blues song - Arthur Gunter’s ''Baby Let’s Play House'', Roy Brown’s ''Good Rockin' Tonight'', Little Junior Parker's ''Mystery Train'', and Kokomo Arnold’s ''Milk Cow Blues'', recorded under the title ''Milkcow Blues Boogie'' by Elvis, who likely learned it from a version by western swing musician Johnnie Lee Wills. Elvis's sound inspired countless other artists, including Tupelo rockabilly musician Jumpin' Gene Simmons, whose 1964 hit ''Haunted House'' was first recorded by bluesman Johnny Fuller.

Elvis continued recording blues after his move to RCA Records in 1955, including ''Hound Dog'', first recorded by Big Mama Thornton in 1952, Lowell Fulson’s ''Reconsider Baby'', Big Joe Turner's ''Shake, Rattle and Roll'', and two more by Crudup, ''My Baby Left Me'' and ''So Glad You're Mine''. One of Elvis's most important sources of material was the African American songwriter Otis Blackwell, who wrote the hits ''All Shook Up'', ''Don’t Be Cruel'', and ''Return to Sender''.

In Presley’s so-called ''comeback'' appearance on NBC television in 1968, he reunited with Scotty Moore and Bill Black to revisit his early blues roots. The trio reprised their early Sun recordings, and also performed other blues, including the Jimmy Reed songs ''Big Boss Man'' and ''Baby What You Want Me to Do''. Blues remained a feature of Elvis's live performances until his death in 1977.

- ELVIS LIVED IN SHAKE RAG (SHAKERAG) - TUPELO -

Shake Rag, located east of the old M&O (later GM&O) railway tracks and extending northward from Main Street, was one of several historic African American communities in Tupelo. By the 1920s blues and jazz flowed freely from performers at Shake Rag restaurants, cafes, and house parties, and later from jukeboxes, while the sounds of gospel music filled the churches. The neighborhood was leveled and its residents relocated during an urban renewal project initiated in the late 1960s.

Tupelo’s blues legacy is perhaps most widely known for its influence on a young Elvis Presley, who lived adjacent to the African American neighborhoods of ''Shake Rag'' and ''On the Hill''. A local explanation for the origin of Shake Rag's name refers to people ''shakin' their rags'' while fleeing a fight. The term was also used to describe African American musical gatherings in the 1800s and early 1900s and may be related to Shake Rag’s location next to the railway tracks; prior to regular timetables, passengers would signal for the engineer to stop a train by shaking a rag. Gambling and bootlegging were commonplace in Shake Rag and although outsiders often regarded the area as dangerous, former residents proudly recalled its churches, prosperous businesses, and strong sense of community, a quality highlighted in Charles ''Weir” Johnson's 2004 documentary about Shake Rag, Blue Suede Shoes in the Hood. Blues guitarists such as Willie C. Jones, Charlie Reese, "Tee-Toc'', and Lonnie Williams played at Shake Rag house parties, on street corners, on a stage near the fairgrounds, and at the Robins Farm south of downtown, according to musicians who have stated that Elvis Presley may have been especially swayed by the music of "Tee-Toc" or Williams.

Touring blues, jazz, and rhythm and blues acts performed elsewhere in town at more formal venues including the Henry Hampton Elks Lodge on Tolbert Street, the Dixie Belle Theater, the lounge at Vaughn’s Motel on North Spring Street, and the armory at the fairgrounds. In the post-World War II era George ''Bally'' Smith, a multi-instrumentalist whose repertoire included big band jazz and rhythm & blues, led the most celebrated local band. His band members over the years included bassist Charles ''Bo'' Clanton, trumpeters Turner Bynum and Joe Baker, drummers James ''Pinhead'' Ashby and Steve Norwood, guitarists Willie ''Shug'' Ewing, Cliff Mallet, and ''Guitar'' Murphy, trombonist Fred Chambers, pianist Billy Ball, and saxophonists James Brown, Jerry Baker, Augustus Ashby, Pete Norwood, and Ben Branch, who directed the band at Carver High School. Bally also led the King Cole Trio-style group Three B’s and a Bop, featuring Clanton, James Ashby, and vocalist Hattie Sue Helenstein. Bally’s groups performed on radio stations WELO and WTUP, sometimes together with vocal group the Five Rockets, which included Sam Bell and Wayne Herbert, Sr.

Nap Hayes of Shake Rag was among the first Tupelo performers to record (in 1928 for OKeh Records). Other Tupelo area natives who have recorded blues, rhythm and blues, or gospel include Aaron and Marion Sparks, Benny Sharp, Willie Pooch, Lester and Willie Chambers of the Chambers Brothers, Riley (Richard) Riggins, Lee Williams of the Spiritual QCs, and Homemade Jamz Blues Band.

The Mississippi Blues Trail
Copyrights 2010 Mississippi Blues Foundation

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

- ''AMATEUR HOME MOVIE SHOT'' -
at Magnolia Gardens, Houston, Texas, August 7, 1955 Sunday

In the afternoon, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black performed in Houston at the Magnolia Gardens (afternoon show), 12044 Beach Street, Houston, Texas. There was actually an ad for this appearance at the time, were in the audience that day and Jim and Lois Robertson were trying out a new 8mm home movie camera with color. They didn't really know of Elvis at the time and Lois Robertson only seemed to recall about 20 to 25 people in attendance. She filmed parts of the performance and after the color film was developed the Robertsons watched it once or twice, then put it away.

