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 Post subject: Elvis at the Louisiana Hayride
PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 5:21 pm 
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The Louisiana Hayride is one of the most popular country music radio shows in the U.S. Since 1948 it is transferred from the Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport / Louisiana, and was surpassed in the 1950s only by the "Grand Ole Opry" in popularity. The epithet of Hayrides is "Cradle of the Stars" because the show was known for many musicians as a springboard to a career and for his musical innovation.

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The beginning of the Hayride

On 3. April 1948 the Louisiana Hayride first went on the air. The Saturday night show was initiated by Henry Clay and Dean Upson, who belonged to the management of the radio station KWKH in Shreveport.
From 1948, the program was broadcast weekly. The reception was initially limited to Louisiana and the surrounding states. From 1954, a 30-minute excerpt was transferred overseas via the AFN network. And over the CBS network the show reached entire North-America.
Horace Logan played an important role in the development of the most influential radio show in the country. Horace Logan’s career in radio began when he was 16 years old and won a contest as an announcer for KWKH. After his military service, he opened a gun shop, but was persuaded to come back to the radio. Along with Station Manager Henry Clay and the commercial Director, Dan Upson, he set out to establish the single Jamboree, which was a serious rival to Nashville's famous Grand Ole Opry. The name "Louisiana Hayride" was chosen because it suggested and also localized country music. Logan was the author of the slogan "Elvis has left the building".

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Horace Logan

The Municipal Auditorium was a modern building with good acoustics, a capacity of 3800 seats and much larger than the Grand Ole Opry's Ryman Auditorium.
It had a large balcony that curved around on either side of the stage, and giving the room a natural echo. The balustrade was decorated all around with a small wrap of velvet, and the main room had folding chairs that could be taken up for dances and basketball exhibitions. Behind the stage were spacious dressing rooms and a large, common dressing room on the second floor were set up as a meeting place for artists. Admission to the Hayride cost 60 cents for adults and 30 cents for children.

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The Hayride-audience was a noisy and enthusiastic crowd, the balconies packed to the rafters. There were various colleges and universities around Shreveport and also the Barksdale Air Force Base. From there, the young people came - just like the fans of the enthusiastic East Texas music scene. Microphones placed in the middle of the audience took on the enthusiasm of the crowd for the radio transmission.

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The Hayride Stars......

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... and their audience

Hayride impresario Horace Logan gave the performances a dramatic touch when he took the stage with a fancy, wide-margined cowboy hat and six guns. The emcee Ray Bartlett spiced his appearances with somersaults and back flips.

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Announcer Frank Page, Norman Bale and Horace Logan

The rise and fall of the Louisiana Hayride

One of the first stars was Hank Williams and Kitty Wells. But other stars like Faron Young, Slim Whitman, Web Pierce, Jim Reeves, The Carlisle's, David Houston, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley were among those who made their debut on the Hayride. Elvis Presley was a member of the ensemble for 18 months after he had failed at the Grand Ole Opry. The Louisiana Hayride was mostly in the shadow of the Grand Ole Opry. "The Cradle of the Stars" - as the Hayride was called - was especially emerging talent as a springboard, but offered also established musicians who the strict regime of the Grand Ole Opry did not want to undergo, opportunity to gigs.

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After the leaving of Elvis Presley, the show experienced a gradual decline. Only temporarily tape recordings of old shows were played. The station KWKH-retired and in 1969 the shipments were definitively set. David Kent took over the naming rights in 1975 and revived the Hayride 1973-1987 again.
The show was performed in a different building with a reduced array of stars on. From 1984 the show was transferred additionally on television. Three years later they moved back to the Municipal Auditorium. The successes of the times from 1948 to 1960 could no longer be tied and the show was stopped again. There were plans to restore the Municipal Auditorium and be held the Louisiana Hayride there again. Meanwhile, the restoration was carried out successfully under new owners.

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Municipal Auditorium today

The current owner of the Louisiana Hayride is Maggie and Alton Warwick, which not only revived the Municipal Auditorium and its surroundings, but also the Hayride with its tradition of voice and supporter of local and regional talent.
In many respects the Louisiana Hayride supplanted the Grand Ole Opry in two ways. Both programs were focus on Country music and oriented with its 50,000 watt signals on the same area. At the Louisiana Hayride new artists and new musical innovations were welcome - in a way which never pulled the strictly traditional Grand Ole Opry into consideration.
While the Opry very rarely, if ever, an artist who had taken no hit, did occur, the Hayride did the opposite and let aspiring performers, so that they could find an audience. And while at the Opry electric guitars were banned, it was welcome on the Hayride - an instrument that helped to transform the "hillbilly music" to the new hybrid form of music was the rock 'n' roll.

Elvis' debut on the Hayride

Elvis' first trip to the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport was memorable. After an appearance in the "Eagles Nest" (a popular locality), on Friday, 15th October 1954, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and Sam Phillips loaded into two cars and drove, a good seven- or eight-hours ride from Memphis to Shreveport.

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They left Memphis after midnight and arrived about dawn. They missed the turnoff at Greenville, Mississippi, because Bill Black had everybody laughing so hard at one of his jokes, and then Scotty Moore almost hit a team of mules as they struggled to make up the time. Sam Phillips booked rooms at the Captain Shreve Hotel, the town's finest lodging. They reached Shreveport the next morning and checked in at "Captain Shreve Hotel" in the inner city.

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Captain Shreve Hotel in den 50th.

They washed their faces quickly (waiting for Elvis, while he was combing his hair), and then they started their round through Shreveport's music scene.
They met with T. Tommy Cutrer, a local DJ at KCIJ Shreveport, who played Elvis' songs on his radio show. Tommy Cutrer was recently involved in a car accident and still recovering from his leg amputation. Undaunted, he cheered the boys with stories and promised to spread the message about their evening concert.

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Tommy Cutrer

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Elvis and T. Cutrer

Next, they visited Pappy Covington, the grandfatherly booking agent and manager of the Hayride building. He gave the boys the feeling to be rising stars (what they were, as it turned out).
Sam Phillips stopped by Stan's Record Shop at 728 Texas Street, Shreveport, just around the corner of the auditorium, where they chatted with Stan Lewis, a prematurely white-haired twenty-seven-year-old veteran of the music business who had started out supplying five jukeboxes from the back of his parents' Italian grocery store for sale Elvis' records. Stan Lewis was the largest independent record distributor in this area.

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Stan Lewis

From there it was only a short walk to the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, which was home of the Hayride. Shreveport was similar to Memphis. The tolerance of races won on the laws of segregation of Jim Crowe. Shreveport was a relatively liberal city and allowed the mixing of black and white music.
Meanwhile Elvis drifted over to the auditorium. It was bigger than the Opry, with spacious dressing rooms for the stars and a large common dressing room on the second floor. The folding chairs on the floor could be taken up for dances or basketball exhibitions, and the balcony curved around on either side of the stage, giving the room a natural echo. He walked out on the stage with his eyes fixed on the floor, looked up once briefly as if measuring the crowd, and then walked back to the hotel.
For his initial Hayride performance, Elvis Presley appeared early in the evening in a special segment that promoted new talent and was sponsored by Lucky Strike cigarettes. Elvis sing both sides of his Sun release during a spot that lasted about five minutes. Both Horace Logan, the Hayride's program director, and Tillman Franks, manager of KWKH Artist Service, recall that Hayride performances were done in two parts, and on this first night, they agree that Elvis Presley appeared on both sections.

"The first show was a little slow, it was a country music audience that was used to listening to traditional country", said D.J. Fontana. "I think what they did was after the first show they went home and told their kids about it, all about the new boy down there that they should go see. So the next thing you know all the kids started coming' in and that helped out quite a bit".

Tommy Sands, another frequent guest on the "Hayride", remarked, "Elvis learned to work an audience. With his excellent voice and commanding stage presence, he became a local favorite". The "Louisiana Hayride" turned out to be a pleasant experience. As soon as Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black walked into the Municipal Auditorium, Horace Logan made them feel at home. A tall, slender, grandfatherly gentleman, Logan had an intuitive feeling that Elvis Presley was the forerunner of a new type of country music. As Elvis Presley prepared for the "Hayride" show, Logan talked for almost an hour with him about the distinctive appeal of his records. There was no doubt this calmed Elvis Presley prior his first "Hayride" show.

On 6 November 1954 Elvis signed a one-year contract for all Saturday night shows. Because Elvis was underage, Gladys and Vernon came to Shreveport to sign the contract with. Per appearance got Elvis $ 18, Scotty Moore and Bill Black each $ 12. The Hayride was the basis of Elvis' early rise to stardom.
During the following year he would travel nearly half a million miles on his tours, often before an audience which heard him for the first time at the Hayride broadcasts. The entire year 1955 Elvis came every Saturday night back to Shreveport for his appearances.
An interesting note: Elvis made on 6 November 1954 advertisement for a product, namely Southern Made Doughnuts. He sang the jingle "You can get 'em piping hot after four pm. Southern made Doughnuts hit the spot, you can get' em piping hot after four pm.
It is not known if Elvis' voice had influence on the sale of Southern Made Doughnuts.
Elvis frequented the Shreveport store for donuts on his visits to the Louisiana Hayride (common “knowledge” is that this was the first and only advertisement that Elvis ever made, what is untrue - like so much other things what is said about him).

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Frank Page recalls: “Sam (Philips) called us on KWKH and also sent a rough draft of "That's All Right, Mama", a black blues song, which was recorded about 15 years ago by a black singer named Arthur Crudup, and a bluesy interpretation of Bill Monroe's bluegrass tune "Blue Moon of Kentucky". The recording was very successful in the area of Memphis. Well, there are plenty of stories about how we freaked out when we heard this recording. But the truth is that during this time neither Elvis nor the two songs fit into the scheme of the hayride or the country music and we knew if we take him purely on the show, we take a risk. Horace Logan asked Norm Bale and me to listen to the record. Sam Phillips said in his call several times that this was a white boy and before I heard the recording, I wondered why he said that, since there was no colored country singer at the time. When we listened to the song, I knew why.
Elvis' style was more black than white, and his performance was more rock than country. Here was a native son of the South, and sang like a colored person. The Hayride had a reputation for taking risks, we were open to innovation. And so we decided that we should give Elvis a chance and booked him for an appearance on the show. We started to play the recording on KWKH and before he arrived, the song was popular.”
On Saturday, the 16th October 1954 Elvis was probably one of 20 singers that should occur as planned. The show usually began at 08.00 pm; Lucky Strike was one of the sponsors and after the Lucky Strike amateur competition, shortly after 09.00 pm, Elvis stepped on the stage. The audience applauded politely. Not unusual, but also did not get as much applause as some other artists in the show.

