Elvis Presley, Lifting Off
He appears to stay eternally. A network television film about his life is scheduled for 2005.Three years in the past,in 2002, the month of August was put aside for him. He was everywhere, as if he never died twenty-5 years earlier. The old information reappeared as freshly minted CD’s, he was seen shaking his hips on Tv “information” clips and one CBS information piece revealed that an astounding forty two % of the US population consider themselves to be Elvis Presley fans. His quick life was checked out anew, re-examined and pontificated upon. Daily was accounted for, except that someday in January 1956 when he shot to stardom. Who may have recognized what would occur on that day The biographers could not have been there however a handful of people did see what happened on that unusual and fascinating day. As a college scholar working as a weekend gofer in the CBS- Tv studio, I used to be certainly one of them. To fill in that gap in the Elvis Presley story, this is what happened on that outstanding day, January 26, 1956.
The inexperienced 1952 slope-backed Pontiac crawled off of Broadway onto West Fifty-Third Street, gasped, then rolled to a stop. 4 men slowly emerged, heads shaking, hands gesturing as the freezing wet January wind stole their phrases. Three of the men got behind the automobile, the darkish leather-based encased bass fiddle strapped to its roof glistened with frost. Immediately certainly one of them, carrying a gentle blue parka broke away, bent his hooded head into the bitter wind and pushed on down the road stopping midway at a black door indented in a crimson brick wall. He opened the door, entered a small gray vestibule and tapped on somewhat square window. I was standing next to Charlie Burgess, the paunchy safety guard, who turned on the clank-clank-clank on the glass and slid the window open.
“What can I do for you, fella’ Charlie said, the eyes in his round, gray face squinting beneath an overhang of silver hair.
“‘Ah’m on the Present tonight sir.an’ we acquired some car bother outside. ‘Ah think we need some help.”
“O.Ok. and who’re you “
“My name is Elvis Presley, sir..’an like ‘Ah stated sir, our automobile broke down on the way in which over right here. Can we will get some assist, sir “
And so he had arrived, not just for his first scheduled look in New York Metropolis, however to look for the first time on network tv earlier than your entire nation on Stage Present starring Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Prime time. Reside. Saturday night time. The eight p.m. lead-in to The Honeymooners. But his appearance on community television wouldn’t be his New York debut. That could be one thing, unscheduled and unexpected And one thing small, just like the spark in the ignition of a Saturn rocket.
Elvis Presley, a wild card, was signed for one look on Stage Present for January 28,1956. Although he was gaining some “notoriety” in three southern states and had connected with a neighborhood Louisiana television show, he did have one strive on the county music “large time” on the Grand Ole’ Oprey and was informed “by no means to come back back.” On Stage Show he would be one in every of three guests that night and he could be the least guest of all. Sarah Vaughan would headline and comedian Gene Sheldon, would be second on the invoice.
It would be Elvis’ first opportunity at the “really massive time”. In a cultural world governed by tastes developed over the a long time, the massive jap cities, New York particularly, were the epicenters of what was thought of to be widespread music. Nation music was held at a distance. Not one radio station in New York performed nation music. Elvis, the nation boy, just turned twenty one years of age, not solely knew this but needed to have apprehensions about being in the largest and most alien of all cities for his chance on the “actual” big time. If he was advised “never to return again,” by Stage Present the place else may he go, after the entire country had seen him He was understandably nervous when he arrived.
His face within the window was a clean, hairless, oval outline, framed in a tightly drawn blue hood. The smooth skin on the face glowed red from the chilly. Checking the show roster, Charlie Burgess nodded ” Yep, there you’re.” and opened the interior door. As he did, the three automotive pushers opened the outer door and squeezed in, shivering and shaking their fingers from the chilly. All 4 shuffled into the heat inside corridor that led to the small dressing room elevator which was my theater of operations. As a gofer I not only obtained the espresso however I drove the dressing room elevator.