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

ELVIS ARON PRESLEY - (1935-1977) Nicknamed as "The King Of Rock And Roll", Elvis Presley is probably the most famous singer and entertainer of the 20th century. Born at 4:35 a.m. on January 8, 1935 (Astrological sign of Elvis is Capricorn) in East Tupelo, Mississippi, the son of Vernon Elvis and Gladys Love Smith Presley, and reared in Memphis in near poverty, he became an international celebrity and one of the wealthiest entertainers in history. Elvis' twin brother, Jesse Garon, was stillborn and buried in an unmarked grave in the Priceville Cemetery the next day.

In his early childhood, Elvis Presley loved to sing the gospel songs that were sung in the First Assembly of God Church just one block from his family's home. Elvis attended the church with his parents, who also enjoyed joining in on the musical praises.

While in the fifth grade at Lawhon Elementary School, Elvis' teacher, Mrs. J.C. Oleta Grimes, discovered that Elvis had an unusual singing talent when he extemporaneously sang "Old Shep" in class one day. Grimes informed the school's principal, J.D. Cole, of Elvis' talent and, on October 3, 1945, he entered Elvis Presley in the annual talent contest at the Mississippi- Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. The talent contest was sponsored and broadcast live by Tupelo radio station WELO. Singing "Old Shep", Elvis Presley did not win second place, five dollars. Nubin Payne actually won second price that year, she still has her trophy.

On Elvis' birthday on January 8, 1946, he received his first guitar - a $7.75 model purchased by his mother at the Tupelo Hardware Store. According to the proprietor, Forrest L. Bobo, Elvis wanted a rifle and raised quite a ruckus in the store when it became evident that Gladys was not about to buy him the gun.

Elvis Presley was influenced by many country, gospel, and blues artists from his area, and in the summer of 1948 the Presley's moved to Memphis, Tennessee. Though the circumstances remain clouded, it appears that Vernon Presley was in trouble with the law. Apparently he had been selling moonshine whiskey. Reportedly, Tupelo authorities gave Vernon two weeks to leave town. In any case, the Presley's moved from Tupelo to Memphis in September 1948, and Elvis Presley was enrolled at the Christine School. The following year he entered Humes High School.

From 1948 to 1953, Elvis Presley frequent on Beale Street and he joins the black bars and jukes listening to the black musicians, and his years at Humes High were unevenly, except for his senior year. During that year, 1952 to 1953, Elvis Presley was persuaded by his history and homeroom teacher Mrs. Mildred Scrivener, to perform in the annual Humes High Minstrel Show, which she produced.

While attending Humes High School, Elvis Presley went to work for the Precision Tool Company on June 3, 1951. He was employed there only a month. After graduating from high school, Elvis Presley frequently in the Beale Street area's, and was hired by the Crown Electric Company as a truck driver. His job consisted primarily of delivering supplies to the men on construction sites.

During a lunch break on a Saturday afternoon in July 1953, Elvis Presley stopped in front of the Memphis Recording Service at 706 Union Avenue. The Memphis Recording Service was a lucrative sideline for Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records. While there were several similar companies in Memphis. Elvis chose the Memphis Recording Service because it was owned by Sam Phillips. Legend has it that Elvis wanted to make a record for his mother's birthday; however, Gladys Presley's birthday was on April 25, so that story can be discounted.

Marion Keisker, a former "Miss Radio of Memphis" and then Sam Phillips' studio manager, was in the studio when Elvis Presley proceeded to record two songs "My Happiness", and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin". Midway through "My Happiness", Keisker recognized in Elvis Presley the quality that Sam Phillips was looking for: "A white singer with a Negro voice". She immediately threaded a piece of discarded recording tape onto the Ampex tape recorder used in the studio and succeeded in recording the last third of "My Happiness" and all of "That's When Your Heartaches Begin". Before Elvis left the studio with his record, Keisker asked for his address and telephone number.

On Monday, January 4, 1954, Elvis Presley again returned to the Memphis Recording Service to make another four-dollar demo. In early June of 1954, Sam Phillips couldn't locate the black singer of a demo record of "Without Love" that he brought back from Peer Music in Nashville. He decided to record it with someone else, and Marion Keisker suggested he try Elvis Presley.

On Monday, July 5, 1954, Elvis Presley made his first commercial recording session at Sun Records. The first song he put on tape was "Harbor Lights". During a refreshment break, Elvis began cutting up and singing an upbeat version of Arthur Crudup's blues standard "That's All Right", and his musicians Scotty Moore and Bill Black joined in. The next evening they decided on an up-tempo version of Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" for the flip-side of the record.

Sam Phillips took acetates of Elvis' first record to many of the local disc jockeys. On the evening of July 7, 1954 on his WHBQ radio program, "Red Hot and Blue", disc jockey Dewey Phillips played "That's All Right". The response was so terrific that Dewey Phillips called Elvis at home to arrange an interview. The interview and record made Elvis an overnight celebrity in Memphis.