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Frank Page: “Horace (Logan) usually placed before the main attraction, but because Elvis was a stranger, I was asked if I accept the idea to introduce him. Very often we improvised our intros and this night was no exception. Had I known how famous would be these words, I would have been thinking about it. They were first printed in a Look magazine, later in hundreds of books and newspapers. Presumably, each radio station of the nation has a cassette of the event and would last but least recorded on 46 bootleg albums - from Taiwan to Timbuktu.
Elvis was noncommittal and polite. He didn’t wobble and gyrating, had not his famous smile, where you could see his teeth, and an occasional stuttering. Elvis sang both sides of the recording and started with "That's All Right, Mama." It was a bluesy Beale Street song, which received wide acclaim. "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was ultimately a country song, although Bill Monroe it has never sung this way. “
On the first presentation of these recordings, you can hear that the sound engineers of the radio clearly cranked up the volume of the microphones, which were in the audience, as to get more applause. It was not a sensational start for the man who of the period of a few months was named "King of Rock 'n' Roll", whose recordings turned into gold and each of his albums achieved platinum status.

Frank Page:” Remember that I spoke this evening with Elvis backstage. I was interested in whether he was wherever he appeared, accepted since we had to make a decision about whether we should let him appear on the show. He said he would have occurred in some clubs in the area around Memphis and readily acknowledged that an older crowd was not too thrilled with him, but that it was the teenager who loved what he was doing. That I could understand. He was a handsome boy, dressed conservatively. Elvis brooded for a few weeks on the rejection, what he had learned on the Grand Ole Opry and had just decided to give up singing when he got the chance to perform on the Hayride. If we had rejected him, he might have given up. He told me that Jim Denny, who led the Opry talent office, told him he should get better drive trucks and that he would never make it as a singer. (J. Denny gainsay this remark).That discouraged the teenager. I told Elvis that he should not listen to such advice, try it and form his own opinion without listening to anyone other than to himself (this statement is controversial). We booked Elvis again for the show and on 6 November 1954, we offered him a one-year contract on our stage at Union Scale. That translated into the princely sum of 18$ per week for Elvis and 12$ each for Scotty and Bill. It was obvious that he could stand on his own and this offer of good, steady work afforded him the opportunity to hone his craft and gain valuable experience and exposure. Elvis was there where he wanted to be. Soon the young people came in droves, "bean shooters" - as we called them.”
On Elvis last appearance at the Louisiana Hayride, on 15 December 1956, there was a mass hysteria among female fans, who Horace Logan with the famous slogan "Please young people, Elvis has left the building, he has gotten in his car and driven away ..... Please take your seats“, tried to calm down.
Al Dvorin was the regular announcer for Elvis during the 70's. He chose the slogan of Horace Logan and its version you can also hear on various live recordings: Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building. Thank you and goodnight. "

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Frank Page

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F. Page at KWKH

After Elvis' appearance at the Grand Ole Opry on 02.10.1954, there were up to his debut at the Louisiana Hayride at 16.10.54 following concerts:
06.10.1954 - Memphis , Eagles` Nest
08.10.1954 - Atlanta , Silver Slipper
09.10.1954 - Memphis , Eagles` Nest
13.10.1954 - Memphis , Eagles` Nest
15.10.1954 - Memphis , Eagles` Nest

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Scotty, Elvis and Bill before the Eagles Nest 9.10.1954

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9.10.1954


to be continued....


Last edited by AngelEyes on Sat Oct 05, 2013 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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 Post subject: Re: Elvis at the Louisiana Hayride
PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 6:33 pm 
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The Louisiana Hayride Shows

16. October 1954

On a typical Hayride night mostly were as many people behind the scenes as on stage. The Louisiana Hayride was a big social Saturday night event.
The headliner of the Hayride show was Floyd Tillman, born in Oklahoma and known for his hit "Slipping Around". Other artists were Betty Amos, Jeanette Hicks, Buddy Attaway, Jack Ford, Hoot & Curls and Martha Lawson. The current heartthrob of the ladies was Tibby Edwards - both on and off stage.

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Tibby Edwards

The usual general admission price for the Hayride was 60 cents, for reserved seats $ 1, children paid half the price; Cokes and popcorn cost each 5 cents. Approximately 2816 visitors passed through the gates of this evening Municipal Auditorium, not realizing that their music or their world would change forever so to speak.

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Shreveport Municipal Auditorium in the 50s.

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Entrance

When Elvis Presley arrived at the auditorium, he went backstage to meet with the announcer, Frank Page. D.J. Fontana, and others on the Hayride staff. Page gave him a rundown on how the show operated. "They knew how many people had become stars by being on the Hayride. I talked to Elvis. He was a little discouraged by the things that had happened so far, about being turned down by The Opry, about not getting kick-started like he wanted to be. I encouraged him and told him to just do his thing".

After the meeting, Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore, and D.J. Fontana went to the dressing room so D.J. could listen to the records. They had never performed with a drummer and were looking forward to it, particularly after their reception at the Opry. D.J. listened to the songs, asking questions about what they wanted him to do, offering his ideas. "I figured the best thing for these guys was to stay out of the way", says D.J. "Why would I clutter it up with cymbals? I'll just play the back beat and stay out of their way. They already had the good sound".

On the evening of Elvis' debut on 16 October 1954, Horace Logan strutted across the stage to the microphones to open the Hayride. Behind the scenes watched a nervous Elvis. This was by far the biggest event on which he had appeared up to now.
Horace Logan: “Is anyone here from Mississippi? Someone from Arkansas? Let us hear the friends from Oklahoma! Now where is Louisiana? And how many of you are from the great state of Texas? ". The band intoned "Raise a Ruckus Tonight" and the crowd joined in: “Come along everybody, come along while the moon is shining bright, we’re going to have a wonderful time, at the Louisiana Hayride tonight”.
Emcee Frank Page introduced Elvis Presley and the Blue Moon Boys. With Elvis, Scotty, and Bill standing on stage in front of the backdrop, a thin curtain on which was painted a barn, a wagon, trees and moss.

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Hayride backdrop

The sign of the station KWKH Louisiana Hayride and the banners were stretched across the stage. In Lucky Strike cigarettes hung a banner with the logo "LSMFT" (Lucky Strike Means fine Tobacco). Sam Phillips, who accompanied Scotty, Bill and Elvis, watched from the fourth row, as Elvis was presented. Page tried to engage Elvis Presley in conversation.
Frank Page: Lucky Strike guest time now. Just a few weeks ago, a young man from Memphis/Tennessee recorded a song on the Sun label, and in just a matter of a few weeks, that record has skyrocketed right up the charts. It’s really doing good all over the country. He’s only nineteen years old. He has a new, distinctive style….. Elvis Presley. Let’s give him a nice hand. We’ve been singing your songs around here for weeks and weeks and weeks.
Page: “ Elvis, how are you this evening?”
Elvis: “Just fine. How’re you, Sir?”
Page: “Are you all geared up with your band there?”
Elvis: “I’m all geared up!”
Page: “….to let us hear your songs?”
Elvis: “Uh, well, I’d just like to say how happy we are to be down here. It’s a real honor for us to get a
chance to appear on the Louisiana Hayride. We’re gonna do a song for ya… You got anything
else to say?”
Page: “No, I’m ready”.
Elvis: “We’re gonna do a song for ya we’ve got on Sun Records. It goes something like this”… (Elvis
sings “That’s All Right, Mama”.)

Page; “I’d like to know just how you derived that style, how you came about it with that rhythm and
Blues style. That’s all it is. That’s all you can say”.
Elvis: “Well, sir, to be honest with you, we just stumbled upon it. I mean, we were….
Page: “Just stumbled upon it….”
Elvis: “… stumbled upon it.”
Page: Well you’re mighty lucky, you know?
‘Elvis: “Thank you”.
Page: They’ve been looking for something new in the folk music field for a long time…..
Elvis: Well…..”
Page: “... And I think you’ve got it”.
Elvis: “We hope so…”.
Page: “All right. How about flipping the record over there, that Sun recording, and doing the other side
for us?”
Elvis: “Okay”. (Elvis sings “Blue Moon Of Kentucky).

Whether Elvis' stage fright was the cause or the fear of a new audience or the unique manner of his performance - his appearance was received just as unspectacular by the audience as on his debut on the Grand Ole Opry a few weeks earlier. Elvis and Sam Phillips put their heads together during the break. Sam admonished Elvis just to be himself and to make the show in his own unique way. Everything what could happen would be that he would fail and that could happen if he did not relax and would be loose.
The second show was different. It was a young audience that was hungry for excitement. Great applause arose when the first bars of "That's All Right, Mama" sounded. It was not a Country music, it was ‘Rock 'n' Roll and the crowd loved it. They jumped up, clapped and danced to the hot rhythms of the beat. They did not like that Elvis stopped. Like a circling dervish rocked Elvis’ to “That's All Right, Mama”"and" Blue Moon of Kentucky ". The Hayride saw the birth of its biggest star.

Elvis was dressed in a pink jacket with a black shirt and a colorful tie, white pants and two-tone shoes. Scotty Moore and Bill Black had on Western shirts.

