Even the songwriter admitted it. The trio played publicly for the first time on July 17 at the Bon Air club - Elvis still sporting his child-size guitar.
A combination of his strong response to rhythm and nervousness at playing before a large crowd led Elvis to shake his legs as he performed: his wide-cut pants emphasized his movements, causing young women in the audience to start screaming. Moore recalled, 'During the instrumental parts he would back off from the mike and be playing and shaking, and the crowd would just go wild'.
Black, a natural showman, whooped and rode his bass, hitting double licks that Elvis would later remember as 'really a wild sound, like a jungle drum or something'. Soon after, Moore and Black quit their old band to play with Elvis regularly, and promoter Bob Neal became the trio's manager. From August through October, they played frequently at the Eagle's Nest club and returned to Sun Studio for more recording sessions, and Elvis quickly grew more confident on stage. According to Moore, 'His movement was a natural thing, but he was also very conscious of what got a reaction.
He'd do something one time and then he would expand on it real quick'. Elvis made what would be his only appearance on Nashville's Grand Ole Opry on October 2; after a polite audience response, Opry manager Jim Denny told Phillips that his singer was 'not bad' but did not suit the program. Two weeks later, Elvis was booked on Louisiana Hayride, the Opry's chief, and more adventurous, rival.
The Shreveport-based show was broadcast to radio stations in 28 states. Elvis had another attack of nerves during the first set, which drew a muted reaction. A more composed and energetic second set inspired an enthusiastic response. House drummer D.
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Fontana brought a new element, complementing Elvis' movements with accented beats that he had mastered playing in strip clubs. Soon after the show, the Hayride engaged Elvis for a year's worth of Saturday-night appearances. In October D. Fontana was hired to play drums for Elvis. Using a very bare-bones drum kit, D. By early , Elvis' regular Hayride appearances, constant touring, and well-received record releases had made him a substantial regional star, from Tennessee to West Texas.
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In January, Neal signed a formal management contract with Elvis and brought the singer to the attention of Colonel Tom Parker , whom he considered the best promoter in the music business. Parker, Dutch-born, though he claimed to be from West Virginia - had acquired an honorary colonel's commission from country singer turned Louisiana governor Jimmie Davis. Having successfully managed top country star Eddy Arnold, he was now working with the new number one country singer, Hank Snow.
Parker booked Elvis on Snow's February tour. When the tour reached Odessa, Texas, a year-old Roy Orbison saw Elvis for the first time: 'His energy was incredible, his instinct was just amazing, I just didn't know what to make of it. There was just no reference point in the culture to compare it'. Songwriters were obliged to forego one third of their customary royalties in exchange for having him perform their compositions. By December, RCA had begun to heavily promote its new singer, and before month's end had reissued many of his Sun recordings.
Elvis, at 20, was still a minor, so his father signed the contract. The session produced the moody, unusual Heartbreak Hotel , released as a single on January The program, produced in New York, was hosted on alternate weeks by big band leaders and brothers Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. The sessions yielded eight songs, including a cover of Carl Perkins' rockabilly anthem Blue Suede Shoes. Neal's contract was terminated and, on March 2, Parker became Elvis' manager.
Joined by five previously unreleased Sun recordings, its seven recently recorded tracks were of a broad variety. There were two country songs and a bouncy pop tune. As described by Hilburn, these 'were the most revealing of all.
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He not only injected the tunes with his own vocal character but also made guitar, not piano, the lead instrument in all three cases'. It became the first rock and roll album to top the Billboard chart, a position it held for 10 weeks. Rodman argues that the album's cover image, 'of Elvis having the time of his life on stage with a guitar in his hands played a crucial role in positioning the guitar, as the instrument that best captured the style and spirit of this new music'.
The first of his six appearances on Stage Show, a weekly variety program hosted by Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. He followed these with two appearances on The Milton Berle Show , the second of which included a performance of Hound Dog that was so provocative for that time, anyway that it caused a national scandal. Elvis next appeared on The Steve Allen Show , with Allen mocking the sensation of the Berle appearance by having Elvis dress in a tuxedo, eliminate his usual physical gyrations, and sing Hound Dog to a Basset Hound.
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Elvis Presley - Ed Sullivan Show. Ed Sullivan had once said he would never have the controversial singer on his top-rated show, but that was before the week that Elvis' appearance on Steve Allen had surpassed Sullivan's ratings. Elvis' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was a major success. Over 60 million people, both young and old, watched the show and many people believe it helped bridge the generation gap for Elvis' acceptance into the mainstream. When Elvis made his third Sullivan appearance in January of , Ed Sullivan surprised Elvis by telling him on camera that his show had never had a better experience with a name act, and said 'I wanted to say to Elvis and the country that this is a real decent, fine boy'.
It was on this very same Sullivan appearance that Elvis was shown on camera from the waist up only, one of early television history's most memorable moments. Elvis' next network television appearance was in , when Frank Sinatra gave his variety show a 'Welcome Home, Elvis' theme to herald Elvis' return from the army. Barbara Gray reveals a secret. His performance, on the deck of the USS Hancock in San Diego, prompted cheers and screams from an audience of sailors and their dates.
A few days later, a flight taking Elvis and his band to Nashville for a recording session left all three badly shaken when an engine died and the plane almost went down over Arkansas.