On July 12, 1954, Elvis Presley signed a managerial contract with Scotty Moore, and later that week signed a recording contract with Sun Records. The following week, on July 19, "That's All Right"/"Blue Moon Of Kentucky" (SUN 209) was released. Eventually sales totaled less than twenty thousand copies, but it was the beginning of a career that would be unmatched by anyone in the history of the entertainment industry.

Elvis Presley's first professional appearance after signing with Sun Records was at the Overton Park Shell on July 30, 1954. Slim Whitman was the featured performer that day.

Elvis soon began making many professional appearances, among them the grand opening of the Katz Drug Store in September 1954. On October 2, 1954, he made his first and only appearance at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, singing "Blue Moon Of Kentucky". The audience response was lukewarm and Jim Denny, the talent coordinator for the Grand Ole Opry, suggested that Elvis Presley go back to driving a truck. Two weeks later, however, Elvis performed on the "Louisiana Hayride", and the response was so good that he was asked to become a regular.

On January 1, 1955, Scotty Moore, no longer able to fully devote his time to the management of Elvis Presley's career, relinquished his managerial duties to WMPS disc jockey Bob Neal.

Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black auditioned for "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts" in New York City in April 1955, failing to make the show.

In the fall of 1955, Sam Phillips was faced with a problem: should he continue to devote his energies to promoting Elvis, or should he sell Elvis' contract to the highest bidder and use the money to develop several of the potential stars he had at Sun Records. He chose the latter. At the Warwick Hotel in New York City, on November 20, 1955, Sam Phillips sold Elvis' Sun contract to RCA Victor for the total sum of $40,000 ($25,000 from RCA and $15,000 from the Hill and Range Music Company), plus a $5,000 bonus to Elvis Presley to cover the amount he would have received in royalties from Sun Records.

Though he was with Sun Records for only sixteen months, Elvis Presley recorded five records: SUN 209 ("That's All Right"/"Blue Moon Of Kentucky''); SUN 210 ("Good Rockin' Tonight"/"I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine"); SUN 215 ("Milkcow Blues Boogie"/"You're A Heartbreaker"); SUN 217 ("Baby, Let's Play House"/"I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone"); SUN 233 ("Mystery Train"/"I Forgot To Remember To Forget").

In late 1954, Colonel Thomas Andrew Parker, a former carnival worker, began taking an interest in Elvis' career, and it was Parker who helped to secure the RCA Victor contract. In 1955, Parker assisted Bob Neal in booking several performances for Elvis Presley. Although Bob Neal was Elvis' legal manager, Parker began to guide his career in mid-1955. On March 15, 1956, Tom Parker officially took over the managerial duties.

After signing with RCA Victor, all of Elvis' Sun singles were re-released on RCA's label, and on January 10, 1956, Elvis Presley had his first recording session for RCA Victor in Nashville, Tennessee. The first song put on tape was "I Got A Woman", but the big hit from the session was "Heartbreak Hotel", a tune written by Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton. "Heartbreak Hotel", backed with "I Was The One", was released on January 27, 1956, and the following evening, Elvis, Scotty, and Bill made their national television debut on the Dorsey Brothers "Stage Show". Five more appearances followed. By the time of the last appearance, on March 24, "Heartbreak Hotel" was the number one song on Billboard magazine's popularity chart, and Elvis Presley was on his way to becoming a millionaire.

Elvis Presley made a screen test for Hal Wallis of Paramount studios on April 1, 1956. He did a scene from "The Rainmaker" with veteran actor Frank Faylen and sang "Blue Suede Shoes". Two days later, Elvis made the first of two appearances on "The Milton Berle Show". A disastrous two-week stand at the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, followed later in April and early May. Originally scheduled for four weeks. Elvis' last Las Vegas debut was cut short after the second week because of poor audience response. On June 5, 1956, Elvis made his second appearance on "The Milton Berle Show", and "The Steve Allen Show" followed on July 5, 1956. Elvis Presley's big break came when he performed on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on September 9, 1956. After that he was truly a national phenomenon. His performance was viewed by an estimated 54 million people.

Elvis' first movie, Love Me Tender, premiered in November 1956, and he was on his way to becoming a successful movie star. Three other films were made in the 1950s: Loving You, Jailhouse Rock, and King Creole.

Before filming King Creole, Elvis Presley received his draft notice. Originally scheduled to report for duty on January 20, 1958, Elvis requested and received a deferment to March 24, 1958 so that he could finish filming King Creole.

On Monday morning, March 24, 1958, Elvis Presley was inducted into the U.S. Army. He received his indoctrination at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, and was then sent to Fort Wood, Texas, for boot camp. Though Elvis' Army career was primarily uneventual, two events did occur that were to change his life.

While Elvis was stationed at Fort Wood, Texas, his mother Gladys became ill. She died on August 14, 1958, at the Methodist Hospital in Memphis. Gladys Presley was forty-six, though it was erroneously believed she was forty-two.

In September 1958, Elvis Presley was assigned to the Second Armored Division in West Germany. During his stay in Germany, Airman Currie Grant introduced Elvis to his future wife, Priscilla Beaulieu.