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Frank Page: When Elvis first came onto the stage and began to sing, he sorta rocked forward on his feet and looked like he was about to leap right out into the audience. He shook his legs just a bit, but believe that was nerves more than anything else.
All in all, I‘d say he showed restraint before the spectators were mostly older, married couples. When it comes time for his performance, it seemed at times pinned in, like he was struggling to contain this enormous kinetic force. It slipped out a little there at the end and to my surprise the audience seemed to connect with and even appreciate what Elvis was doing. His two upbeat and bluesy songs were plopped down right in the middle of a run of classic country. As a result, Elvis stand out more from all others than perhaps by its pink color presentation.”
Sam Phillips wasted no time negotiating with Horace Logan for a one year contract. Over the next week or so, a deal was put together guaranteeing Elvis and his boys a fifty-two week run on our stage.”

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Article in Memphis Press Scimitar , 23.10.1954

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The following artists had a hard time with the audience. With each passing country favorite, though the audience found they were unable to shake the memory of what they just witnessed, unable to deny the energy that spread like a virus among them. As each act concluded, they chanted for the return of the folk artist with the pelicular magnetism and began to shift in their seats and grumble when he failed to reappear.
The act they’d come to know as family now seemed distant and boring for them. Slowly but surely they built their enthusiasm for the young trio from Memphis, and as Elvis, Scotty and Bill later the 2nd time were called out, the reception was very different.
They began to talk about his appearance, and although Elvis repeated the same two songs, he was more relaxed, more in tune with the pleasure of the audience. The result of these performances garnered him the invitation to return and a spot as a regular on the Louisiana Hayride ensemble.

In the following weeks Elvis was "adopted" by both - the artists and the fans of the Louisiana Hayride -and built on a second "home base" in Shreveport - as a kind of counterpart to Memphis - and continuously perfecting its new "mixed sound” - the rockabilly.
Back in Memphis Elvis was hailed by the local press, which boasted that the rapidly rising hillbilly singer was a member of the Louisiana Hayride show now.

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Article at the Memphis Press Scimitar, 20. October 1954

Despite the statement of his father that he "never saw a guitar player that was worth a damn" Elvis acknowledged his job as a driver for Crown Electric's and lay down on a career as a singer determined. Regardless of whether they approved of it or not, Gladys and Vernon Presley supported her son's decision and accompanied him on his next trip to Shreveport to sign the contract for their minor son.

6. November 1954

The advertisement for this week's show lists Elvis fourth out of fourteen acts, behind Slim Whitman, Jim Reeves, and Jim Ed and Maxine Brown. Also guest on this show were the duo of Jim Ed and Maxine Brown along with Willie Jones, "The Singing Emcee" of Corpus Christi's Texas Jamboree

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Hayride Advertisement 6.11. 1954

The 6th November featured Elvis first show as a regular guest at the Louisiana Hayride. In the first three weeks since his first Hayride appearance everyone was telling that this "Hillbilly Cat" was really something special and you should see him. Elvis did not worry about whether or that he had to give encores. With only two singles in the luggage, the trio completed their performance with covers of "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry", "Fool, Fool, Fool" and "Sittin 'On The Top Of The World".

As the strong channel signal from KWKH went beyond the Southwest and the radio program was broadcast to millions of households, Elvis gained the attention of young people everywhere. Joyce Railsback was a teenager growing up in the west Texas town of Big Spring, which was located about 500 miles from Shreveport.
Every Saturday she turned on the radio and listen to the Louisiana Hayride show, until her parents called “lights out!” Even then, a flash light would keep her writing down details of the Hayride-program in her diary well past bedtime. When Elvis "Fool, Fool, Fool" sang that evening, she wrote:
“He has a strange and different style and may go places with it”. Truer words were never spoken.

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Elvis and the Browns at Pine Bluff’s Trio Restaurant

On 6 November 1954 Elvis and his parents signed the one-year contract.

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13. November 1954

Elvis Presley and the group holed up at the Al-Ida Motel in Bossier City, across the river, and the girls started showing up almost as soon as they arrived, as if they sensed his presence. For a kid who had spent scarcely a night away from home in his nineteen years, it was like being away at summer camp: he had always loved flirting with the girls, he loved playing with them and teasing them, but now there was no one around to see that it didn't go too far. And they didn't seem too concerned about it either. In between shows at the auditorium he would peek out from behind the curtain, then, when he spotted someone that he liked, swagger over to the concession stand, place his arm over her shoulder, and drape his other arm around someone else, acting almost like he was drunk, even though everyone knew he didn't drink.
In the period after signing the agreement Elvis manager was Bob Neal. Neal was a DJ who hosted a country music show in the morning on WMPS in Memphis. He was one of the few people who was known for his honesty, his integrity and his total dedication to those he represented, is known.

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Bob Neal

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Sam Phillips, Elvis and Bob Neal at the contract signing, December 1954 – beginning on 1.1.1955

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Contract between Elvis and Bob Neal

The following article appeared on 29.December at the Memphis Press Scimitar:

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Throughout December, Elvis, Scotty and Bill traveled back and forth from Memphis, playing gigs in nearby Helena/Arkansas, Corinth/Mississippi and Gladewater/Texas. Billboard Magazine called the act “the hottest piece of merchandise on the Louisiana Hayride” and cited Elvis as “the youngster with the hillbilly blues beat”. They played in schools, church social events, service areas, night clubs and even at the inauguration of a new central ventilation system of a building.

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Elvis live at the Mint Club in Gladewater/Texas 22.11.1954

Shake, Rattle and Roll” and “Hearts Of Stone”, two current rhythm and blues hits, were added to their song list and “Milk Cow Boogie Blues” became Elvis’ third release on Sun Records.
When Elvis was in Shreveport, he lived primarily in hotels that were called at that time "tourist courts", .the Al-Ida Motel and the Shirley Temple Courts were typical haunts.

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Al-Ida Hotel, Shreveport

Fridays Elvis often breakfasted with Stan Lewis, owner of a famous local record shop. Stan usually paid because the Hayride paid not very much. Elvis retaliated for this favor in return and gave autograph sessions in Stan's record shop, which is just a few blocks away from KWKH's studio, at the Texas Road

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Elvis signing autographs at Stan Lewis Record shop


Stan's Record Shop in the 70th.

Often he could be found at the nearby "Murrell Stansell's Bantam Grill, where he played pin ball. Harry's Barbeque was also a renowned meeting-place. If he had time, he went into the movies," The Strand "or" The Don Theaters ".

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The Strands in the 50s.

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.. and today

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Don Theater

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Murrell Stansell's Bantam Grill

27. November 1954

After a week in East Texas, Elvis Presley returned to Shreveport for another appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride".
Elvis stopped working for Crown Electric in November because his increasing popularity was demanding more and more of his time. Among the places that Elvis Presley and his band played late in 1954 were Sweetwater, Lufkin, Longview, Boston, and Odessa, all in Texas.

4. December 1954

Elvis Presley performed his regular Saturday night gig on the Louisiana Hayride, Municipal Auditorium, Shreveport, Louisiana.

11. December 1954

Elvis made another appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride". He was also a guest on the "Red River Roundup" record show, which followed the "Hayride" on KWKH radio at 11:00 p.m., the latter hosted by "Balin"-wire Bob Strack. Strack kidded Elvis Presley about his music, remarking that Presley's records were very popular. Pointing his finger out the window, Strack laughed as fifty lovesick girls stared through the KWKH glass pane. Strach commented on other signs of Presley's popularity. The screams from girls in the audience at the "Hayride", Strack remarked were not typical of the show. "You're something special", Strack informed Elvis Presley. Strack also commented that phone calls requesting Elvis' music tripled when he performed in the Shreveport area. During the interview, Strack asked Elvis Presley about his success: "I never had too high hopes or ideals, because... the circumstances of our lives didn't give room to dream too big...“ Elvis Presley responded. This humility was honest and characteristic of Elvis Presley during his early years. He was still unaffected by show business.

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"Balin"-wire Bob Strack

In the "Folk Talent & Tunes" column in Billboard, it was reported that "the hottest piece of merchandise on the "Louisiana Hayride" at the moment is Elvis Presley, the youngster with the hillbilly blues beat".

18. December 1954

Elvis Presley again appeared on the Louisiana Hayride, Municipal Auditorium, Shreveport, Louisiana. While driving to appear on the Saturday, December 18, 1954, "Louisiana Hayride" show, Elvis Presley thought a great deal about his upcoming recording session and it was important to record another regional hit record.

According Carolyn Bradshaw, ''I had been out to California to do a show with Ernie Ford. He had a daily radio show and a Saturday night TV show in Los Angeles. There was a young woman on the show who was pregnant, and I replaced her the last three months of her pregnancy. When I came back to the Hayride, Elvis was there. All the girls were telling me, 'You're gonna have to see this new guy, wow''! I was thinking, 'Who is this upstart? He can't be that hot'. When I saw him, it wasn't just that he was magnetic, like an electric eel, he was exactly my type''.
Carolyn was presented that night as a special guest, and Elvis Presley instantly invited Carolyn to come out for a few shows the next week.

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Elvis and Carolyn Bradshaw at the Hayride backstage, 18.12.1954

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to be continue


Last edited by AngelEyes on Sun Oct 06, 2013 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.


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 Post subject: Re: Elvis at the Louisiana Hayride
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8. January 1955

Elvis spent his 20th Birthday on the Hayride. He just came back from a fresh series of appearances in eastern Texas and carried fleet shoes made from crocodile leather.
They arrived in Shreveport by the afternoon, and as usual they dropped by Hayride booking agent Pappy Covington's office, always looking to see if Pappy had any work for them. Johnny Horton was there, and Elvis had taken an instant liking to ''The Singing Fisherman'', as he was called. After exchanging pleasantries, Elvis told Johnny that he had a new record coming out, and Johnny easily persuaded Elvis to sing ''Milk Cow Blues Boogie'' right there on the spot.
Elvis is introduced as the ''Memphis Flash'' and described to the radio audience by announcer Frank Page as wearing crocodile-skin shoes with pink socks. Elvis performs ''That's All Right'', ''Hearts Of
Stone'', ''Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', and ''Fool, Fool, Fool''. The "Memphis Flash" gave a rousing performance, which caused fan Joyce Railsback to write in her diary: "This Guy I'd like to meet!”

