FLASHBACK : DALLAS
Elvis at the Big D Jamboree — 1955
by Paula Bosse - Jan. 08, 2015
Today is Elvis Presley’s birthday — a perfect time to present a nostalgic look back at the early days of his fame, before he broke nationally and when it was still pretty easy to get a ticket to see him. Here are a few tidbits from his appearance on Sept. 3, 1955 at the legendary Big D Jamboree (held at the equally legendary Sportatorium).
Big D Jamboree program, Sept. 3, 1955
That night’s schedule — E’s all over it
Typos like this wouldn’t be a problem soon
Photo of Elvis and the two clippings from the Big D Jamboree program to that night’s show, Sept. 3, 1955.
Cool ad from The Dallas Morning News, Sept. 3, 1955.
Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.
Elvis backstage in Dallas Texas, September 3, 1955
September 3, 1955 "Big D Jamboree", Sportatorium, Dallas, Texas*
Pop Culture Blog
Heritage is auctioning off a Big ‘D’ Jamboree program from September 1955 signed by Elvis Presley, his legendary band
Robert Wilonsky - July 23, 2012 3:49 pm
The September 3, 1955, Big "D" Jamboree program that'll sell for thousands in Memphis next month.
By year’s end, fingers crossed, Bear Family Records out of Germany will release the definitive Big “D” Jamboree collection featuring God knows how many recordings left off David Dennard’s previous compilations, including 2000′s The Big “D” Jamboree Live Volumes 1 & 2 and the sequels dedicated to the guys and gals who played the late, great Sportatorium. It won’t be just music either, but heretofore unseen photos also spread throughout Kevin Coffey’s history-of.
“We have spent untold years researching and assembling the pieces,” Dennard said the other day via email when asked about the project’s status. “We all wanted to make sure that this would be THE definitive tome on the subject.”
Alas, one thing will be missing from this collection, as it’s been absent from all others: the music of Elvis Presley, who made his Sportatorium bow on April 16, 1955, six days after the release of his fourth Sun single — and first to chart — “Baby Let’s Play House”/”I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone.” That night he shared a bill with the likes of Sonny James, Charlene Arthur and Hank Locklin. According to Elvis Day by Day Presley played the Big “D” Jamboree four more times that year: May 28, June 18, July 23 and September 3.
Dennard used acetate transcriptions discovered at the Library of Congress and the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville to assemble his compilations; he never did find any Elvis, which isn’t to say those recordings don’t exist … somewhere. And while some June 18 photos exist, there aren’t many other keepsakes around documenting Presley’s handful of Dallas dates in ’55. As the late Orville Couch told me at the end of ’99, Elvis was just a scrawny hopeful back then, driving a car that “looked like it had been turned over.” Said Couch, “We sat backstage one night and visited, and he talked about all the things he wanted to do. I don’t think he ever dreamed he would become what he became.”
Neither did anyone else. Said Richardson’s Rockabilly Hall of Famer Sid King upon the release of Dennard’s invaluable two-fer, “We sort of took it for granted. If you’re right there when it’s happening, you don’t think much about it. It starts happening, and you just roll with the flow. I mean, when I think of all the photos I could have had with Elvis …”
But at least there’s this: an extraordinarily rare Big “D” Jamboree program for Elvis’s September 3 appearance, signed not only by Presley but guitarist Scotty Moore, bassist Bill Black and drummer D.J. Fontana. Heritage is selling the historic keepsake August 14 during its Elvis Memorabilia Signature Auction at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Heritage’s appraisers believe the item will go for upwards of $5,000; with three weeks to go it’s already at $2,500.
About the Jamboree:
GOOD ROCKIN' LAST NIGHT
BY ROBERT WILONSKYTHURSDAY, JANUARY 6, 2000 | 16 YEARS AGO
(..) The Sportatorium played host every Saturday night to big-name talent and local heroes on their way up and down. From 1946 until the mid-1960s, the Sportatorium housed the Big "D" Jamboree, a three-and-a-half-hour weekly revue that introduced this town to the likes of Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Wanda Jackson, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Hank Snow, Rose Maddox, Ronnie Dawson, Lefty Frizzell, and so many others who left their footprints in the footnotes of local music history. And, yeah, there was that skinny kid from Tupelo, Mississippi, by the name of Elvis Presley.
Ed Watt knew them all. He booked the talent at the Jamboree from 1953 until it exhaled its final breath some 13 years later. Smokey Montgomery knew them all too; as bandleader for the Jamboree from 1949 until 1960, he backed the acts big and small. Watt and Dawson, of course, will tell you Montgomery didn't learn anything from them big-name fellers -- he was better than all of them put together.
If yesterdays look larger the further we travel from them, then the Big "D" Jamboree exists now as a mythological moment. It was where country turned into rock and roll, where hillbilly begot rockabilly, where small men blossomed into enormous stars. One performer from the Jamboree, Orville Couch, recalls the first time Elvis played the Sportatorium, in the spring of 1955. He was a scrawny kid who drove a log truck for a living. His car might have been a Ford, though Couch says, "it looked like it had been turned over."
"We sat backstage one night and visited, and he talked about all the things he wanted to do," recalls the 64-year-old Couch, who now lives in Combine and still records gospel music in his high-tech home studio. "I don't think he ever dreamed he would become what he became." (..)
Perhaps it's not too surprising that the Big "D" Jamboree would be relegated to passing mentions in history books. After all, it didn't really create any stars; it merely borrowed them. It had neither the clout of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville nor the cachet of the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport. Indeed, the latter remains far more famous because it has long been considered the barn dance built by Elvis, Cash, and Hank Williams. In his 1998 book Louisiana Hayride Years, former Big "D" Jamboree announcer Horace Logan even dismisses the Jamboree, claiming it "never measured up to the Louisiana Hayride in quality" and that "it copied the idea of the Hayride." Logan insisted the Jamboree existed for only one reason: "to make money" for its bossman Ed McLemore, who ran the Sportatorium and the Jamboree and controlled pro wrestling in this town for years.
Ed Watt, of course, would dispute Logan's assessment of the Jamboree. He waves away Logan's words, claiming he was just a bitter guy who was jealous "because he wasn't in charge," as he had been at the Hayride. Besides, what does it matter? History has a way of setting right such petty disputes. (..)
Read (much) more on: http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/good-rockin-last-night-6396420
*Thanks to Mississippi