Vernon Presley also met his future wife in West Germany. Davada (Dee) Stanley was in the process of divorcing her husband, an Army sergeant, when Vernon met her. On July 3, 1960, Vernon Presley and Dee Stanley were married in a private ceremony in Huntsville, Alabama. Elvis Presley did not attend.

Soon after Elvis' discharge on March 5, 1960, he travelled to Miami, Florida, to film the Frank Sinatra-Timex Special "Welcome Home, Elvis" for ABC-TV. Just before Christmas 1960, Elvis placed a call to Colonel Joseph Beaulieu to ask for permission for Priscilla to spend the holiday at Graceland. After talking with Vernon Presley, Colonel Beaulieu agreed. More that a year later, Elvis arranged Priscilla to live at Graceland, enroling her in Immaculate Conception High School in Memphis.

Elvis Presley gave a benefit concert for the USS Arizona Memorial Fund in Honolulu, Hawaii, on March 25, 1961. It was to be his last live performance for eight years. "Good Luck Charm", was Elvis' last number one single until 1969, was released the following year.

During the 1960s, Elvis busied himself with making movies, filming twenty-seven of them during the decade. His most successful film was Viva Las Vegas in 1964. None of the movies received rave reviews from the critics, but Elvis' legion of fans made certain that they all showed a profit at the box office.

Musically, the mid-1960s was a period of decline for Elvis Presley. None of his singles released reached number one and almost all of them were from his movies. His records weren't the giant hits they were in his golden years of the 1950s and early 1960s. Elvis' decline can be attributed to several factors. Foremost among them is the advent of the British invasion and, specifically, the Beatles. The sheer number of instrumental and vocal groups and single performers on the music charts simply diluted the market. There was more competition for the public's record-buying dollar, and it took a much stronger record to reach number one or to become a million-seller.

On May 1, 1967, Elvis and Priscilla were married at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nine months later, on February 1, 1968, their child, Lisa Marie, was born. Elvis' marriage and the birth of Lisa Marie seemed to give him a new drive for success and the urge to perform before a live audience again.

After seven years of concert inactivity, Elvis Presley decided to start performing before the public once again. The first step on his comeback trail was an NBC television special titled "Elvis". He filmed the special in June of 1968 at NBC's Burbank, California, studios. The special, which aired on December 3, 1968, received critical acclaim and good ratings.

In January and February 1969, Elvis Presley had his first Memphis recording session since his days with Sun Records. His recordings at the American Sound Studios were among the most dynamic of his career. On July 31, 1969, Elvis began a spectacular one-month engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada - his first appearance in Las Vegas since the disastrous booking at the New Frontier Hotel thirteen years earlier.

In November 1969 Elvis Presley once again reached the top of the music charts with "Suspicious Minds" his first number one song since 1962. At the same time, Change Of Habit", his last movie (except for two documentaries), was released.

Elvis Presley was presented an award by the U.S. Jaycees for being one of the "Ten Outstanding Young Man of America" in 1971. Two years later one of the crowning achievements of Elvis' career occurred. On January 14, 1973, Elvis performed before a worldwide television audience in a special called "Elvis - Aloha From Hawaii". A taped and expanded version of the special was aired by NBC-TV in the United States on April 4, 1973.

Everything seemed to be coming up roses for Elvis Presley in the early 1970s - at least professionally. But the constant touring, filming, and long periods of separation from Priscilla put a strain on their marriage. In addition, Priscilla had to compete with Elvis' entourage, the Memphis Maffia, for his attention. In 1972, Priscilla left Elvis for Mike Stone, her karate instructor. Elvis and Priscilla were divorced in October 1973.

Even before his divorce, and shortly after his separation, Elvis began dating other woman. Although he dated Sheila Ryan, Malessa Blackwood, and several others. Linda Thompson was foremost in Elvis' life and was his steady companion from 1972 to 1976. Linda had been a Miss Tennessee.

Toward the end of 1976, Elvis had a new steady girl-friend - Ginger Alden, a first runner-up in the 1976 Miss Tennessee beauty pageant. According to Ginger Alden, Elvis proposed to her on January 26, 1977, and they were to be married on Christmas Day of 1977, That day never came. Elvis Presley made several concert appearances in 1977, the last in Indianapolis on June 26, 1977.

On the night of August 15-16, 1977, just one day before leaving on yet another tour, Elvis visited the office of dentist Lester Hoffman to get a cavity filled. A few hours later, he played racquetball with his cousin Billy Smith and his wife, Jo. After playing racquetball, Elvis went to bed. He awoke late in the morning to go to the bathroom, taking a book, "The Scientific Search For The Face Of Jesus", with him to read.

Shortly after 2:00 p.m., Ginger Alden found Elvis slumped on the floor. She called Joe Esposito, who tried to revive Elvis Presley. At approximately 2:30 paramedics Charlie Crosby and Ulysses S. Jones arrived at Graceland to render assistance and to take Elvis Presley to the Baptist Memorial Hospital. All attempts at resuscitation by the doctors failed, and Elvis Presley was pronounced dead at 3:30.