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An article in Billboard's "Folk Talent & Tunes" column reported that Bob Neal had takeover the personal management of Elvis Presley, "who in a few short months has catapulted to a top spot on the "Louisiana Hayride". Sun Records released Elvis' third single, "Milk cow Blues Boogie"/"You're A Heartbreaker" (SUN 215). Elvis Presley resumed his weekly appearances on the "Louisiana Hayride" in Shreveport.

15. January 1955

Back in Shreveport, Elvis Presley made another appearance on the "Louisiana Hayride".
That night Elvis was definitely the most colorful and flashiest character who took the stage. He was wearing a rust-colored suit with a purple tie with black dots, pink socks and crocodile leather shoes.

Introduced as ''one of the newest and finest stars'', he took the stage shortly after 20.30 and decided to begin with "Heart Of Stone, a popular R & B number, which he had rehearsed a few weeks ago. Next up was "That's All Right, Mama" and he added "Tweedlee Dee," another R & B song that was recorded this morning by Lavern Baker.
Jimmy Day on steel guitar and Floyd Cramer on piano completed the sound. Floyd's trademark, the “slip note” play, and Elvis liked the Honkytonk- style. Both would work more often in the future studio recordings together.

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Floyd Cramer

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Jimmy Day, Scotty Moore, Elvis and Bill Black

On that fateful evening sat for the first time a man in the audience who connected with Elvis forever.
A former barker at fairs and current manager of Hank Snow, who was known as Colonel Tom Parker. Parker and his assistant, Tom Diskin, arrived in Shreveport that night. They booked into the Captain Shreve Motel and zoomed over to the Municipal Auditorium to see the show.
Col. Parker was not overly impressed, but was at least interest enough to have conversations with Bob Neal about helping him book some dates for Elvis and his band.

After the show, there were always new girls to meet, old friends to see, and Elvis Presley basked in the celebrity status. D.J. Fontana recalled that, "Elvis had barrels of energy. We'd get off a date at night and have to drive maybe four hundred to five hundred miles and he was so keyed up he'd wanna talk all night. So we'd stop the car at a restaurant and me or Scotty or Bill - whoever's turn it was - would walk him down the road a mile or so".

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22. January 1955

Elvis came back on 22 January and gave another, audience pleasing, appearance. Again, steel guitar and piano was taken to, but this time with the Hayride musicians Sonny Trammel and Leon Post, and thus brought a slightly different interpretation to the routinely "That's All Right, Mama" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky". Elvis added to his repertoire "Money Honey" - another popular R & B number, which was a hit of "The Drifters" and took a run at "I Do not Care If The Sun Do not Shine" that was the back of his second Sun single, "Good Rockin 'Tonight". This was very surprising, as "I Do not Care" was written currently for Walt Disney's "Cinderella", but did not make it into the final version. In the early 50’s, Patti Page and Dean Martin sang the song, but in a different version

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Sonny Trammel

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Scotty, Sonny Trammel, Elvis and Bill

Perryman, a Gladewater, Texas promoter, had booked Elvis Presley for five dates in Texas and Alabama. It took Logan a great deal of time to negotiate the contract, because the "Hayride" wanted more money for Elvis' appearances. Perryman, a shrewd promoter, hoped to make quick killing with this Elvis tour. Reluctantly, he agreed to a $750-a-night guarantee.

Colonel Tom Parker informs Bob Neal by letter that he has booked Elvis on the Hank Snow Tour from February 14 to 18, sending both a contract and a check made out to Elvis Presley for $425, a 50 percent advance on what he can expect to earn for the tour.

5. February 1955

When Elvis Presley and the band arrived in Shreveport, there was a telegram waiting from Colonel Tom Parker. After summarizing the almost two weeks of bookings he had ready, Parker wrote, ''We will appreciate you giving these dates a good plug on your show tonight. Give me best to Pappy, Horace Logan, Scotty and Bill, and hope you have a complete sell out tomorrow in Memphis''.

Elvis Presley performed at the three o'clock and eight o'clock shows at the Louisiana Hayride. It has been reported that wearing pink pants and tie with a charcoal jacket, he performed "Uncle Pen", ''That's All Right'', Blue Moon Of Kentucky'', Tweedle Dee'', and Money Honey'' on this date. Faron Young, the headliner, was supported by Martha Carson, Ferlin Husky, the Wilburn Brothers, and Elvis Presley was listed as the closing act.

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A four-column story in the Memphis Press-Scimitar of February 5, 1955 announces:

Thru the Patience of Sam Phillips -
SUDDENLY SINGING ELVIS PRESLEY ZOOMS INTO RECORDING STARDOM

That 'Something' Has Captivated Fans Over the U.S.

By Robert Johnson, Press-Scimitar Staff Writer

One sultry night late last July, Dewey Phillips flicked a turntable switch with one of his cotton-pickin' hands and sent a strange rhythmic chant spinning out from WHBQ.
"Well that's all right baby...that's all right, baby..." The record ended. Radio like nature, abhors a void and Mr. Phillips hastens to fill the breach. "That'll flat get it", he said authoritatively. That same night, Sleepy Eye John over WHHM tossed the other side of the record on his admirers - and the same voice which had been reassuring. Baby now sang plaintive praise of "Blue Moon Of Kentucky".

Something Happened

Time didn't exactly standstill, but something happened. Bob Neal of WMPS played the record, too. The pop jockey's, entranced by something new, began slipping "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon" in among the more sophisticated glucose and bedlam of Teresa Brewer, Nat Cole and Tony Bennett.

In less than a week, a momentous change began for a young teenager, working on an assembly line, who liked to sing and play the guitar.

His name: Elvis Presley.

Elvis' first record was on the Sun label of Sam Phillips' small but ambitious Memphis Recording Services, 706 Union. It wasn't the first time that Sam's Sun has created a good-sized ripple in the frenzied circles of record business. Sam is largely responsible for a new trend in the field which the trade publications call rhythm and blues (for rhythm and blues) and country (or hillbilly) music, and for making Memphis the rhythm and blues capital, as Nashville is for rustic rhythm.

Within a Week

Within less than a week, Sam was frantically and painfully trying to press enough copies of Elvis' debut platter to catch up with a 6000 backorder
which hit him before the record had even gone on sale, before it had been released in any market outside Memphis.

And overnight, a restricted but indubitable mantle of fame settled about Elvis, as the record went spinning out across the country - 100,000....200,000....300,000....still going. Within a month, Elvis was invited to appear on hillbilly heaven: Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. Veteran entertainers kept him singing backstage, after the show.

On Juke Box Jury

The record was played on Juke Box Jury. "Blue Moon" had been written and first recorded some years earlier by a famous, Grand Ole Opry entertainer, Bill Monroe of Kentucky. Tennessee Ernie Ford, on Juke Box Jury that night, drawled: "If ole Bill Monroe hears this, he'll just take (his I’ll) ole country band and head back for the hills". Monroe himself, far from being offended, sent Elvis a note of thanks. After Elvis brought it out, six other companies made it with their stars.

Billboard gave Elvis' first record an 85 score, very high, on both sides. Over a 15-week period, only one other record in the same category had an equal rating, and that was by the established star, Webb Pierce.

Sam Phillips still hasn't figured out which was the big side. "That's All Right" was in the rhythm and blues idiom of negro field jazz, "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" more in the country field, but there was a curious blending of the two different music in both.

Two More

Sun brought out two more Elvis records - "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine" and "Good Rockin' Tonight", "Milk Cow Blues Boogie" and "You're A Heartbreaker". Billboard's annual poll disk jockey’s of 1954 landed Elvis in the list of Ten Most Promising artists on the strength of them....

In A Class Alone

Sam doesn't know how to catalog Elvis exactly. He has a white voice, sings with a negro rhythm which borrows in mood and emphasis from country style.

Marion Keisker, who is WREC's Kitty Kelly and Sam's office staff, calls Elvis "a hillbilly cat".

While he appears with so-called hillbilly shows, Elvis' clothes are strictly sharp. His eyes are darkly slumberous, his hair sleekly long, his sideburns low, and there is a lazy, sexy, tough, good-looking manner which bobby soxers like. Not all records stars go over as well on stage as they do on records. Elvis sells.

In the merry-go-round doesn't start spinning too fast for a 20-year-old, he'll end-up with enough cheeseburgers to last a Blue Moon.

Spin 'em again boys.


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In the coming weeks Elvis and the band had several appearances in Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. This tour also included a stop in Lubbock / Texas on 13.February, where Elvis was billed as "the be-bop western star of the Louisiana Hayride and shared the stage with Hank Snow's son and Jimmy Rodgers show.
Col. Parker helped with to book them for Hank Snow's tour, which began in mid-February. And with every appearance grew Elvis' trust and his popularity skyrocketed. Elvis felt now on stage very well and often told jokes or made flippant sayings in order to find a pleasant contact with the growing teenage audience. His hip and leg movements were a natural byproduct of his seemingly endless energy. He was owned and driven by a temperament that few understood, but was expected very fast with.
Bill Myrick remembers: “When Elvis came on stage, people became aware immediately that he had become a star. He played furiously. He tore the strings right off his guitar and he kept on performing. I didn't think they were ever going to let him off that stage, they were yelling so hard. Elvis asked 'em, 'What y'all want me to do? Stay out here all night? They really cheered at that prospect".
Although they only played 2 Saturdays in February and three Saturdays in March, the band's income increased from $ 2,000 in January to $ 5,000 in March, before it leveled off at $ 1000 per week. From now on, the choice for a career as a musician, paid off for the hard-working trio.

When Elvis Presley completed the tour on February 18, he had delivered one of his strongest shows. The audience was younger, louder, and more responsive to the music. They asked for pictures of Elvis Presley, but there were none to sell.
Apart from the constant demand for his records, realized Tom Parker, there was clearly an opportunity to sell pictures, trinkets, and junk merchandise at great profit. At the time, then, Parker viewed Elvis Presley from the standpoint of a sideshow attraction, and probably had little understanding or appreciation for the exact nature of the appeal of Presley's music. The sound and substance of Elvis' act was a puzzlement, the result were quite clear, however - money could be made, and lots of it.

