Presley creates musical storm
1956 Elvis Presley, a dynamic rock 'n roll singer who appeared in Lubbock less than 18 months ago for $75, picked up $4,000-plus in a return appearance Tuesday - turning Fair Park Coliseum into a bedlam before two screaming audiences totaling 10,000 persons.
The blues singer, who shortly before that first Lubbock appearance was a $35-a-week truck driver, was literally the center of a human storm - most of it generated by teenagers.
Presley is a 21-year-old singer from Memphis, Tenn., with long sideburns, a ducktail and a delivery that, at its peak, makes Johnny Ray look like slow motion.
And Tuesday night he turned Fair Park Coliseum into an amphitheater where the thousands of screaming, screeching, clamoring-for-more fans put on an act themselves seldom seen in Lubbock.
Jim Crook, assistant manager of Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday night that the Coliseum would seat 5,500. But during Presley's performance, there was almost as many standing as sitting. Crowds filled the back of the auditorium and the aisles, and ringed the platform where Presley performed. A full house watched the second show.
Twice during Presley's show, mobs of teenagers pushed through the locked doors behind the platform, before police could stop the flow and re-lock the doors.
He's been described as Johnny Ray, with the St. Vitus dance, but the voices are in no way similar.
In fact, you heard very little of his voice Tuesday night. As soon as he would sing a few bars of a number, he was greeted by wails, screams and swooning acts that brought back memories of Frank Sinatra's heyday.
"Heartbreak Hotel," "I Got A Woman," and "Blue Suede Shoes" literally brought down the house as did every gymnastic movement of his body.
He wasn't mobbed, thanks to 20 or so policemen on hand, unless you consider being surrounded by teenagers wanting him to sign a picture, a slip of paper, their forehead, their arm - as being mobbed.
But as Presley put it, "I'm not mobbed until they start getting my clothes. They've done that in several places - last night in Wichita Falls, in fact."
In his dressing room between shows, Presley still couldn't get away from his following. The fans leaked through police at the doorway to get pictures, autographs, or just to look.
"One show out there sure takes it all out of you. A doctor told me I'd be better off doing manual labor for eight hours a day," he said.