Throughout the world, Elvis' fans went into mourning, and many booked flights to Memphis. Reverend C.W. Bradley officiated at the private funeral services at Graceland an Thursday, August 18, 1977, and Elvis Presley's body was later entombed at Forest Hill Cemetery next to that of his mother. Because of an attempted body snatching on August 29, and the tremendous crowds at Forest Hill Cemetery, the bodies of Elvis and Gladys Presley were moved to the grounds of Graceland on the night of October 2, 1977.

Much speculation surrounds the death of Elvis Presley. He did have a history of health problems, three previous heart attacks (cardiac arrythmia, and drug did contribute to his death, some claim he had been taking prescription drugs because he was slowly dying of bone cancer. No matter what the cause of death, the world lost a greatest entertainer and the King Of Rock And Roll - Elvis Presley.

His Memphis home, Graceland (open to the public since 1982), one of the most popular tourist attractions in the South, is an enduring reminder of the quintessentially southern character of Elvis Presley.

On August 12, 1992, RCA and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) posthumously awarded to Elvis Presley 110 gold, platinum and multi-platinum albums and singles, the largest presentation of gold and platinum records in history. Included was a gold award for a new box set, Elvis, The King Of Rock And Roll, The Complete 50s Masters, for which there had been enough advance orders to prompt the RIAA to give it platinum status. In late 1993 another box set, Elvis: From Nashville to Memphis, The Essential 60s Master I, went gold, selling over 100,000 units of this five-disc collection. This brings Elvis Presley's total of gold, platinum, or multi-platinum titles to 111. This brings his total of times to go gold or platinum to 274 units, as one must go gold twice to go platinum, and some of the titles are multi-platinum.

Elvis Presley stood at number one on the list of certifications, with more than twice as many certifications as any of the nearest contenders. As of August 1992, the Beatles came in at number two with 41 titles, followed by the Rolling Stones with 39, Barbara Streisand with 37, and Elton John with 37.

It is estimated that Elvis Presley has sold in excess of one billion records worldwide, more than any other artist in the history of recorded voice.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

- ELVIS PRESLEY'S FINAL PERFORMANCE ON THE ''LOUISIANA HAYRIDE'' DECEMBER 16, 1956 -
THE DAY BEFORE... DECEMBER 15, 1956 SATURDAY

A yellow Caddy limousine pulled in from Memphis at five a.m. and a weary Elvis Presley checked into the Captain Shreve Hotel in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana. It is hard to imagine that this is the place were barely two years earlier Elvis with Scotty, Bill and Sam Phillips sat together, dreaming of leaving truck driving for a career in music.

When Elvis slept a few hours in the early morning hours in his hotel room, according to a statement launched by the "The Shreveport Journal," groups of female teens an unrestricted "find Elvis" campaign. Oscar Davis, one of Colonel Parker's assistant told the newspaper he did not know where Elvis lodges, but it would not surprise him if his fans would find him. The teenager, said Davis, had a pretty successful, coordinated system for it.

And now, Elvis was back here, has a longing for just a little peace and quiet. He opened the window of his room and shouted down a plea for quiet to the crowd already forming below, so he could get some much needed sleep after the tiring journey. The secrecy of Elvis' room number and its position was, despite of all efforts by the police, failed.

Captain Shreve Hotel a young fan took the big prize. The 9-year-old Philippa "Flip" Unger from Denton, Texas and her mother stopped on the way home by the hotel. When she heard that Elvis was in the city, they decided to stay in order to watch his show at the Fairgrounds. But "Flip" received more than she had expected; it has allowed her the access to Elvis' room to meet him and she got "a big hug" and an autograph.

Those fans who were not looking for Elvis and were spectators for the show in the evening at 8 p.m., already gathered outside the Youth Center. Teenager Billie Jean Prescott captured the first place in the row, when she arrived at 7a.m. early in the Youth Center.

Meanwhile, the police turned their attention to the upcoming concert. A plot was hatched to set up a fake Elvis to decoy the avid fans away from the real one. Patrolman Robert Catts had the same build and sleepy eyes as Elvis. So he was awarded (or punished, depending on how you look at it) with the task of impersonating the King. Officer Catts was outfitted in Elvis attire and a pink Cadillac was even brought in from a local car dealer to complete the ruse. At an appointed hour the Caddy took off with a police escort for the five mile journey to the state fairgrounds. When the motorcade pulled up to the entrance of the Youth Building, Catts and his entourage were mobbed while the real Elvis slipped quietly in the backdoor almost unnoticed.

It had been just over two years since Elvis had first appeared on the stage of the Louisiana Hayride. The Youth Building had a seating capacity of about 10,000 and every ticket had been sold. The plan was to setting up a fence in front of the stage and limiting the number of chairs on the floor, but as soon as the doors were opened, that plan went out the window. A solid mass of teenagers grabbed the chairs and drug them as close to the stage as possible.

Elvis arrived at the Youth Center in the early evening to keep his usual press conference before the show. All in all it was a busy night for Elvis. The two primary local newspapers, “The Shreveport Times” and “The Shreveport Journal” dispatched their top photographers to cover the mayhem. Langston McEachern shot for the Times and Jack Barham for the Journal. The two were given unlimited access to the facility and moved about freely on stage and off.