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Scotty, Leo Jackson (sitting), Sonny Trammel, Elvis and Bill, 19.2. 55 at the Hayride

A brief mention of Elvis appeared in Billboard. According to the report, he was "hot" in Eldorado, Arkansas. "His style really pleases the teenagers". Back in Shreveport, Elvis Presley performed his regular Saturday night spot on the "Louisiana Hayride".

Across the river from Shreveport, in Bossier City, and next to the Al-Ida Motel where Elvis usually got a free room because the owners felt sorry for his financial plight and wanted to help, Elvis frequented a restaurant owned by George Dement, who would later become mayor of Bossier City.

"He ate, and ate big, in here", said Dement. "We had this sort of short, low cigarette machine. It had the only mirror on it that we had in the restaurant. Elvis was kind of tall and had sideburns and every time he'd look at himself in that mirror he had to stoop down. Every time he'd walk in, we'd punch each other and say, 'Watch him. He's gonna stoop down and comb his hair when he goes by', and sure enough, he would. He primped every time he'd walk past that mirror".

5. March 1955

Elvis appeared on that portion of the "Louisiana Hayride" which was telecast by Shreveport, Louisiana, station KWKH-TV, the local CBS affiliate. This was Elvis' first TV performance, and he was introduced on the show by Horace Logan. (Elvis' previous "Louisiana Hayride" shows were broadcast on radio only).

''Guest number 13. What an applause he received!'' wrote Joyce Railsback in her diary. At the Louisiana Hayride, Elvis was now a star. Even over the radio, the ovation greeting his arrival was spectacular. His set seemed to change very little, despite the Hayride's edict that performers maintain a fresh repertoire: ''Tweedlee Dee'', ''Money Honey'', and ''Shake Rattle And Roll'' were not Elvis' own records, but they had become mainstays in his concert appearances and on the Hayride as well. This Saturday evening, though, he had added another of his Clovers favorites, and enthusiastic revved-up version of their 1954 rhythm and blues hit, ''Little Mama''.

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On 19 March 1955 Elvis played a show in Houston/Texas. He took the stage that night and, after some good-natured clowning, he unleashed a wild and chaotic performance that was palpable. It’s not hard to imagine how his shoulders hunching forward and how he slammed his head back as he shouted at Scotty and Bill “Let’s rock”. He began his trance-like delivery of “Good Rockin’ Tonight” and moving to a rhythm all his own. Next he followed up with Ray Charles current hit “I Got A Woman” which sent many teenage girls into orbit and left Joyce Railsback scribbling “Me!” in her diary.
Tommy Sands who was the opening act recalls: “I felt that he appeared to have something to prove. I could see a drive in Elvis Presley that most of us didn't have. He knew what he wanted and went after it. Elvis Presley pulled out all the stops, and the audience loved the show”
As every young man, Elvis had a propensity for speeding and was nabbed just outside of Shreveport on the way back from Houston. Snug behind the wheel of his flashy new pink Cadillac he was pursued by a state trooper for nearly 90 miles up Mansfield Road at speeds described by the curiously Officer as “exceeding 80 miles per hour”. The “subject” then was carried to the Caddo Parish Jail where he bonded out at 25$.

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Speeding Ticket

During the month of April, Elvis toured criss-cross through Texas, played in high schools of cities like Breckenridge, Stamford and Seymour, in major Sportatorium in Dallas (home of the Big D Jamboree) to small, intimate scene in the Owl Park in Gainesville.
On 26.April 195, a dream came true for teenage girl Joyce Railsback of West Texas. She would meet the man of her dreams. Elvis appeared at the City Auditorium of her home town Big Spring.
Scotty, Bill, and Elvis rolled into Big Spring with sleep on their mind. The previous night's double booking had kept them playing until the wee hours of the morning. They found a motel in Big Spring and crashed for a few hours.

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City Auditorium, Big Spring/Texas in the 50’s

Joyce remembers that Elvis wore a pink pant and a pink shirt that was black piped. After the show, Joyce, in silent reverence, approached to Elvis and handed him a Hayride program to sign. On the back she had taped a newspaper photograph, on which he wrote "Yours, Elvis Presley." Joyce managed to say "Thank you“and Elvis answered "Well, thank you." With these words he enchanted again a teenager who floated on clouds.
Four days later his dream car had problems on the way to the Hayride in Gladewater, an engine failure. He brought the engine running again and made it just before the final announcement of the show,

26. April 1955

Through his delay, caused by damage to the motor, Horace Logan squeezed in the ever popular "Memphis Flash" just in the last moments of broadcast. Elvis sang a half-hearted rendition of "Tweedle Dee".

The trio performed in May 1955 only once at the Louisiana Hayride, touring mostly in Texas and Mississippi.
On May 7, 1955, Elvis travelled with the Hank Snow Show to Daytona/Florida. That's where Mae Boren Axton had met him a few years earlier. Mae met them at the motel. Mae recalls:"I had gotten up real early and gone and done an interview about the show that night and about Elvis, and I came back around eleven, and, you know, the back of the motel was facing the ocean, the little rails were up there, the little iron rails. And I walked out of my door, my room was right near Elvis, and Elvis was leaning over looking at the ocean. Of course there were a lot of people on the beach, and I said, 'Hi, honey, how are you doing?' And he looked up and said, 'Fine'. He said, 'Miz Axton, look at that ocean'. Of course I had seen it a million times. He said, 'I can't believe that it's so big'. It just overwhelmed him.
He said, 'I'd give anything in the world to find enough money to bring my mother and daddy down here to see it'. That just went through my heart. 'Cause I looked down here, and here were all these other kids, different show members for that night, all the guys looking for cute little girls. But his priority was doing something for his mother and daddy".

In the interview he persisted in calling her Miz Axton, and she suggested that he "just make it, Mae". That makes it better.

Mae: “Elvis, you are sort of a bebop artist more than anything else, aren't
you? Is that what they call you?”


Elvis: "Well, I never have given myself a name, but a lot of the disc jockeys call
me, bopping hillbilly and bebop, I don't know what else...“

Mae: "I think that's very fine. And you've started touring the country and
you've covered a lot of territory in the last two months, I believe".

Elvis: "Yes, ma'am, I've covered a lot, mostly in West Texas is where, that's
where my records are hottest. Around in San Angelo and Lubbock and
Midland and Amarillo".

Mae: "They tell me they almost mobbed you there, the teenagers, they like you
so much. But I happen to know you have toured all down in the eastern
part of the country, too. Down through Florida and around and that the
people went for you there about as well as out in West Texas, isn't
that right?".


Elvis: "Well, I wasn't very well known down here, you know, I'm with a small
company and my records don't have the distribution that they should
have, but...“


Mae: "... You know, I watched you perform one time down in Florida, and I
noticed that the older people got as big a kick out of you as the
teenagers; I think that was an amazing thing".

Elvis: "Well, I imagine it's just the way we, all three of us move on the stage,
you know, we act like
we".

Mae: "Yes, and we mustn’t leave out Scotty and Bill. They really do a terrific
job of backing you up".

Elvis: "They sure do. I really am lucky to have those two boys, 'cause they
really are good. Each of them have an individual style of their own.


Mae: "You know, what I can't understand is how you keep that leg shaking just
as the right tem the time you're singing".

Elvis: "Well, it gets hard sometimes. I have to stop and rest it, but it just
automatically wiggles like that".

Mae: "Is that it? Just automatically does it? You started back in high school,
didn't you?"

Elvis: "Ah...“

Mae: "Singing around, public performances with school and things of that sort? “

Elvis: "Well, no, I never did sing anywhere in public in my life till I made this first
record".

Mae: "Is that right? “

Elvis: "Yes, ma'am".

Mae: "And then you just went right on into their hearts, and you're doing a
wonderful job, and I want to
congratulate you on that, and I want to say, too, Elvis, it's been very
nice having you in the studio...“


Elvis: "Well, thank you very much, Mae, and I'd like to personally thank you for
really promoting my records down here because you really have done a
wonderful job, and I really do appreciate it, because if you don't have
people backing you, people pushing you, well, you might as well quit".


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Elvis, Faron Young and Mae Boren Axton, 7. Mai 1955 in Florida

21. May 1955

As part of Billboard's annual review of country and western music, Elvis Presley ran a quarter-page ad which touted him as the "freshest, newest voice" in that field. Elvis, along with Onie Wheeler, returned to the "Louisiana Hayride".

For the first time since the Gladewater remote broadcast of April 30, Elvis Presley and Onie Wheeler returned to the Louisiana Hayride, which was broadcast from Shreveport.
Elvis Presley could try out new songs, when he sang Big Joe Turner's "Flip, Flop And Fly", a rhythm and blues standard that Elvis Presley was working into his act. When Elvis Presley played the Turner song backstage, Onie Wheeler suggested that it was inappropriate for the "Hayride" audience. Elvis Presley tried it out anyway.

The relationship between Colonel Tom Parker and Tom Diskin on one side, and Bob Neal and Elvis Presley on the other, had been somewhat strained during the spring, at least from the viewpoint of Jamboree Attractions. Internal correspondence between Parker and Diskin revealed uncertainly on whether they could trust Bob Neal, or if he was just using them. Diskin and Parker discussed between themselves whether it was worth the time and energy they put into it. At this point more fuel was added to the fire, as the package tour that Bob Neal had arranged in Texas in late May had been in direct conflict with the Colonel's own plan to tour Elvis with Hank Snow in the territory.

However, the just-completed three-week tour had given Parker a new perspective on Elvis' potential. Riot in Jacksonville or not, in most places Elvis had brought the house down, often eclipsing the success of the major stars on the show, including Hank Snow. In a May 25 letter, Tom Parker writes Bob Neal, reassuring him that he is not the type of person who would try to cut a manager out, and extends an invitation to Neal and Elvis, saying that if they want to tie in closer with him, he will be happy to sit down and try to work it out. The underlying concern is the reverse scenario, where Bob Neal will take on towns and territories where the Colonel has done the groundwork, and leave the Colonel out of the picture. To some extent, right or wrong, the Colonel feels that this is exactly what has happened in Texas. Parker decides that he needs to play along and offers to help, ''if there are any towns in Texas you don't mind us working on'', hoping that there would still be some towns where he could involved in the lucrative Texas market.

