Originally created 08/16/97

Bell Auditorium rocks as Elvis Presley rolls



This article originally ran Thursday, June 28, 1956

Elvis Presley (so hep me, one "a" please), bounced onto the stage of Bell Auditorium last night like a hungry panther, and brought shrieks from some 6,000 teen-age throats.

Wearing a flaming red jacket, the hottest thing in music today groaned, twitched and swung his hips to the "delight" of a noisy mob who surged toward the stage as he finished his final number, Hound Dog.

Presley sang eight numbers, all big hits with the "cats" today. The screams started echoing with the first notes of Heartbreak Hotel, his biggest-selling record.

Two audiences

Moving from one side of the stage to the other, and dragging or pulling a microphone, Presley played to two audiences at the same time. Bell Auditorium was packed as well as the Music Hall on the other side of the stage.

The revivalistic tempo accelerated as the Memphis, Tenn., boy went from Hotel to Long, Tall Sally, I was the One, Baby Let's Play House, I Want You, I Need You, I Love You, I've Got a Woman, and Blue Suede Shoes.

Dragging the mike to the side of the stage, the 21-year-old sensation edged his way off stage with his last note and ran to a waiting taxi at the stage door.

Before the crowd knew what had happened, Presley had been safely escorted away. The faces of many young things (mostly girls) showed disappointed when they missed getting a closer look at their idol.

One young lady with bright brown eyes, however, pulled a trick over everyone.

Letter in Spanish

While Presley was waiting in the wings, she stole up to him and handed him a letter. "It's in Spanish, but I don't know how to write in English," the pretty young senorita said. Presley took the letter and promised to write.

When asked what he thought of his rapid rise to fame, Presley, who denies being a "country boy," said: "I haven't had time to think about it. It's what I'm striving for."

About girls. No he hasn't anyone special.

While talking, Presley moves about almost constantly.

He is perpetual motion even when talking. He can't stand still appears high strung and nervous. If a girl comes up, he immediately throws his arms around her.

The "atomic-powered singer" says he never lived in the country in this life, but has picked cotton, driven a tractor and a truck. Motorcycling is his favorite hobby.

Right now, he is proud of a new white Eldorado Cadillac, the fourth Cadillac he now owns. Others, equally powerful, are pink, blue and yellow.

When he arrived at the stage door last night, he looked like he needed a haircut, but his get-up is the fad with the teens. He wore big, sloppy sport shoes, brown pants and a dark-colored sport shirt.

"Just go crazy"

Of his music experience, the Hollywood bound kid says he doesn't know a flat from a sharp. "In my kind of music, you just get out there and go crazy." When does he rehearse? "I haven't rehearsed since I've been in the business."

Presley attributes his rise to getting a record contract with the RCA recording studio. The firm put Hotel on wax and he has been zooming in popularity ever since. This Sunday night, he will be a guest on the Steve Allen show over the NBC-TV network.

The Tennessean carries a guitar with him everywhere he goes, but his promotion man says he plays "just a little" by ear, and "battles with a piano." The publicist says Presley "isn't happy" and is always "searching."

Presley, however, has clean habits. He doesn't smoke or drink and gets between five and six hours of sleep every night.

"I have a hard time going to sleep," he said, shifting from one foot to another and quickly turning off an exposed light bulb shining in his face. He phones his mother four or five times a week.

Recently, he bought a new home for his parents in Memphis and is busy now putting in a swimming pool.

Bright future

Presley's future looks bright. He already has a seven-year contract with Paramount studios will record his latest hit Hound Dog next week, and will appear frequently as a guest artist on TV.

Success hasn't gone to his head. "I've been too busy to think about it." And he means it.

Whether people like him or not - some do and some don't - the "rock and roll" boy averages 2,000 fan letters a day, has thousands of youngsters in a fan club (write Presley, Madison, Tenn.) and recently, during an engagement at Las Vegas, Nev., pulled down $12,500 a week for his hip-swinging and groaning.

All of this success has come to a good-natured guy who admits he can't sing "worth a hoot."