15 October 2014

Elvis in Tupelo '56

'[In the period before his first television appearance on the poorly rated Stage Show, his manager Colonel] Parker became increasingly concerned about some of Presley's unruly stage antics. Although impressed with Elvis, RCA representative Chick Crumpacker also noticed that Elvis 'did some things that were rather outrageous, which had to be curbed later, like belching into the microphone and tossing his chewing gum out to the crowd. He was crude, but it was calculated. He wanted to appeal in that way as well as vocally.' 
- Allen Weiner, Channelling Elvis, 2014 (via Delancey Place)

Here's the chap in question, aged 21 and throwing some serious shapes on the Movietone footage from the Mississippi-Alabama State Fair on 26 September 1956 - just two and a half weeks after his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show (9 September). Predictably, this hometown gig in Tupelo is close to bedlam. Songs in the clip include:

  • Heartbreak Hotel
  • Long Tall Sally
  • I Was The One
  • I Want You, I Need You, I Love You
  • Don't Be Cruel

The Dorsey Brothers' 'Stage Show' mentioned above was actually Presley's first national TV appearance, on 17 March 1956, and by the time of his first Sullivan appearance in September he already had four gold records, but it was the Ed Sullivan appearance that ensured his American dominance. Sullivan didn't actually host the first of his shows on which Elvis appeared, because he was recuperating from a serious car accident. The guest host role went to the lugubrious actor Charles Laughton, who appeared in Ruggles at Red Gap among many other pictures, and who was doubtless well placed to appreciate the vigorous charms of the young superstar in the making.

Also: Chick Crumpacker! What a name.
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