Probably the most meaningful autograph, which gave Elvis that day, received Mrs. Betty Fields, a polio patient, who was since 1957 in the Confederate Memorial Hospital. She was brought with a so-called "iron lung" including equipment in the Youth Center to meet their idol. The meeting she had won in a radio contest.

But this evening was also a great challenge for Shreveport’s police. The teenager gave the impression that they wanted, with all their enthusiasm, tear Elvis into pieces and the police erected more or less effective barricades around the building, which barely was enough to protect Elvis from the hordes of fans. It needed a remarkable agility of Elvis as he fled before his admirers from one room to another - always two steps ahead of his fans.

Elvis spoke briefly with the two Presidents of Elvis fan clubs, Janelle Alexander of Shreveport and Kay Wheeler of Dallas. Janelle later told reporters that when she met Elvis, she experienced at the same time the "feeling" of love, hate, anger, hero worship, excitement and even a lot more, that she wouldn’t say. Kay agreed with the words: "Every time I meet him, I freak out. He is the most fascinating person I ever knew. Elvis is the living image of all that teenagers should see and hear“.

Bob Masters, reporter of "The Shreveport Times" reported that Elvis prolonged the press conference for a Christmas greeting to local teens: "Cool Yule and a fantastic first".

In addition to his duties for the "Shreveport Journal," Jack Barham was on assignment for “Life Magazine”. Life was preparing a story about Elvis and needed a photo to illustrate a conversation between Elvis Presley and his Japanese counterpart. And yes, there were Elvis-impersonators even back then!

Backstage was “organized chaos” at best and Jack found Elvis and Colonel Parker in a small room amid a sea of media, fans, promoters and Hayride performers. Jack explained to the Colonel the need to “stage” a shot of ‘Elvis on the phone to illustrate the conversation that had already had taken place between the two nationals. The Colonel seized upon the excuse to clear the room and give his star some quiet tie before the performance. The dressing room had one standard rotary phone with a six-foot cord on a shelf in the corner. The cramped quarters quickly proved unyielding as Jack searched a vain for a good angle and the Colonel grew impatient. A search of the other rooms backstage determined this was the only phone and show time was fast approaching. The situation seemed hopeless. Colonel Parker – however – was not to be defeated. He quickly provided his own solution by yanking the phone from the wall and bellowing at Jack and Elvis to follow him into the hall. A folding chair was plopped down and Elvis was ordered to talk on the phone whose shredded wires dangled out of frame. Jack sat Elvis in the chair backwards for a casual feeling and the photo shot was over in short order.

Elvis retreated back inside the dressing room and invited Jack Barham to keep him company while he warmed up for the show. Not one to waste the moment, Colonel Parker grabbed Langston McEachern and talked him into take pictures of his wheeler-dealer self, that shows him working the phones like “doing business”. Dishonest? Yes, but that was Colonel Tom Parker.

McEachern and Barham swirled around Elvis, trying to capture some of his tremendous energy on film. Both snapped pictures furiously and did their best with the existing lightening conditions. Neither really sensed the lasting impact Elvis would have on the music scene. Langston: “None of us did. He was just our friend Elvis and this was for us just one more night on the job.” With that in mind, Langston McEachern broke free and rushed off to make the headline for “The Shreveport Times”. Jack Barham stayed behind to finish up.

The most impressive stick of audio of this evening in the archives of the Hayride is Elvis' addition of "Hound Dog", which was pure dynamite. His change in the short span of two years is nowhere more evident than in this interpretation of his popular hit. Record- and movie producers watched the concert, and were, though forewarned, speechless.

Comparisons to a young Frank Sinatra would no longer paint the picture of the power Elvis had and the frenzy his presence could evoke. This was something new, something entirely different. The world was, at last, ready for Elvis.

Finally it was show time - the last time this year 1956. Elvis entered the stage this evening at 21.30. During his appearance he was backing by "The Jordanaires", a popular gospel group that toured and recorded many years with Elvis. Horace Logan Elvis turned to the audience, who took the stage - dressed in white shoes with blue sole, a green jacket, blue pants, white shirt, tie and scarf. His 35-minute performance included ten songs: ''Heartbreak Hotel'', ''Long Tall Sally'', ''I Was The One'', ''Love Me Tender'', ''Don’t Be Cruel'', ''Love Me'', ''I Got A Woman'', ''When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again'', ''Paralyzed'' and ''Hound Dog.''

Pericles Alexander, entertainment editor of "The Shreveport Times" wrote: Elvis mere appearance on the Hayride stage caused nuclear flashbulbs of photographers and screams of teenagers, which swelled into a pandemonium. Regardless of the circular motion of the troubadour, he was rarely, if ever, heard from the audience, who shouted as the Zulus at every little muscle twitch. The Pelvis put more "body"-English in a song as many throwers in baseball and he moved often and better than a well-oiled Swiss watch''.

