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March 29, 1957. St. Louis, MO. Kiel Auditorium

Elvis Sings Here but Squeals of 11,000 Often Drown Him Out
March 30, 1957 St Louis Post Dispatch

Elvis Presley, shimmering in sequins an metallic gold cloth, writhed and sang last night in Kiel Auditorium convention hall before a capacity crowd of about 11,000 spectators, most of them teen-age girls. Many times the appreciative din from the audience drowned out Presley.

The performer, who had secluded himself in a Hotel Chase room all day under an assumed name, had been spirited by police into the auditorium by an obscure alley entrance to avoid admirers standing guard at the stage door.

He had been escorted to the hall in time to avoid the Market street traffic snarl caused by his scheduled appearance. Shortly before the 8 p.m. curtain time, eastbound machines were inching along from a point west of Union Station.

The "rock 'n' roll" singer did not go on stage until after the show's mid-point intermission. Entertainers accompanying him on a nine-performance tour did their turns while Presley talked to reporters and radio disc jockeys in Assembly Hall 2. What was scheduled as a press conference turned out to be dominated by autograph-seeking teen-agers who had infiltrated the police lines.

After the intermission, during which spectators had another chance to buy Elvis Presley souvenirs, the 22-year-old performed bounded onto the stage and the uproar began. He glittered and grimaced. Rhinestones embedded even in the laces of his gold-colored, raised heel shows added to the dazzling sight.

Girls screamed and hundreds of flash bulbs were discharged, making the hall look as if it were under an artillery barrage. Presley clung to the microphone standard and staggered about a distinctive, distraught manner, waiting for the noise to subside a bit.

Outnumbered and Outshrieked.

When he mouthed the opening words of his first song, the uproar began again. Girls shrieked. Elvis shrieked, but he was outnumbered. His contortions were ecstatically received. His most appreciated medium of expression seemed to be burlesque's traditional hip movements.

Musicians from a jazz concert playing to a small audience in the auditorium's adjoining opera house sneaked into the wings to watch Presley perform. "Man, how much do you suppose those yard goods cost him?" one of them speculated.

Elvis staggered and sang more songs evoking the same audience reaction, each presentation becoming a repetition of the first.

Australian promoter Lee Gordon said that the gold suit had cost $2500. "It's real gold, with impregnated unborn calf skin, or something of the sort," he said.

'Almost Unbelievable'

Gordon's publicist manager made the understatment of the year, for publicity men, when he said: "It's very dramatic." He overcompensated by adding: "it's almost unbelievable when you see an artist walk out on a stage and receive an ovation like the one we have witnessed tonight."

After Presley concluded his part in the show and had been whisked out the back door, teen-agers again mostly girls massed outside of the stage door and chanted "We want Elvis."

Other girls were relunctant to leave the hall's concourse, unwilling to believe attendants who told them Presley had left the building.

During the earlier press conference, in response to directions by photographers, he dutifully kissed girls on the cheek, and posed with them, clasping one on either side by the waist. He quickly disengaged himself, not with impolite haste, after each photograph.

He looked like a young man being dutifully attentive to his fans, who are providing him with a life as golden as his suit.

Courtesy of St Louis Public Library