Home > Newspaper Articles > 1956 > November 25, 1956. Louisville, KY.

Teen-agers Squeal, Flah Bulbs Pop As Elvis Sings and Emotes for Two Shows Here
by Don Freeman

November 26, 1956 The Courier-Journal

Teen-agers deliriously squealed, the flash bulbs of shuterbugs shot off all over - the whole Armory suddenly felt like the inside of a heavily punded drum. Elvis Presley had sprung forth in all his glory, plus a green, dinner-type coat and black slacks. Elvis - the ideal of every red-blooded American girl.

He wheedled squeals out of his fans with 25 minutes of high emotion singing, then disappeared under heavy escort.. Unable to corner him, fans did th enext best things.

A bevy of girls shriekingly touched the microphone he had used. And some other girls kissed the palms of their hands after rubbing them over the stage dirt he had trod, police said.

Show is A Sellout

All this was at the matinee show yesterday. It drew a sellout crowd of 8,500 Armory official said. Last night, by Armory count Mr. Sideburns played to a crowd of 8,349. The night crowd, being more adult was slightly more sedate. But Elvis was even livelier this time, wearing a satiny golden coat and shaking hand with two girls seated behind the stage.

Police Chief Carl E. Heauties, who attended both shows as an observer and something of a cynic, said he generally was "well pleased" by the audience conduct.

Girl Wants A Button

One exception, he said, was a 20-year-old girl who offered police $100 to get a button off Presley's coat. Three men were arrested before the afternoon show for drinking in a washroom, and two Illinois girls were arrested at night on vagrancy charges.

Heustis said Louisville's relative success in controlling the enthusiasm of Presley fans was due lagerly to police and fire precautions. About 100 police and 60 ushers were on hand, spreading cordons around the hall's interior and exterior.

Heustis said this was a record number of ushers, but not of police - there were more policemen at a Duke Ellington performance years ago, for instance.

Presley drew a laugh from the crowd when he remarked good naturedly, "I never knew I had so many fans in the Louisville Police Department."

Wait Impatiently

The matinee crowd waited impatiently for Elvis through 75 minutes of tapdances, impersonations, and the like.

Then, as he made his advent, the bottled-up emotions burst the cork out. He said "Thank you," and there were shrieks from the crowd. He panted briefly into the microphone. More shierks. He got into the first notes of that relatively early hit, "Heartbreak Hotel." Still more shrieks.

Shoulders Hunch Up

Through his whole hearted singing and half-hearted guitar strumming (he had rhytm-band accompaniment), he'd hunch up his shoulders like a football tackle ready to leap. Or he'd stopm back and forth with the mike, his 6-foot frame firmly flexed, suggesting a Frankestein's monster. Every change of motion brought shrieks

By moving back and forth rather than sideways. Presley adhered to the strict rule that police officers had laid down with his agents. Sideward motions, the police felt, would have been lewdly suggestive.

The throng's "eeeeeeeehs" and "ohhhs" were so insistent that Presley's words usually were unintelligible even by his standards.But the voice came through, even if the words didn't. Here was a clean voice, broad in range, sure in rhythm, and tender.

And the Presley spirit came through, too. Here was the Presley of fast modernism and shiny Cadillacs mixed with the Presley of boyish simplicity, the hobby of collecting teddy bears, and the cotton-country origins.

Sings Recorded Hits

Here was a figure who seems both innocent and knowing, a 21-year-old who is both worldly and of the inner heart. That mixture of personality is part of his magic.

He went through many of his recorded hits - knifing the air with his hands in "Don't Be Cruel," sinking his voice and even chocking in "Love Me Tender," pointing an accusing finger in his final number, "Houn' Dog."

In honor of his Louisville grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Pressley (Elvis spells the family name with only one "S") who were in the audience, he sang the type of hymn he had sung with his church-going family in childhood - "Peace In The Valley."

Many adults, who had come out of curiosity and to check the overexcitement of their children, listened with respect.

A big help in preserving order was the mystic swiftness of Presley's entrance and exit. A taxi whisked him to the Armory from a back door of the hotel where he had slept and breakfasted in near secrecy until due at the afternoon.

Before show time, a few girls managed to find out what floor of what hotel he was on. But two special bodyguards, Ellis Joseph and Nick Pinto, kept them out of reach of Presley.

After Elvis returned to the hotel, 100 girls followed him there, even looking for him in the basement. Again, no luck.

Armory officials tried to avoid selling tickets to youngsters not, chaperoned by parents. Except for the press and police, no one was allowed to stand in front of the stage. All rows of seats were corded together to keep them - and the sitters - from getting tossed around.

Along with the other public and private gendarmes yesterday, there were volunteers who have been studying at Southern Police Institute - policemen from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas.

Interviewed before his dash onstage, Presley said of the criticism that has been leveled at him: "You got to accepr this criticism along with everything else, no matter who you are."

There were some, he noted, who didn't like President Eisenhower or Adlai E. Stevenson. ASked if he thought his artistic style contributed to juvenile delinquency, he answered, "I've never shot anybody or robbed anybody."

Does he plan to switch more form rock 'n' roll to the ballad type singing represented by "Love Me Tender"?

"Well, I don't know sir," he replied, pondering. "I'm just taking things as they come. I don't want to switch anything as long as people like it. It's like if you've got a good complexion, you don't put any make-up on it." With a chuckle, he added, "That makes sense."

Presley had expected his parents to be here from Memphis, "but the folks got snowed in."

"This, he noted, was not his first Louisville appearance. A year ago, he said, he did a show for employees of a cigarette firm here, "But there wasn't too much mobbing then."

Presley's big reputation had developed in the ensuing year. And as he good-humoredly told yesterday's turnout. "You bring a lump - to my billfold."

Courtesy of Louisville Public Library