A second letter is sent off to Neal the same day, apparently due to a follow-up phone conversation after the first letter has been mailed. The tone in the follow-up letter is much firmer, and basically asks for protection, rights, and options for every place where Jamboree Attractions book or try to book a show. Colonel's immediate plans are for Elvis to play a week at the end of July on a Jamboree tour in Florida, headed by comedian Andy Griffith. The idea is mainly to cash in on the work they had done building up the May tour, getting back some of the investment in Elvis, as he had now established himself as a drawing power in Florida. The Colonel additionally outlines 10 days in September, revisiting places played on the May tour. Finally Colonel Parker suggests a further 15-20 dates in September and October going through new territory in Kansas, the Midwest, and possibly even Arizona. To underline that this is serious business, the Colonel asks for 200 photos, 100 newspaper mats and stories, in order to make press kits.

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22.5. – Elvis at the Hayride

By late May 1955, Colonel Tom Parker had proposed a management contract to Elvis Presley. He pointed out that Bob Neal was too inexperienced to promote Elvis Presley nationally, and that he and Neal had been booking Elvis Presley in kind of a quasi-partnership for some time anyway. "Colonel Parker was like a whirlwind, he never stopped", Tommy Sands remarked. "Bob Neal was slow, plodding, and careful", Ronald Smith stated. It was obvious to contemporary observers that Parker and Neal couldn't work together. "Everyone wanted the Colonel to manage them, including Elvis Presley", Sands pointed out.

Colonel Tom Parker was busy molding his future protégé into a mainstream musical act. The Colonel was impressed with Sam Phillips' regional success in merchandising Elvis' records. Not only were the Sun discs selling well, but they were purchased by a diverse mix of white country fans, young rhythm and blues devotees, and black people.

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As a result of Elvis Presley's unique pattern of record sales, Tom Parker paid more attention to the concert audience, and the way the fans reacted to Elvis' music. During his years in the country music field, Parker had always been intrigued by the changes in audiences. He recognized that Elvis Presley was a unique act, and during the Hank Snow tour he decided that Elvis Presley's special performing qualities, including his sex appeal and swaggering musical gyrations, were the outlandish key to his exceptional appeal.
Tom Parker had an old-fashioned sense of burlesque, and he urged Elvis Presley to exploit his stage mannerisms, suggesting that Elvis Presley add even more energy to his stage show.

Elvis Presley continues to gather speed over the South", writes Cecil Holifield, operator of the Record Shops in Midland and Odessa, Texas. "West Texas is his hottest territory to date", continues Holyfield, "and he is the teenagers' favorite whenever he appears.

At the beginning of June, came the end for Elvis' beloved pink Cadillac. About halfway to Texarkana in Fulton, Arkansas, Elvis Cadillac catches on fire and burn out. People recall Elvis sitting by the side of the road, looking desolate as he watched his dreams go up in smoke.
From Texarkana, Scotty returns to Memphis to get the new pink-and white Ford Crown Victoria that Elvis has recently purchased for his parents.

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Elvis’ burned Cadillac, 7.Juni 1955

According to Scotty Moore, ''We were staying in Texarkana, about 15 miles from the town where we’d played. What happened was a wheel bearing went out. Bill and I rode back with some of the other guys, 'cause Elvis his chick with him. They were comin' behind us. He wasn't paying' no damn attention to the car, and all of sudden he realized the damn thing was on fire. He couldn't put it out. All he could do is open the trunk and throw all our clothes and instruments out. The next date was Sweetwater, I believe. We took a small plane the next morning, barely got off the ground because instruments weighed so much. Brought folks' '55 pink and white Ford. Someone drove it down''.

11. June 1955

Elvis Presley returned to Shreveport and the "Louisiana Hayride", he lacked his normal energy. After Elvis Presley closed the show with "That's All Right", he complained to Scotty Moore and Bill Black that he was tired. The Blue Moon Boys and Elvis Presley were scheduled to perform twenty of the next twenty-five nights. Bill Black complained that they were musically ragged because of the heavy tour schedule, but everybody knew that the road was necessary, especially Elvis Presley, who had just purchased a new pink Cadillac and had car payments to make.
In a letter from Tom Parker to Tom Diskin, Parker argued that it would take ''patience and skill'' to develop Elvis in order to present him in new territories. He blamed Neal for inability to handle Elvis, and suggested they go slow, watching Elvis and Neal. Parker's anxiousness was fueled by the news that the readers of The Cash Box magazine had chosen Elvis as the ''most promising male vocalist of 1955'', making the progress of Elvis' career obvious to everyone in the business. They very next day, the Colonel sent another letter to Neal, further emphasizing the need for planning, stating that he was ready to take over after the July tour in Florida and Neal's bookings for the first week of August. He went on to say that Neal should send him all contracts, especially the Hayride contract, as he believed they could do better on this issue.

A meeting between Neal and Parker eventually took place on June 17, and Parker managed to convince Neal to let his office take care of all bookings. They agreed to get Elvis away from Sun, and that Bob Neal should remain Elvis' personal manager.

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Elvis w. Jim Reeve and Leon Post (wearing sunglasses) backstage at the Hayride 11. June 1955

25. June 1955

Elvis Presley returned to the "Louisiana Hayride" for his regular headline spot.
Elvis Presley's new record “Baby, Let's Play House”) was a song that the religious leaders of that time condemned as "encouraging for pre-marital relationship." His performance was spirited, but colored by a bit hard irony when he sang the text that he had converted a few months ago of "maybe you have a religion" to "maybe you've got a pink Cadillac". The next song was "Good Rockin 'Tonight" and the ever popular song "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was on the repertoire too.

Irrespective of the fact that Elvis had just played for $175 per day on the Hank Snow tour, the Colonel now promoted Elvis with a $500 price tag and an insistence on top billing, aiming to put together a two-week tour for September. Moving full speed ahead, the Colonel expresses his doubts to Tom Diskin, stating that he is unsure of whether Bob Neal is double-dealing, and complains about what he sees as Neal ''milking Elvis in Texas''.
Scotty and Bill teamed up, together with Floyd Cramer and Jimmy Day, "Meet Mr. Callahan", an instrumental number.
David Houston, Johnny Horton, Tibby Edwards and the Browns completed the program this evening.

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At the Hayride, 25.June 1955

2. July 1955

Elvis next Saturday night performance on the Louisiana Hayride was on 2.of July. Elvis had been on the road constantly since Christmas, and Bob Neal arranged for him to take a break in early July. Besides, Neal needed time with Elvis to discuss the issue of his record company, and the record company needed a new single for August 1955.
Elvis got a new car. He bought a brand new black 1955 Cadillac, requesting that it be re-painted pink. Scotty Moore bought a new guitar, replacing his Gibson ES 295, while Elvis picked up a customize leather cover for his guitar, to protect it from getting scratched by his belt buckle.

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2. July 1955 at the Hayride

16. July 1955

A turning point occurred for Elvis Presley on July 16, 1955. This was a special day because it marked a significant step forward in his career. His fourth single, ''Baby Let's Play House'', had entered the Cash Box's country and western chart at number 15. This marked Elvis appearance on the National charts, as opposed to the State charts he had been in previously. This National appearance coincided with an evening Hayride performance and in celebration of his national hit; he sang the flip side of the single to his Hayride audience ''I'm Left, Your Right, She's Gone''.
The single stayed on the chart for fifteen weeks, reaching a high of number 10. The summer issue of Country Song Roundup, show a picture of Hank Snow on the cover, featured the story "Elvis Presley - Folk Music Fireball", following national features in Cowboy Songs and Country and Western Jamboree.
Up to now, Elvis was backed on his live appearances primarily by Scotty Moore on guitar and Bill Black on bass. Elvis only occasionally used a drummer either on tour or in the studio before August 1955. When it came time to make the position permanent, D. J. Fontana, the staff drummer of the Louisiana Hayride and a member of Hoot and Curley's band in Shreveport, was the musician chosen.

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with D.J. Fontana

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16. July 1955, backstage at the Hayride


13. August 1955

Elvis Presley appeared again on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport. After the show, he drove back to Memphis.
Col. Parker pushed more and more into the business of Elvis and his manager, Bob Neal. He was instrumental that the band was frequently booked (most common is the Hank Snow tour) and put pressure on Elvis and his parents, to sign a contract that identified him as a "special adviser" for Elvis, while Neal remained as manager. In theory, this meant that he thereby helped in any form, expand Elvis' career, to encourage and promote it primarily in the southwest. Parker held the promotional rights for many cities and began to control Elvis' career on his own responsibility.

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Page 1 - Parker's first "agreement" w. Elvis

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Page 2 of Parker's agreement w. Elvis

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

During the late part of August 1955 and unbeknownst to Colonel Tom Parker, Bob Neal was already negotiating with Horace Logan a renewal of Elvis' Hayride contract. The current first year contract was going to an end on November 12, 1955.
All decisions, with respect to Elvis' career, had to go through the Colonel's office according to an agreement, naming Colonel Tom Parker as ''Special Advisor''. On this particular occasion, Bob Neal decided to take it upon himself to obtain some security for Elvis, but also more than likely, was asserting his independence from Colonel Tom Parker.

The contract was prepared and signed during the first week of September as reported in the Shreveport Times on September 8, 1955. Once again his parent's co-signed the contract as Elvis was still under the age of 21. The Hayride would now pick up the Presley option for $200 an appearance which was a fair increase compared to his current contract that paid the union scale of $18 a show.
The contract also stipulated that, ''...artist is given the right to miss one Saturday performance during each 60 day period''. Horace Logan also added a sideline note that $400 must be paid to the Hayride for every additional show Elvis would miss.

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All this was done very much to the objection of Colonel Tom Parker. He urged Vernon Presley (Elvis' father) not to sign the agreement, as he felt that there was no need for a committed contract. He was close of a new recording contract with a major label. However, in Vernon's mind wanting some kind of financial security, he signed the agreement that took hold on November 11, 1955, just as Elvis present contract would end.

