In August 1955, Columbia Records picked up their option on Sun future recording
artist, Onie Wheeler's contract, renewing it at three percent. Onie returned to the studio next year in April 1956, with rock and roll looming large in his thoughts.
1, 1955 MONDAY
The singles, Sun 223 ''Mystery Train'' b/w ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget'' by Elvis Presley; Sun 224 ''Let The Jukebox Keep On Playing'' b/w ''Gone,
Gone, Gone'' by Carl Perkins; Sun 225, ''House Of Sin'' b/w ''Are You Ashamed Of Me'' by Slim Rhodes; Sun 226 ''Ain't That Right'' b/w ''Bring Your Love Back Home To Me'' by Eddie Snow are issued.
Johnny Cash plays the first major concert of his career, opening for Webb Pierce, Wanda Jackson and Elvis Presley at the Mississippi-Alabama Fairgrounds in Tupelo, Mississippi. They work four more cities over the next four days.
The Burt Lancaster western ''The Kentuckian'' debuts in movie theaters. Eddy Arnold's version of the theme, ''The Kentuckian Song'', is already a hit on radio.
AUGUST 2, 1955 THUESDAY
Drummer Jimmy Lowe, from Pirates Of The Mississippi, is born in Atlanta. He plays on the band's
lone hit, 1991s ''Feed Jake''.
AUGUST 3, 1955 WEDNESDAY
Elvis Presley's parents
are expected to sign a deal in Little Rock making Colonel Tom Parker an advisor to their son, but Presley's mother, Gladys, delays the decision.
AUGUST 4, 1955 THURSDAY
Overton Park Shell ''Country Music Jamboree'' Advertisement by Texas Bill Strength aired on this day.
6, 1955 SATURDAY
Hank Snow, Lefty Frizzell, Eddie Dean, Freddie Hart and The Collins Kids perform the first-ever country concert at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles
Philharmonic Orchestra. The evening is emceed by Songwriter Joe Nixon.
AUGUST 8, 1955 MONDAY
Dominic Joseph Fontana appears for the first time as a regular member of Elvis Presley's band at a show at the Mayfair Building in Tyler, Texas.
Decca released Ernest
Tubb's ''The Yellow Rose Of Texas''.
AUGUST 9, 1955 TUESDAY
Marty Robbins recorded
a version of Chuck Berry's ''Maybelline'' at the Bradley Film and Recording Studio in Nashville.
AUGUST 12, 1955 FRIDAY
Presley performs a concert at Driller Park in Kilgore, Texas. In the audience is Bob Luman, who is so om-spired that he forsakes traditional country for a future path in rockabilly-tinged country.
AUGUST 13, 1955 SATURDAY
Elvis Presley's ''Baby Let's Play House'' holding steady on the national charts and gaining airplay all over the country and
it was number 5 on Billboard's ''Most Played by Jokeys'' country and western list.
It was mid-August before Sam Phillips decided on the format he wanted to establish for the new radio station, but then it was an idea as revolutionary as the original concept for the studio had been, as defiant in its own way of established
tradition and something in which he believed just as strongly. Sam was going to establish the first All-Girl radio station in the nation.
Sam could advance any number
of good reasons for pursuing this course, and he continued to go over them with his brother-in-law, even though Jimmy Connolly at this point had no formal role in the new venture. Number one, women, Like Negroes, were an underutilized resource, a vast pool
of unappreciated talent in a highly competitive world.
Sam wife Becky, took it as a tribute. It was just what they had always talked about, it would serve as a true partnership,
it represented a mutual love for the very thing that had first drawn them together. She immediately started making plans for the kind of shows that she would do, for the way she would have to train the other girls. Sam Phillips had never known a better announcer
than Becky, from the time he first met her when she was just a seventeen-year-old high school student.