Bob Masters of “The Shreveport Times” wrote in an article: ''Elvis Presley came to town yesterday, and last night 9,000 rock and rollers “flipped”. His appearance on the stage of the Louisiana Hayride at the fairgrounds Youth Center set off was undoubtedly one of the finest displays of mass hysteria in Shreveport history. Presumably he sang: you couldn’t hear him over the screams of the frenzied 9,000. But at least his hips were moving and his pelvis certainly was. He wasn’t halfway through “Heartbreak Hotel” before it became apparent nobody ever had a more appropriate nickname. It was a hectic evening for Elvis all around. A scheduled press conference more nearly resembled a mob scene with representative of the press and radio lost among the throngs of fans, autograph seekers and the curious who infiltrated the meeting. A brief talk with the Pelvis – who finally managed to escape the mob with about two minutes remaining in his 60 minutes “press conference” – disclosed that he was glad to be back in Shreveport, has four Cadillac and a Lincoln Continental and apparently enjoyed all the fuss made over him''.

Frank Page: “I was present at all performances of Elvis' here, which he made at the Louisiana Hayride, and knew how the audience would react to this young man. I was prepared for greater things, but I was not prepared for this night. When Elvis finally came on stage, thousands of Brownie Reflex cameras starts going at the same time. On some photos that were shot that night, show me on one side of the stage and I look out scared and anxious. I was! I had never seen 10,000 teens that shouted themselves the top of their lungs. It was absolutely frightening. The screams began when Elvis took the stage and they did not stop throughout his performance. Many people told later that the audience could not tell whether he was singing or not or whether the band was playing, but it cared nobody. "The King" was back at home''.

The now legendary phrase “Elvis has left the building” was first uttered by Horace Logan that night quite by accident. The show had been a regular performance of the Louisiana Hayride and Elvis was the third act of about twenty. Once his performance was over and the encore complete, the crow of teenagers made for the exits. In a futile plea for the acts that would follow, Horace Logan made the announcement to assure the audience that Elvis would not be back out but that there was still much left of the regular show. The crowd’s exodus continued unabated. The show somehow went on.

Horace Logan: “All right, uh. Elvis has left the building. I have told you absolutely straight up this point – you know, that he has left the building. He left the stage and went out in the back with the policemen and he is now gone from the building. I remind you again that the Hayride will continue right on till 11.30 p.m., presenting, again, most of the country artists that you have seen tonight. We’ll be very pleased to have you remain with us. I invite you also to tune in tonight, all of you who are listening to KWKH, to our Red River Round up which, beginning at 11.30 p.m., will be heard straight through until one o’clock tonight. You’ll have the opportunity of hearing on that show a gre3at many of the country music disc jockeys who are visiting with us here tonight in the Youth Building of the Louisiana State Fairgrounds. I’d like to remind you that this performance tonight was a benefit performance for the YMCA of the city of Shreveport. Elvis receives no money whatsoever for his performance here tonight. All of the proceeds other than the actual expenses of presenting the show will go to the Shreveport YMCA. I must say this for you young ladies and gentlemen. You have been exactly that: Young ladies and gentlemen, and we are very proud of you for your performance here tonight. It’s been so nice having you with us. If you’d like to sit down now, we’re going to go on with the show here in just about five minutes. You’re listening to the Louisiana Hayride, coming to you from the Youth Building at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds, home of the Centenary College basketball games for 1957''.

Elvis spent the night in Shreveport before he went home the next morning. "The Shreveport Journal" described the scene at the hotel as follow: “The Rock And Roll Czar had a reasonably quiet departure on Sunday morning. About 50 of his fans gathered in the "Captain Shreve" lobby to see leave their idol. A lot of police officers and security of the hotel protect Elvis, so that teenagers do not tear him to pieces in their infatuation''. Elvis gave still some autographs.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

LIVE BROADCAST RECORDINGS FOR ELVIS PRESLEY
FOR KWKH'S LOUISIANA HAYRIDE, SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA, 1956

HIRSCH YOUTH CENTER
LOUISIANA FAIRGROUNDS, SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA
SUNDAY DECEMBER 16, 1956 - VIEWING TIME TV-STATION KWKH
SESSION HOURS: 8:00 PM
PRODUCER - HORACE LOGAN

Live Performance Published for Historical Reasons

Elvis Presley made his final performance on ''The Louisiana Hayride''. The now legendary fraise ''Elvis has left the building'' was first made by Horace Logan on this night.

01 - "HEARTBREAK HOTEL" - B.M.I. - 2:42
Composer: - Mae Boren Axton-Tommy Durden-Elvis Presley
Publisher: - Elvis Presley Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - HRA1-8689
Recorded: - December 16, 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-16 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956
Reissued: - April 16, 2016 Memphis Recording Service (LP) 33rpm MRV 4000 1256-C/5 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

Only the second half of ''Heartbreak Hotel'' was recorded. For completeness, the first half of the song is taken from Elvis' performance in Tupelo Mississippi on the September 26, 1956 show.