. After warming up, Elvis’s companions, his again- up musicians and driver, had gone out to carry in the instruments. When they returned, a rumbling of pounding feet and the prattle of voices arose as a crowd of younger women in leotards turned the nook from the backstage wing. The June Taylor Dancers simply off rehearsal, their feet clicking on the grey tiled ground, swarmed past Elvis and his supervisor, the quick, pudgy, Colonel Parker,whom he had simply met, and previous the three companions bringing smiles of wonderment and a thaw to their frozen faces. Then Elvis and his back-up workforce went as much as their dressing rooms on the fifth ground, the realm they were scheduled to share with ventriloquist Jimmy Nelson, his dummy Danny O’Day and actor Jimmy Blaine who did the present’s commercials. Utilized by The Ed Sullivan Present, airing from the same studio on Sundays to home the acrobats, jugglers and animal acts often booked, it was the floor customarily used for the lesser acts.
When he returned to the backstage, the hooded parka was gone and he was there in all his hair. His pompadour crested backward like a dark wave into currents of hair that flowed across the top of his head then channeled downward on a wild run past both his ears and there was an oil slick to all of it. Folks tried not to notice but in a publish-battle, army- influenced world of crew cuts and shut -reduce hairstyles, people did notice. The DA of the grease- minded Blissful Days crowd, rigorously modeled after a duck’s after body, was the accepted type of hirsute rebellion. This was hitting the cultural beach with a shock assault. I might really feel the bristles of my crewcut standing tall. Surely,I assumed, he was defying the gods.
In a few moments Col. Parker, dark suited and fingers in his pockets, joined Elvis who was talking to Jimmy Dorsey. Tommy Dorsey, trombone in hand, the overhead lights a glint on his gold-rimmed glasses, and Executive Producer Jack Philbin, lean and fortyish in a dark pinstriped swimsuit, closed in a moment later. ” We’ve obtained an thought!.” Philbin mentioned.
It was a two minute buzz of conversation alive with staccato phrases and clauses:.. let’s get the studio reaction..the heat-up.. he’s gotta do it, the child’s obtained a wild act.. let’s see how the audience reacts, that is New York, for petessake.. possibly tone it down a bit , it’s national Tv…do a test run you imply..hmmm, but no one does the heat-up .. It’s simply not achieved. Do you thoughts, Elvis No sir, do not mind..Let’s do it. You may do it then You do not thoughts No sir, sure sir, I will do it.”
So he would do the studio warmup, something a featured performer merely didn’t do because ego always stood in the way. But it surely was something that would turn into the spotlight of the night. Like a shooting star on a summer time night time.It was noted by Charley Burgess that Elvis Presley, used the phrase “sir” lots and had a need to please. Maybe the latter trait was why he agreed to do one thing that different featured performers would by no means do. One thing that was, perhaps, the explosive charge that hair style for round face bought him off the launching pad.
Elvis wanted to go up to his dressing room and as he walked toward the elevator his head began to nod. All of a sudden, like a plane vibrating with restrained energy earlier than take-off, he stopped strolling and started bobbing his head. Then his arms reached out and pumped back and forth and he started slashing the air together with his fists leading along with his left, whipping in together with his proper. Then, instantly, as if hearing the bell, he straightened up, and went to his nook in the far facet of the elevator. I watched him with curiosity as we went up within the elevator. We had been the same age, the identical six ft in height and the identical weight but he was definitely totally different.
The nervous power was constructing up and the choke was still on. Upon returning from the dinner break, while riding the elevator once more to the sixth flooring, he vibrated into round two, crouching and punching the air with a fury, the little elevator car shaking towards the shaft. Then, when the little automotive reached his flooring he stopped as rapidly as he began, straightened his shoulders and walked off, his head still bobbing.
