Sunday, July 09, 2006

The King holds court in Houston

This advertisement was published in the March 19, 1955, edition of the Houston Post.

"Elvis Day by Day," by Peter Guralnick and Ernst Jorgensen has this account of the concert:

Elvis "Pressley" tops a bill that includes both Hoot Gibson, the western movie star, and Tommy Sands, with Biff Collie once again master of ceremonies. Live recordings of "Good Rockin' Tonight," "Baby Let's Play House," "Blue Moon of Kentucky," "I Got a Woman," and "That's All Right" have surfaced on various bootlegs over the years.

By this time, Elvis was a few months away from becoming an American icon. But he wasn't a complete unknown when he performed here that March. In fact, it wasn't even his first concert in Houston.

On Tour Dates -- The Elvis Years, he performed his first Houston concerts on November 21, 1954, at Magnolia Gardens and Cook's Hoe-down Club. By October 8, 1955, Elvis was playing at the old City Auditorium.

"Louisiana Hayride," mentioned in the advertisement, was a popular, live radio broadcast from Shreveport, La.



At 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Elvis Story

In 1955 while a bright eyed and impressive high school coed assigned as an usher for the Elvis Presley Show, I met Elvis at the City Auditorium in Houston, Texas. I was a member of the Milby Coeds Drill Team, which had been invited to usher at the City Auditorium where Elvis was appearing. Dressed out in our marching uniform, we arrived early on our yellow school buses and were given our position in the Auditorium. I expected to be so high in the balcony that all I would see was a small glimpse of him from a distance, but even the thought of that was exciting. However, I was placed down front just to the left of the stage next to the steps where Elvis would enter. Of course, we were given the instructions—do not ask for autographs; do not take pictures. We were in uniform.

The building was completely packed and the fire marshal was moving people out who had taken the steps as seats. Five minutes before Showtime the announcement was made to clear the aisles Elvis was entering the building and everyone must be in their seats. The crowd went nuts screaming and shouting. Just as I moved several screaming teenage girls into their seats, I felt a rush of people moving behind me. I turned and came face to face with Elvis as he started to approach the steps to the stage. He stopped, looked straight at me with the most wonderful, friendly smile and extending his hand saying, “Hi, I’m Elvis. Have you been here for a while working?” “Yes!” Then he said, "I have some work to do first, but would you like to have a coke with me after I finish?" All I could get out of my mouth was a soft "Sure." I was thinking he meant there at the Auditorium.

I had never seen anyone shake, jump around, and move like he did. For a Southern Baptist girl, it was a shock. Just before Elvis left the stage he dedicated his last song to me saying, “This is especially for my friend who worked hard to get some of you in your seats and whom I’m drinking a coke with later.” Walking over to the edge of the stage and facing in the direction of where I was leaning against the wall, he began to sing. I cannot tell you what the song was. I don’t even care. To this day as a grandmother, my heart races thinking about it.

Just as Elvis was finishing his song, one of his security men traveling with him came to get me saying Elvis told him to get me before he left the stage and take me to the car where the other couple was waiting. This was the first time I knew we were not having a Coke there at the Auditorium. Not only that, I had not reached the age to have a car date, which was sixteen. I was fifteen and a half. I was leaving from a location where I had permission to be, going to a place I didn’t even know the location of, and my parents had no knowledge I was doing it. I knew I was in trouble.

Elvis came rushing out the backdoor and jumped in the car. He was hyped, wet with sweat, but a complete joy to be with. Someone had told him about Prince’s Hamburgers on Main and he wanted to go there. Just as we were pulling in, Elvis asked, “Do you need to call home? I’m sure your family didn’t know you would be late. Would you like for me to talk to them and let them know I will bring you home?” I didn’t have a clue as to what my daddy would say to him, so I did all the talking to my mother.

Elvis was so thoughtful and wanted to know if I had been embarrassed he pointed out we were having a Coke. I forced out a soft “NO.” He asked about me, my family, school, my ambitions, dreams, and if I had thought about what size family I wanted later in life. Carefully he cautioned me to get a good education because it was something he knew he would never have. Laughing and wiggling the left half of his top lip, he said he was not a good student. His love had always been music.

He talked a long time about how important it was to have a family and to love God. He told me how hard it had been over the years to get where he was tonight, but whatever came of his life it was due to his Mama’s love. He was gleeful when he talked about driving trucks and rolling down the windows and singing to the top of his lungs. I will never forget him saying, “I’m gonna reach the top and never turn back. I don’t like a hard life.” Of course, it was a dream at that time, but his dream came true.

Probably the only time in my life, at that time, I had had a convertible in my drive way was the night he took me home, and the car belonged to the other young man. We stood on the steps talking and holding hands; he made me promise that I would let him know if I ever needed anything because he would see that I got it. I never took him up on his offer. Somehow today, I wish I had.

Hanging first in my bedroom and now in my office is the autographed picture he gave me that night. I cherish it!

Yes, I was in trouble with my parents, and I was grounded for one solid month. Yes, I did see Elvis three times in person in Vegas years later.

At 2:08 AM, Blogger J.R.G. said...

WOW what a story! That's truly an unforgettable experience. Thank you for sharing your story!


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