Only a few days later transacted Col. the sale of Elvis' contract with Sun Records to RCA for the sum of $ 35,000.

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RCA contract

10. September 1955

Elvis Presley returned to the Louisiana Hayride without the Blue Moon Boys. Following his performance, he took a commercial flight from Shreveport to Norfolk, Virginia. Scotty Moore, Bill Black, and D.J. Fontana, loaded up the car and took the long drive up to Norfolk for the scheduled show on Sunday.

The battle for control between Colonel Tom Parker and Bob Neal continued. In a letter dated September 15, Bob Neal told the Colonel that Elvis' calendar was full until November 19, and a tour that Colonel Parker proposed, with Elvis as part of a Hank Snow package, would have to wait until the new year. Neal concluded that ''the best thing in view of Elvis' own opinions'' would be an arrangement, where the Colonel would just buy Elvis for future shows, like any other promoter.

Two days later, Bob Neal wrote Colonel Parker to inform him that he was withdrawing from their arrangement. The Colonel immediately sent Elvis the correspondence trying to secure his relationship with the young, indecisive artist, inviting him to stop by his Madison office after the last show of the current tour and get the speaker the Colonel had for him.

Whether Elvis accepted the Colonel's invitation to visit on his way home is not known.

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10. Sept. 1955, backstage at the Hayride


1. October 1955

Elvis Presley returned to Shreveport for his regular appearance on the Louisiana Hayride at the Municipal Auditorium tonight on 8:00 till 11:30 p.m. The guest artist on this date was Billy Walker, a Hayride semi-regular, Buzz Busby and the Bayou Boys, Johnny Horton, Hoot and Curley, Betty Amos, Jack Ford, Jimmy and Linny, David Houston, Werly Fairburn, Jeanette Hicks, Buddy Attaway, Jimmy Day, and many others. General admission, adults $1.00, children 50 cents, tax included. Tickets on sale at Harbuck & Womack.

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1. October 1955 – at the Hayride

The bookings for the week came through Tillman Franks and the Hayride office, and the towns played were all in the East Texas area where the Louisiana Hayride has its strongest following. Elvis and his band would spend all of October without drummer D.J. Fontana, who had to recover from an illness. Elvis didn't have a show on October 7, so he used the free time to accept an invitation to see Bob Wills at Cook's Hoedown in Houston.


8. October 1955

Elvis Presley remained in Houston as the Louisiana Hayride moved it's broadcasting location to the City Auditorium (Jesse H. Jones Hall) located at 615 Louisiana Street, for the evening. The Holiday On Ice Revue was booked into the Shreveport Memorial Auditorium.

Colonel Parker's meticulous collection of correspondence shows nothing in writing between him and Bob Neal since Neal's letter of September 21, where it was basically confirmed that Parker was now just a talent booker for Neal and Elvis. The lack of communication would be only natural under these circumstances, as no Colonel Parker bookings emerged during these weeks. On October 18, however, Colonel Parker wrote to Neal saying that he understood that Neal had told Elvis to ''advise me to go on with our present contract'', implying he had talked to the Presley’s earlier in the day and they had reached a decision to move ahead with the Colonel in the driver's seat. This shift of power didn't come about without hard work from the Colonel. Ever since the break at the end of September, Parker had bombarded Elvis and his parents with phone calls, emphasizing that they had to see the bigger picture (a new record deal and national TV exposure) and that he, the Colonel, would be able to deliver the goods. It's clear Elvis and his parents were impatient, as nothing much and changed since the August meeting, least of all the grueling schedule of live performances. Elvis had been on the road for almost two months solid, and at various points he felt lonesome, tired, and generally pessimistic about his situation. The checks were a little larger, but so were his expenses, both travel costs and the addition of drummer D.J. Fontana, and something drastic seemed necessary.

From the Colonel's point of view, the urgency was even greater. In the past month, he had lost his grip on the situation. Parker knew Elvis' ambitions and his own were unfulfilled under Bob Neal's management. It was Elvis or his father Vernon who told Neal of a change, while not letting him know that Parker was clear to negotiate a new record deal. Neal was definitely frustrated, wrote to the Colonel of a ''loose nut'' in the set-up, meaning Elvis, Vernon, or both. On Saturday, he called for a meeting in Memphis the following Tuesday not knowing that Colonel Parker would already be in New York, for a four-day stay at the Warwick Hotel with his wife.

The Colonel now made his definitive move. Armed with a document, signed by Elvis' parents, he was now authorized to negotiate a new recording deal for their son.


29. October 1955

Elvis Presley appeared on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport. Also featured tonight were George Jones, Johnny Horton, and David Houston. Also on the bill: Jimmy Newman, Jack Ford, Hoot and Curley, Buddy Attaway, Werley Fairburn, Buzz Busby and the Bayou Boys, Jeanette Hicks, Betty Amos, and many others. Elvis Presley sang Chuck Berry's "Maybellene".


12. November 1955

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.

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".

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.

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.

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Bob Neal, Sam Phillips, Coleman Tily and Colonel Tom Parker, Sun Studio, November 21, 1955.

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, and 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 things... 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 lot of 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".

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Jim Crudgington (local RCA distributor), Elvis Presley, and Coleman Tily (RCA attorney) at Sun Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee, November 21, 1955.

26. November 1955

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.

On 28 November RCA released the following bulletin:

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10. December 1955

Elvis Presley played the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport. Barbara Pittman from Memphis, who was a new Sun Record artist, was The Wilbourn Brothers, the special guest. "One night I was sitting with the Wilbourn Brothers when Elvis was on stage. Soon as he finished his set, he came down and told them I was his girlfriend and told them, 'I want you to stay away from my girlfriend'. I told him, 'Elvis, it ain't no big thing'. He held his hand about six inches apart and said, 'It's this big!'. That embarrassed me so much I had to get up and go on the ladies room", said Barbara Pittman.

According to JoAnne Phillips, ''We (JoAnne and her cousin Melba) and two other girls were standing there, when the young man selling pictures went in and told Elvis we were out there. Shortly after, Elvis came out. The other two girls were closer to the door, so he stopped and talked to them first. I took a picture of him leaning against the wall. When he got to Melba and me, I asked if we could have our picture taken with him. He said, 'sure' but he wanted to get his coat. It was pink like his trousers. I asked him to autograph my record center. He took it and looked at me, grinned and said, 'What's the matter? Don't you like my records'? I nearly died. The more I stammered trying to explain, the more he laughed. He was thoroughly enjoying teasing me''.

''Melba took my camera and said she would take my picture first with Elvis. He walked over and put his arm around me, and then all of a sudden he pulled me around and up against him and put his other arm around me. I completely stopped breathing; he was holding me so tight. On stage, he loved to pause between songs long enough that everyone would start shouting the song they wanted to hear. That night, everyone was shouting and I was yelling ''Money Honey''. He looked down at me and grinned, and I said 'please'. And he started singing it. I was thrilled to death''.

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10. December 1955, at the Hayride

17. December 1955

Elvis Presley performed on the "Louisiana Hayride" in Shreveport, Louisiana.
CBS-TV and Jackie Gleason announced that Elvis Presley had been signed to appear on "Stage Show" on four consecutive Saturday nights, starting January 8, 1956; NBC-TV had also been in the bidding for Elvis' first national TV appearance.


31. December 1955

Presley performed on the New Years Eve edition of the Louisiana Hayride broadcast from Shreveport. In this New Year's Eve show performed stars such as Johnny Horton, David Houston, George Jones. The special guest tonight was Johnny Cash and Ferlin Husky. But Elvis trumped all. Cash and Jones signed a contract a month before at the Louisiana Hayride and went on with Elvis in the first 3 months of the year in 1956.
Reportedly, Elvis Presley sang three new songs: "Heartbreak Hotel", a new one that he picked up at the disc jockey convention in Nashville the previous November, "Blue Suede Shoes", a song that Carl Perkins had just recorded for Sun Records, and "Peace In The Valley", one of his favorite hymns.
Admission was 60 cents, and for the present audience on this memorable evening the show was worth every penny of the admission price.

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Hayride advertisement 21.12.1955

...to be continue......



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January 1956

At the end of January, Elvis had the first of four consecutive appearances in the "Stage Show". Already in these early live recordings everyone realized that Elvis was a real phenomenon. The first time was visually demonstrated the nation his unique style of rhythm & blues, coupled with a spunky touch.
On the next following Saturday, after his 4th Appearance at the Dorsey "Stage Show" (18/02/1956) Elvis came back to the Hayride. He sang "Heartbreak Hotel" and the audience was thrilled as always. The crowd exploded like never before and you felt the enormous enthusiasm that went through the auditorium. Elvis was about to be ripped from "The Cradle of the Stars" and thrust into the international spotlight.
The next Hayride stars were George Jones and Johnny Cash, but no one would be a next Elvis Presley.

When the TV and movie offers began to pour in, it was incredibly difficult for Elvis and the band to come back every Saturday to Shreveport.
Col. Parker, by now in complete control of Elvis career, tried everything in his power to relieve Elvis of his Hayride obligations At one point, Parker offered to buy into the show, but he let the thought go, because the Hayride management did not come down with his demand of the final say in the decision making process. The management of the Hayride would not, could not, afford to surrender control of the program at any price.
Frank Page: “Ultimately, we knew we could hold this rising star no longer, so in early April of 1956 Elvis was allowed to buy out the remaining six months of his contract for the sum of 10,000$.

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Elvis' Buy out contract with the Louisiana Hayride

He had performed three Hayride dates in March and his appearance on the 31.March was allowed to be his last.

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Advertisement of Elvis’ last performance at the Hayride, 31.March 1956

Under the terms of hiy buy out agreement it was stipulated Elvis would do one more Hayride show at a later date with the proceeds to benefit the charityof his choice. The date was December 15, 1956.