Elvis was the primary to reply the ten- minute show time alert that I customarily known as out. Guitar in hand, dressed in a mustard plaid sport jacket that had a second-hand store look and with plentiful and oily hair locked in place, his eyes, now, had been peering out from a deep, dark ring of eye shadow. My eyes have been transfixed as we descended.
Sixteen June Taylor Dancers, wearing black and white harlequin outfits and scheduled to open the show had been falling into place behind the closed curtain. Announcer Jack Lescoulie who always did the studio warm-up by telling stories to loosen up the audience was standing within the wing, staring out on the stage. Prop men, stagehands and electricians had been clustered around Lescoulie and staring past him at Elvis as he, guitar in hand, was walking out on the stage. He was about to do one thing scheduled performers had by no means accomplished earlier than nor would ever think of doing: the studio warm-up, a process usually assigned to a manufacturing help or the announcer, certainly not a billed performer. More, it was to be a test run.
“What’s he doing on the market ” somebody mentioned. “I can’t consider it,” one other added. “I believe he’s truly going to do the warm-up.”
Immediately there was a loud, sharp strumming of guitar and with equal suddenness Elvis Presley, standing in entrance of the shimmering gold curtain, catapulted ahead. One two three o’clock,4 o’clock rock! 5 six seven o’clock,eight o’clock rock!..
The phrases and the music swirled across the studio and his physique adopted. We’re gonna rock around the clock tonight! As he plunged into the rhythm a fever picked up backstage. June Taylor Dancers, of their thigh-high black and white outfits, flashed their legs as they twirled in an impromptu lindy hop with stagehands. Prop males and extra stagehands gyrated in tempo as the phrases gave solution to wild rhythm. On stage, Elvis, one with the beat, swung his shoulders, spread his legs apart, vibrated his hips with frenzy. Backstage, mouths dropped halfway stopping to snicker incredulously then appreciatively. I felt a wild surge of pleasure, and needed to attach with the music, to dance, but all the girls were taken. I joined the chorus.
” Yeah, yeah!””Wow!” “Holy Cow, I am unable to believe it. Go, go, go.” “My God, do you see that! Go man, go.”
And so it went, his New York debut. A studio warm-up and a test run. It was additionally lift-off time. Returning backstage he was showered with kudos. The usually taciturn backstage crowd that had worked with the greatest of the nice on The Ed Sullivan Present have been electric, “You have been great man!.” “Wonderful, wonderful.” “Terrific, just terrific.”
Further backstage extra kudos however Elvis hadn’t smiled by any of them. He had a clean look as though he was afraid to offer away his ideas or feelings. He moved to a corner of the wing, his guitar diagonally across his mustard plaid jacket. Only his eyes moved, shifting laterally to totally different angles like a visitor to a strange new land.
Then the curtain parted to the blaring rush of the Dorsey Orchestra. The June Taylors stepped off flying into their quantity. Seconds after their end, Elvis Presley stepped on stage. He was in full coloration, his mustard jacket in its biggest glory. However he was not. It wasn’t the identical. His frenetic vitality was held again by the Dorsey music. It didn’t combine.
The excitement and beat of the heat-up was lost. However the body language wasn’t and that came throughout on the black and white telecasts throughout America.
Then the telephones started ringing however no kudos from Mr. and Mrs. America that night time. Expenses of moral turpitude and obscenity filled the wires from dad and mom involved for his or her children’s advantage.
But destiny could not be denied. Destiny had intervened. He was now off the pad and heading downrange. The reaction backstage was constructive. The Producers knew what he could do with the correct music. Elvis was signed for one more week then four extra after that. I estimated that during these 5 weeks, Elvis went the total fifteen rounds. I noticed too, that his dressing room project steadily descended to the lower floors. When he returned to the studio a number of months later to do The Ed Sullivan Show and the famous “present no pelvis,Elvis” show when the cameramen have been instructed to shoot solely above the waist, he not only arrived in a completely powered limousine but he moved all the way down to share Ed Sullivan’s dressing room on the second ground.