Home > Newspaper Articles > 1956 > May 22, 1956. Des Moines, IA.

4,000 Yell As Presley Rocks
by Nick Lamberto
May 23, 1956 The Des Moines Register

A young man from Mississippi who is billed as America's "only atomic powered singer" spread a vast amount of rock-'n'-roll radiation over the spacious Veterans Memorial Auditorium Tuesday night.

A lor of the "fallout" from Elvis Aaron Presley's "atomic" singing hit empty seats, but the estimated 4,000 who were present - most of them teenagers - absorbed enough to keep them staring into space for the rest of the school term.

Seeing is Believing

What happened when the 21-year-old Presley walked on the stage had to be seen to be believed.

A mob of young people left their seats and swooped down to the edge of the stage. They stayed there throughout Presley's 20-minute performance, though some had to sit on the cement floor because they were blocking the view of others.

Presley, who is 6 feet tall and weighs 180 pounds, loped across the stage like a starved panther.

Merely striding across the stage set off a loud chorus of screams. He grabbed the microphone and started to sing and squirm.

Things got worse in a hurry. As Presley staggered and jerked his way through "Heart-Break Hotel," the shrieks and whistles of the crowd were so loud his voice could hardly be heard.

Flicks Sideburns

He strummed his guitar a few times and flicked his long sideburns when he bolted his way through "Long Tall Sally." He shook his shoulders and wiggled his lips. Every move brought more screams. Then Presley stepped to the microphone and said:

"I dread to sing this next number because when I'm through I've just about had it. I'm just too pooped to pop after singing it"

He swaggered his way through "Blue Suede Shoes" and the screams increase. For his last number Presley sang "Hound Dog" while he wrestled the microphone to the floor of the stage. As he knelt near the edge of the stage, many teen-agers stretched out their hands to touch him.

Also On Bill

Also on the bill were Rick Flaim and his 6-piece orchestra; Singer Jackie Little; Irish Tenor Frankie Connors, Comedian-dancer Phil Maraquin; and the Jordanaires, a quartet of pretty fair singers.

Courtesy of Des Moines Public Library