15. December 1956 – The final Hayride

Only by an article in the "Shreveport Times" on 1st December, the Shreveport citizens learned that Elvis came back to the city. In his announcement of Elvis' appearance on 15.December, Henry Clay, General Manager of the radio station KWKH, announced that the show was moved from the Municipal Auditorium in the Youth Center on the grounds of the Louisiana State Fairgrounds - the largest hall in the city, the Hirsch Youth building - to accommodate Shreveport resident found out the expected crowd. Elvis really loved Shreveport and put on one of his best shows ever in December 1956. There were no seat reservations and the tickets for the price of $ 2 in advance ($ 2.50 at the box office at the entrance) were available or could be purchased from: Security Jewelers, Domestic Appliance Center, Harbuc Sporting Goods, the Southern Made Doughnuts Company, the Central YMCA and Stan’s Record Shop. The proceeds were used to - besides other things - to build a Swimming pool for the Youth Building.

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Advertisement of Elvis’ show 15.December 1956 in Shreveport

On 13 December, two days before the concert, appeared an extraordinary article in "The Shreveport Times." Under the headline "Elvis wants to meet Japanese counterpart" reported Hayride director, Horace Logan, that a particular phone in a room of the Youth Center was installed, so that Elvis via an overseas cable could speak with Kazuya Kosaka, a Japanese singer, who occurred in the “famed-Elvis-the-Pelvis-Style”. In the article it was said that Elvis has 15 million fans in Japan. (Independently, in any of the following concert reviews was not reported whether the call had taken place or not).

Anyway, the "The Shreveport Journal," printed a photo of Elvis, on which he phoned an unidentified users.
On Friday the 14th December 1956 Elvis and three members of his entourage were getting ready to leave Memphis and drive their trip to Shreveport, home of the Louisiana Hayride. Along for the ride was director Hal Kanter, which collected the background information for Elvis upcoming movie "Loving You“

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Hal Kanter and Elvis on the set of “Loving You”.

On December 15, 1956; a yellow Caddy Limousine pulled in from Memphis at five a.m. and a weary Elvis checked into the Captain Shreve Hotel in downtown Shreveport. 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 Col. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Langston McEachern – Shreveport Times

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Jack Barham – The Shreveport Journal

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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".

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Elvis and Kay Wheeler

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 Col. 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. Col. 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.

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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, Col. 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 Col. Tom Parker.

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McEachern und 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.

Elvis in his green jacket and the Jordanaires in use with checkered jackets, continued to enable the audience to fever.

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Photo: JAT Publishing

..to be continue...



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15.12.1956 – with the Jordanaires, backstage

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backstage, w. Horace Logan

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with Stan und Pauline Lewis, owner of Stan's Record Shop

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: Heart Break 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.

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A cigarette breaks backstage – 15.12.1956

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15.12.56 - frenzy fans


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.”

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Bob Masters of “The Shreveport Times” wrote in an article:
Elvis Presley came to town yesterday, and last night 9,000 rock ‘n’ 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.”

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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 'n' 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, got into his white Cadillac and drove off to Memphis/Tennessee - his hometown.

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A goodbye to his fans in Shreveport, 16.12.1956


.. to be continue..



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 Post subject: Re: Elvis at the Louisiana Hayride
PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2013 10:50 am 
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“The Shreveport Times” wrote in an article from 16.12.1956:
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.”
In an article dated 17 December 1956 compared "The Shreveport Journal" Elvis with three former teen idols: “One thing is clear: the youth is a phenomenon," the Journal observed. “Cosby, Valle, Sinatra and all the others together in one person, did not get the same wild homage as the 21-year-old Mississippian receives. The strange thing is that Cosby, Valle and Sinatra have a definable talent. Presley, according to the standard none, but it is perhaps the prototype of a new form of entertainment. Anything you can do is to hope.
Elvis came back to Shreveport a couple of times after that memorable ’56 performance and regularly sent those responsible for the Hayride telegrams updating on his hectic career. With the medium of television now a permanent fixture and the change in popular music firmly in place, the Louisiana Hayride would fade from sight in the sixties, but for Elvis the journey was just beginning,
Many groups rush to take credit for Elvis Presley’s career but the Louisiana Hayride is not among them. He alone was responsible for creating and maintaining a style that remains unique to this day. Elvis gave a rise to Rockabilly which, in turn, became the heart and soul of modern pop music.
Frank Page: “Elvis called me on one occasion to urge us to keep the Hayride going and thank us for what we’d done for him. His last appearance in Shreveport was July 1, 1976.”
Elvis Presley fans and fan clubs are still coming to Shreveport and stop at the Municipal Auditorium, which still looks exactly like in the 50's. They want to stand where Elvis stood, want to see his wardrobe and where he lived. In recent times, the dressing room was decorated with pictures and stories of his Hayride performances and renamed the street in "Elvis Presley Avenue - a final tribute to this great showman.

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Frank Page: For Hank Williams and the other stars or superstars who entered our stage, the Louisiana Hayride was a place where we all met, they were together, a place where we rehearsed for the big moment. But we also met a family and Elvis - the favorite son. These 18 months, which he spent with us, are frozen in time - gone but not forgotten, his music and the energy of his performances. Who could ever forgotten his appearance, his clothes, the fever and the promise of "good rockin 'tonight"


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Municipal Auditorium today

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Elvis room

Slim Whitman: “Once when I came off stage after my act, Elvis said “Let me wear your coat”. I told him it was way too big for him but I let him wear it. As usual, his act tore the place apart and when he came off I kidded him “Man, the only reason you went over so big is because they all thought it was me out in that coat.”
Betty Amos: “I was very fond of Elvis but sometimes I didn’t like him very much. He could be sweet, gentle, kind and thoughtful, but perplexing and aggravating too. He was sexy, handsome, childish and, at times, downright cruel. He’d hit me and I’d hit him. Looking back, I suppose in all probability I was the closest he ever came to having a sister.”
Jeanette Hicks: “Elvis was one good locking man. Those eyes! He liked to play pee-a-boo. He used to sneak up behind me backstage, cover my eyes and say “Guess who?” in a funny voice. Well, there was no mistake who it was.”
Vera “Dido” Rowley: “I remember one Saturday night at the Hayride. Jim Reeves had gone to California for a screen test and I was sitting backstage with Elvis. He asked me “You ever think I’ll get a screen test?” I told him “Sure. You’ll be the biggest star ever”. He was flabbergasted. “You really think so?” I said “It’s written all over you”.

On the 50th Anniversary of Elvis' first appearance with the fee of $ 18 per night, a larger than life statue was erected in front of the steps of the Municipal Auditorium.

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Horace Logan died in 2002 in Victoria / Texas. Frank Page died four years later in Shreveport, the city in which some of the biggest and hottest talent of the rockabilly music made their way across through the country and their artistic successes can be most likely never copied.
Over 60 years have passed since the Louisiana Hayride with his music the bayous and swampy arms of the river its home countries, the westerly small towns and farms in Texas, north and east of the low-yielding farms of Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and neighboring states flooded with his music. To the live broadcasted Saturday night's show from the Municipal Auditorium danced the population on their porches, in living rooms, in the Honkytonks and even in churches throughout all the land.
In the 60s, television was the center of family activity and stars such as Bob Hope, etc. switched from radio to television. The Louisiana Hayride was not as important as formerly for rising stars. The TV was now the instrument by which they were known nationally – like Elvis' appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show was. In the 70s, the Hayride ceased to exist and the shows were set, his fame from a bygone era.
In 1975, Dave Kent contacted KWKH to buy the name of the Hayride. The name "Hayride" was never copyrighted and since the radio station had no intention of ever using the name again, Kent was more than welcome. The management of KWKH never had the foresight to leave to protect the name. But even more incredible was the sloppy method of employees to preserve the history of this important show. Around the time when Kent bought the Louisiana Hayride, KWKH moved of the longtime location in the Texas Road in Shreveport to a location on Interstate 20. Moving companies broke some things and threw others away. The management of the radio station asked Kent if he wanted an old box of recordings of the show, which was still in their possession. He sent out his son Joey Kent to pick up the old stuff, and while he was still there, they asked him if he can help to remove an old desk. When the desk was moved away, a reel dropped that was wedged between the desk and the wall, to the ground and wrapped itself off. Joey held the coil on his foot and discovered the name "Elvis" on the tape. When he and his father sounded, it turns out that it was the recording of Elvis Hayride debut.

It was a great success for the Louisiana Hayride and Elvis Presley. The radio broadcasts of the show made Elvis outside Tennessee’s a larger audience. Elvis ushered in a new musical era; his first single is considered the first “Rockabilly” single in music history.

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The early Greek philosophers said about the fame: as long as they pronounce your name, you will never be forgotten.


Source: Lousiana Hayride Archives, Joe Kent, Horace Logan, Frank Page, Scotty Moore, 706 Unionavenue, Newspaper archives.

Hope that I could give the readers with this report a good insight into Elvis' early career and its development, based on my research and the above sources.

So read .... and enjoy. :hello:



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 Post subject: Re: Elvis at the Louisiana Hayride
PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:59 pm 
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Thank you for all the research about Elvis and The Louisiana Hayride.I enjoy reading it.



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Liliane
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 Post subject: Re: Elvis at the Louisiana Hayride
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:04 pm 
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:hello: Angel Eyes you deserve a Award for giving us these So Special Articles, and Picture's. Thank You So Very Much! :love:



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Without you I am nothing an could never be so bold. The times we've shared, the laughter and the tears. Priceless memories, treasures all. How could I ever fail? With you I don't fear that at all. Elvis Presley!
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 Post subject: Re: Elvis at the Louisiana Hayride
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@- Liliane, your welcome.
It's my pleasure to write my reports for fans like you and others which love Elvis truly and enjoy informations about him. :D

@- Barb, thanks for your nice words - but a award is not my intension. I do it just for Elvis and his fans. He is the only one that should given more awards for his charity, his humanity and for his music. :wink:

So take care everybody. :hug:



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 Post subject: Re: Elvis at the Louisiana Hayride
PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2013 2:46 pm 
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:( How so Right you are Angel Eyes, that Elvis didn't More Awards then he did. I know Elvis would be so Appreciated in all of the time it took to post thgis for him and his Fans. :love:



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