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Home > Newspaper Articles > 1956 > August 6 1956. Lakeland, FL.
CONCERT DATE: August 6 1956. Lakeland, FL.
Real Gone Presley Is Really Gone But The Aroma Of His Day Lingers
by Elvalee Donaldson
August 7, 1956
Well, it's all over, even the shouting. Elvis Presley is read gone-gone from Lakeland at least.
He arrived yesterday afternoon 15 minutes before the start of his first performance at the Polk Theater and left as quickly as he could after his third show last, for a hotel in Tampa. Tonight he will be in St. Petersburg.
Shrieking fans, men and women, but mostly women-young and old, but mostly young-were lined up in front of the theater from 8 a.m. until after the start of the last show at 9 p.m. At least 6,000 person watched his performances here.
Elvis was on each 3 hour program only 15 minutes-the last 15 minutes-after a stomping, clapping combo, the Jordanaires and a slinky woman singer, had built the audience to a frenzied pitch.
He Can't Do Wrong
He lumbered from behind the curtain wiping his mouth on the back of his and hitching up his trousers. Everybody screamed. He leaned back, grinned at the musicians and swayed. Everybody screamed again.
By the time he was standing spraddle-legged, leaning on the microphone and wailing, "Well, now, since my babe left me." Occasionally he would strum his guitar. The shrieking women never stopped, and the singing was not even audible on the front row at the first performance. A different public address system was demanded by his manager, Col. Tom Parker, for the other shows.
The singing did not seem to be what the teen-agers particularly were interested in, for every time the sultry side burned singer would bump his hip, the frenzy would mount. Often he would just shimmy without singing, without playing the guitar.
An Odd Performance
Several times he clutched the curtain as he shook and once got down on his hands and knees, his long hair tossed in his face, and his bumps toward the audience from that position.
The strangest thing about Elvis is that he's apparently just a nice kid, caught in a tempest that is paying money. In the backstage interview after his first show, he acted like a 21 year-old boy being asked questions by reporters. Just a little afraid and certain that they were trying to press him into saying the wrong things.
When he first arrived in his tan Lincoln Continental at the stage door, he bustled right out of the car and inside. I was waiting to snap just one picture of the arrival. He quickly flicked me aside and said, "Honey, you'll have to come inside if you want to talk to me."
Then He Apologizes
He seemed to be immediately sorry for his abrupt treatment and consented to pose on the steps. Several times during my interview with him, he apologized for the way he had acted.
"My managers tell me to just hurry inside as fast as I can," he said. "For all I knew you were just some little girl wanting a picture". I assured him I was just a girl wanting a picture so he posed again to make up for the slight.
Elvis admitted, usually with a good-natured grin that occasionally turned into an out-and-out laugh, that most things written about him are untrue. "Just wild press stories and gimmiks," he said.
June Juanico, 18-year-old girl who is accompanying him on this tour, brought him a paper cup of water. While she was getting water, I asked, "Is June really just one of your 25 regulars?"
Elvis looked disgusted and said the press made it up. "She means more to me than any other girl ever has," he said, "but I haven't known her very long."
Elvis looked tired after his first show. He wiped the sweat from his face with his hands and then rubbed his hands on his black denim pants. "I only get to sleep three, four hours a night. Pretty tired, you know."
Sipping on his ice water and fumbling with the knot in the front of his black and white stripped shirt, Elvis gradually lost his reserve and began joking with the reporters.
No On Vitamins
When asked if he took vitamins to keep up his strength, he quickly answered, "No do you?"
"Well," came the reply, "I don't exactly cavort around like you do."
"I bet you could if you tried," was the retort of Elvis the Pelvis.
He denied that he ate only pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy as some of the magazines say, "I eat the same food everybody else does. I'll probably have soup for supper."
The Cat isn't one of the nicknames he accepts graciously. "I ain't no damn cat," he said. "A cat's an animal." He also said the name "Elvis the Pelvis" disgusts him.
He Looks Sheepish
Elvis looked rather sheepish when he talked about his gyrations on the stage, which have been called, "lewd, obscene and vulgar." Actually, the description is perfect.
"Surely, Elvis," I asked, "you don't honestly believe that all those motions simply are part of your feeling the songs?"
"Well, part of it is put on, you might say," he said, grinning and then throwing back his head and laughing.
"And I don't collect teddy bears and I never bit a girl reporter. Those are press gimmicks, I guess. They must have made it all up, because I don't know where they ever heard such things."
What's The Harm
He doesn't believe the reports have hurt him, however. "I only do what I think is right. Now what's the harm in that?"
Front page news in the papers only gets a quick glance from Presley who claims "I'm on a full schedule, ya know?" He had not even read of the 14 year old girl who ran away from home because she was in love with him.
He was more than unhappy with a Miami reporter who hurled questions about current events his way and then blasted him in the newspaper because he didn't know the answers.
"Yeah, this guy comes in and starts asking me about the United Nations and the world situation in Pusan and ships. I didn't know they had a shipwreck. If I knew all that stuff I'd be in politics in Washington."
Elvis laughs during his performances because as he explained it, "I get tickled at those kids in the front row. And then, too I get tickled at my own mistakes. I'm all the time forgetting words."
He loves his fans and all the screaming doesn't make him nervous. His favorite record of his own is "Don't Be Cruel." While he was in Miami, he threw a pair of his trousers out the hotel window to some fans. "No, I don't know if they tore them apart or not. When I left, they were still fighting over them."
Told Him To Behave
On Sept, 9 he is scheduled for his first appearance with Ed Sullivan. Before he appeared on the Steve Allen show, he was told to tone down his motions. "They told me to behave like a gentlemen. I didn't know what they was talking about," he said.
It's hard to make a clear-cut statement about the 21 year-old singer. Onstage, his is obscene, ridiculous and sullen, yet he gets $50,000 a week because of his onstage appearances. Off-stage he appears polite and good natured, only too eager to tell the truth about the way he acts and feels.
Courtesy of Kurt Hinkle