Twelve weeks after its original release, Heartbreak Hotel became Elvis' first number one pop hit. The shows were poorly received by the conservative, middle-aged hotel guests - 'like a jug of corn liquor at a champagne party', wrote a critic for Newsweek. Amid his Vegas tenure, Elvis, who had serious acting ambitions, signed a seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures. He began a tour of the Midwest in mid-May, taking in 15 cities in as many days.
It became the new closing number of his act. Edgar Hoover.
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It warned that 'Elvis is a definite danger to the security of the United States, His actions and motions were such as to rouse the sexual passions of teenaged youth, After the show, more than 1, teenagers tried to gang into Elvis' room at the auditorium, Indications of the harm Elvis did just in La Crosse were the two high school girls, whose abdomen and thigh had Elvis' autograph'. Berle persuaded the singer to leave his guitar backstage, advising, 'Let 'em see you, son'.
During the performance, Elvis abruptly halted an uptempo rendition of Hound Dog with a wave of his arm and launched into a slow, grinding version accentuated with energetic, exaggerated body movements. Elvis' gyrations created a storm of controversy. Elvis has no discernible singing ability, His phrasing, if it can be called that, consists of the stereotyped variations that go with a beginner's aria in a bathtub, His one specialty is an accented movement of the body, primarily identified with the repertoire of the blond bombshells of the burlesque runway'.
Ben Gross of the New York Daily News opined that popular music 'has reached its lowest depths in the 'grunt and groin' antics of one Elvis Presley, Elvis, who rotates his pelvis, gave an exhibition that was suggestive and vulgar, tinged with the kind of animalism that should be confined to dives and bordellos'. Ed Sullivan, whose own variety show was the nation's most popular, declared him 'unfit for family viewing'. To Elvis' displeasure, he soon found himself being referred to as 'Elvis the Pelvis', which he called 'one of the most childish expressions I ever heard, comin' from an adult'.
Allen, no fan of rock and roll, introduced a 'new Elvis' in a white bow tie and black tails. Elvis sang 'Hound Dog' for less than a minute to a basset hound wearing a top hat and bow tie. As described by television historian Jake Austen, 'Allen thought Elvis was talentless and absurd, he set things up so that Elvis would show his contrition'. Allen, for his part, later wrote that he found Elvis' strange, gangly, country-boy charisma, his hard-to-define cuteness, and his charming eccentricity intriguing' and simply worked the singer into the customary 'comedy fabric' of his program.
Elvis would refer back to the Allen show as the most ridiculous performance of his career. Pressed on whether he had learned anything from the criticism to which he was being subjected, Elvis responded, 'No, I haven't, I don't feel like I'm doing anything wrong, I don't see how any type of music would have any bad influence on people when it's only music, I mean, how would rock 'n' roll music make anyone rebel against their parents? A few days later, the singer made an outdoor concert appearance in Memphis at which he announced, 'You know, those people in New York are not gonna change me none.
I'm gonna show you what the real Elvis is like tonight'. In August, a judge in Jacksonville, Florida, ordered Elvis to tame his act. Throughout the following performance, he largely kept still, except for wiggling his little finger suggestively in mockery of the order. The single pairing Don't Be Cruel with Hound Dog ruled the top of the charts for 11 weeks - a mark that would not be surpassed for 36 years. Recording sessions for Elvis' second album took place in Hollywood during the first week of September. The first, on September 9, , was seen by approximately 60 million viewers - a record Actor Charles Laughton hosted the show, filling in while Sullivan recuperated from a car accident.
According to Elvis legend, Elvis was shot only from the waist up. Watching clips of the Allen and Berle shows with his producer, Sullivan had opined that Elvis 'got some kind of device hanging down below the crotch of his pants - so when he moves his legs back and forth you can see the outline of his cock, I think it's a Coke bottle, We just can't have this on a Sunday night.
This is a family show! In fact, Elvis was shown head-to-toe in the first and second shows. Though the camera work was relatively discreet during his debut, with leg-concealing close ups when he danced, the studio audience reacted in customary style: screaming. Elvis' performance of his forthcoming single, the ballad Love Me Tender , prompted a record-shattering million advance orders.
More than any other single event, it was this first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show that made Elvis a national celebrity of barely precedented proportions. Accompanying Elvis' rise to fame, a cultural shift was taking place that he both helped inspire and came to symbolize. Igniting the 'biggest pop craze since Glenn Miller and Frank Sinatra, Elvis brought rock'n'roll into the mainstream of popular culture', writes historian Marty Jezer. Elvis Presley on National TV. Graceland , Elvis Presley's home and refuge for twenty years, is one of the most visited homes in America today, now attracting over , visitors annually.
It is also the most famous home in America after the White House. On March 24, , Elvis was inducted into the U. Captain Arlie Metheny, the information officer, was unprepared for the media attention drawn by the singer's arrival. Hundreds of people descended on Elvis as he stepped from the bus; photographers then accompanied him into the base. Elvis announced that he was looking forward to his military stint, saying he did not want to be treated any differently from anyone else: 'The Army can do anything it wants with me'.
Later, at Fort Hood, Texas, Lieutenant Colonel Marjorie Schulten gave the media carte blanche for one day, after which she declared Elvis off-limits to the press.