02 - "LONG TALL SALLY" - B.M.I. - 2:37
Composer: - Enotris Johnson-Richard Penneman-Robert Blackwell
Publisher: - Southern Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - HRA1-8690
Recorded: - December 16, 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-17 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956
Reissued: - April 16, 2016 Memphis Recording Service (LP) 33rpm MRV 4000 1256-C/6 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

03 - "I WAS THE ONE" - A.S.C.A.P. - 3:14
Composer: - Aaron Schroeder-Claude DeMetruis-Hal Blair-Pepe Pepers
Publisher: - MCA Music
Matrix number: - HRA1-8691
Recorded: - December 16, 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-18 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956
Reissued: - April 16, 2016 Memphis Recording Service (LP) 33rpm MRV 4000 1256-C/7 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

04 - "LOVE ME TENDER" - B.M.I. - 3:38
Composer: - Vera Matson-Elvis Presley
Publisher: - Elvis Presley Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - HRA1-8692
Recorded: - December 16, 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-19 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956
Reissued: - April 16, 2016 Memphis Recording Service (LP) 33rpm MRV 4000 1256-C/8 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

05 - "DON'T BE CRUEL" - B.M.I. - 3:06
Composer:- Otis Blackwell-Elvis Presley
Publisher:- Elvis Presley Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - HRA1-8693
Recorded: - December 16, 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-20 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956
Reissued: - April 16, 2016 Memphis Recording Service (LP) 33rpm MRV 4000 1256-D/1 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

06 - ''LOVE ME'' – B.M.I. - 3:08
Composer: - Jerry Leiber-Mike Stoller
Publisher: Jerry Leiber Music-Mike Stoller Music
Matrix number: - HRA1-8694
Recorded: - December 16, 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-21 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956
Reissued: - April 16, 2016 Memphis Recording Service (LP) 33rpm MRV 4000 1256-D/2 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

07 - ''I GOT A WOMAN'' – B.M.I. - 3:36
Composer: - Ray Charles
Publisher: - Progressive Music
Matrix number: - HRA1-8695
Recorded: - December 16, 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-22 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956
Reissued: - April 16, 2016 Memphis Recording Service (LP) 33rpm MRV 4000 1256-D/3 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

08 - ''WHEN MY BLUE MOON TURNS TO GOLD AGAIN'' – B.M.I. - 2:49
Composer: - Willie Walker-Gene Sullivan
Publisher: - APRS
Matrix number: - HRA1-8696
Recorded: - December 16, 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-23 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956
Reissued: - April 16, 2016 Memphis Recording Service (LP) 33rpm MRV 4000 1256-D/4 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

09 - ''PARALAZED'' – B.M.I. - 2:44
Composer: - Otis Blackwell-Elvis Presley
Publisher: - Elvis Presley Music Incorporated-Kobalt Music
Matrix number: - HRA1-8697
Recorded: - December 16, 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-24 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956
Reissued: - April 16, 2016 Memphis Recording Service (LP) 33rpm MRV 4000 1256-D/5 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

10 - ''HOUND DOG'' – B.M.I. - 4:56
Composer: - Jerry Leiber-Mike Stoller
Publisher: Jerry Leiber Music-Mike Stoller Music
Matrix number: - HRA1-8698
Recorded: - December 16, 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-25 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956
Reissued: - April 16, 2016 Memphis Recording Service (LP) 33rpm MRV 4000 1256-D/6 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

11 - ''ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING'' - 2:02
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - December 16, 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-26 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956
Reissued: - April 16, 2016 Memphis Recording Service (LP) 33rpm MRV 4000 1256-D/7 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

12 - ''HAYRIDE END JINGLE'' - 0:44
Matrix number: - None
Recorded: - December 16, 1956
Released: - 2011
First appearance: - Memphis Recording Service (CD) 500/200rpm MRS 30001256-27 mono
THE COMPLETE LOUISIANA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES 1954-1956

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

Vocal Accompaniment by The Jordanaires consisting of
Gorden Stoker - Tenor Lead Vocal
Neal Matthews - Tenor Vocal
Hugh Jarrett - Bass Vocal
Hoyt Hawkins - Baritone Vocal

Some of the shows from the ''Louisiana Hayride'' were very poorly recorded. The most up to date technology has been used to restore the original tapes. Every efforts had been made to achieve optimum quality however, priority is given to its historical content.

DECEMBER 16, 1956 SUNDAY

The Shreveport Times wrote in an article from December 16, 1956: To Aid YMCA Elvis has reportedly made a million dollars or more in the last couple of years – he commands top pay for his performances – but last night he did his gymnastics for nothing. But the singer and the members of the KWKH Hayride contribute receipts to the Shreveport YMCA’s expansion program. Elvis seemed to be glad to perform for nothing – and certainly he didn’t spate the gyrations, For 35 minutes or thereabouts he gave what can certainly be described as an “unforgettable” performance. It was a big night for the Shreveport police force, too. With teenagers giving every indication of tearing the Pelvis limb from limb out of sheer admiration and animal spirits, the police threw up more or less effective barricades throughout the building. They were effective enough to keep Presley from being mobbed, but just barely. It required considerable agility to keep up with him as he fled from one room to another – always a step or two ahead of his admirers. All in all, it was a big event in several respects and a good time was had by all, maybe Elvis more than anybody else. Whether Shreveport will ever be the same again remains to be seen''.

For Elvis Presley's Biography See: > The Sun Biographies <
Elvis Presley's 1954-1955 live recordings can be heard on his playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

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© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©