Marion Keisker was just as excited. She took it almost as much
as a tribute to her. She would quit her job as assistant program director at WREC, she told Sam, as soon as he was ready to go on the air. ''Don't do that'', he tried to tell her because he needed her at the recording studio, and besides, it would be a mistake
to put all her eggs in one basket before the station proved itself. But she was not to be gainsaid. Marion didn't think she'd ever been as excited about anything in her life, even if it meant giving up a guaranteed salary. And besides, she didn't tell Sam
this, she was barely able to admit it to herself, she was not going to be left behind.
Sam Phillips applied to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) for the station's
new call letters at the end of August. To match its new identity he had come up with the acronym WHER. At the same time Sam placed a classified ad in Broadcasting Telecasting magazine: ''Wanted: Fresh, friendly, female voice for metropolitan station. Must
be versatile, experienced, good looking. Unparalleled opportunity for girl who can quality''.
The underlying pretext was that there was a single position open, and all
responses were to be referred to Radio Station WSLC, Tri-State Broadcasting Service, at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis. One of the first responses came from a woman named Margie ''Dotty'' Abbott, a former Memphian with an extensive background in radio, music,
and theater who was presently assistant station manager at KONI in Phoenix, Arizona.
''Dear Margie'', Sam Phillips wrote back on September 8: ''I received your audition
tape and letter this morning. I have given all the material close attention and am very, very well pleased with your qualifications. I believe we have a job here that you would enjoy tremendous and which you could handle capably''.
''We mean to have a falicity that we, and the community, will be proud of. WE are going to handpick our personnel, being as sure as is humanly possible that each person is suited to the job and is extremely versatile
and flexible. The job we have in mind for you will be one of responsibility and importance, and you will be called on to do a variety of things, all of which you are apparently well trained and qualified to do. It will also mean that you will have to work
hard. As we all intend to do, but believe me, the work will pay off''.
The salary would only be $80 a week to start off with, Sam Phillips wrote, nothing like what she
was worth, but they were a new operation, who ''must of necessity proceed with caution insofar as salaries and all expenses are concerned''. But Sam was confident both of her success and the success of the operation, and once they all had their feet on the
ground, she could certainly expect more. ''I realize that all the information I am giving you about the new station is somewhat clouded'', Sam continued, ''and I am sorry that this is necessary, but we are keeping our plans a closely guarded secret, as the
immediate success of the station will depend to an unusually large degree on the surprise element''. Margie wrote back to accept the job, appending the news that she was going to go back to being ''Dotty'' when she returned to Memphis. The construction on
the new station at South Third began almost immediately.
AUGUST 15, 1955 MONDAY
Presley signs a deal making Colonel Tom Parker a special advisor to Presley and his manager, Bob Neal.
Columbia released Marty Robbins' version of Chuck Berry's ''Maybelline''.
Pete Seeger refuses to name other members of left-wing groups while testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee on Communism in Washington, D.C. Two years later, Seeger's
''Kisses Sweeter Than Wine'' becomes a country hit for Jimmie Rodgers.
AUGUST 16, 1955 TUESDAY
Faron and Hilda Young have a son, Damion Ray Young.
AUGUST 17, 1955 WEDNESDAY
Singer/songwriter Kevin Welch is born in Los Angeles. He pens such hits as Gary Morris' ''Velvet Chains'', Moe Bandy's ''Till I'm Too Old To Die Young'', Don Williams '''Desperately'' and Ricky Skaggs ''Let It Be You''.
AUGUST 18, 1955 THURSDAY
Steve Wilkinson, of The Wilkinsons, is born in Belleville, Ontario. The
Canadian family trio, which includes son Tyler and daughter Amanda, enters the national arena with its sentimental 1998 single ''26 Cents''.
AUGUST 20, 1955 SATURDAY
Johnny Cash's "Cry Cry Cry" (Sun 221) is on the Memphis country charts, eventually reaching number one on September 3, beating out such local favorites as Elvis Presley and The Louvins.
It even reached the national country charts for one week in November 1955. On the Memphis charts, it is covered the following month by Texas Bill Strenght.
Songwriter/guitarist Tim Buckley is born. He co-writes the Doug Supernaw hit ''Reno''.