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Rock and Roll: 1956

Elvis Presley at a 1956 concert date; we're counting the minutes until someone can tell us which one. Photo by Phillip Harrington for Look. View full size.

Elvis Presley at a 1956 concert date; we're counting the minutes until someone can tell us which one. Photo by Phillip Harrington for Look. View full size.


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Hello Columbus

This is Elvis performing on May 26, 1956 at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Columbus, Ohio.

Who those people were

@Mark Rummel
The Blue Moon boys were Scotty and Bill, and then later on DJ, Elvis' band. They got the name from their second recording, Blue Moon of Kentucky. The others were opening variety style opening acts that were put together by Al Dvorin when the Colonel decided that Elvis would no longer share the bill with anyone considered a competitor or contemporary.
I have more on them on pages about the venues at the beginning of that tour here , and

Who's that again?

The Ohio State Journal story previewing the concert mentioned here says in part, "In addition to singer Elvis Presley, the show will feature Jackie Little; the Blue Moon Boys; the Flaims; Frankie Connors and Phil Maraquin."

I'm an old rock-and-roller, but who were those people?

Columbus Discovers Elvis

Here's some contemporary coverage including the multi-hued splendor of his apparel:

Columbus, Ohio May 1956

More photos of this concert can be found here:

Also, note that by the time of this concert Scotty Moore was no longer playing the Gibson ES-295. He had traded it in the previous year towards the Gibson L-5 he's playing in these photos.

Columbus, OH

Veterans Memorial Auditorium, May 26, 1956
More here

A hand tooled leather cover

might have looked cool, but it must have destroyed the resonance of a really great guitar( the 1955 Martin D28).

Bare Bones Rock and Roll

That's D.J. Fontana keeping the beat behind the King. Scotty Moore would be stage right of Elvis playing his gold top Gibson ES-295 electric archtop hollowbody guitar, which was plugged into the amp perched on the chair. Bill Black would also have been on stage playing his upright acoustic bass. Elvis is wearing his unamplified 1955 Martin D-28 guitar with custom leather cover tooled by Marcus Van Story, who worked at the O.K. Houck Piano Company in Memphis (where Elvis purchased the guitar). Man, that Cat could rock!

A little extra amplification

This had to be an amazingly simple, pure concert, and those small amps would have trouble filling any medium-sized auditorium back then.

But some smart person in this pre-sound engineer era put a public address microphone in front of that amp, so at least you could hear the music along with the words more easily. That is, if you could hear anything with all the screaming young girls.

Isn't the King playing a non-electrified guitar? I don't see a cord or a sound pickup anywhere. That's why he's the king.

Hello Columbus

It looks like other Harrington photos I've seen of Elvis performing at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Columbus, Ohio in 1956. Same clothes, stage setup and curtain.

We Want Scotty

Couldn't tell you the location, but it's great to see drummer D.J. Fontana in his natural habitat. Poor Elvis had no stage monitors, so he had to yelp out the vocals just so he could hear himself over all the little screaming girls. Sadly, we don't see even the shadow of lead guitarist Scotty Moore and his Gibson ES-295, nor Bill Black on upright bass. It's interesting to see Scotty's amp has a mic on it, so his sound was reinforced through the house PA system, such as it was. The Beatles would encounter similarly primitive sound reinforcement facilities 8 years later. Here's wishing for a full band pic.

Talk about bare bones presentation

Single guitar amp plopped on top of a folding chair.
Drum kit that could fit into his suitcase.
No lasers
No strobes
No stack of Fender amps.

Pure, so very pure.

I'm not much of an Elvis fan but this guy had more stage presence than 3,000 American Idol finalists put together.

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