The days of paying .75 cents for a concert ticket is long gone and so are the days of seeing the King of Rock and Roll in concert. But if you lived in Paris on Oct. 4, 1955, that’s the exact amount you would have paid to see the then King of Western ‘Bop’ Elvis Presley play in our hometown.
“He parked his pink Cadillac right outside our house across from the Boys and Girls Club,” said Kenneth Marshall.
Marshall, who was 8-years old at the time, helped set up chairs in the gym auditorium for the concert.
“I wasn’t exactly sure who Elvis was but we helped set up the chairs and worked all day long getting the place ready,” explained Marshall, “as a reward, we got to sit in the very front row for the show.”
Paris Optimist sponsored the concert which played at the Boy’s Club Gymnasium 64-years ago. Those that attended couldn’t at that stage of Presley’s career know what a performer he would turn out to be, or could they?
“He was much younger when he came to Paris and oh, he thought he was something else,” laughed Wanda who was at the concert, “it seemed everyone in Paris was there.”
According to the book ‘Elvis in Texas’, the club had booked Elvis months before the show, so by the concert date, the auditorium swelled until bursting with fans dying to see the Hayride Headliner.
“The bleachers long since packed with teeming teenagers, chairs filled every nook and cranny of the hall,” said writer Lori Torrance in the book published in 2002.
“People lined the wall, willing to stand through as many hours as Elvis was willing to play.”
Wanda said she remembers Elvis playing for roughly three hours before leaving.
“He was dressed in gaudy clothes,” giggled Wanda, “but we enjoyed getting to see him in person and, of course, he became a much bigger name afterward.”
Presley, who was only 20-years old at the time, was considered the ‘King of Western Bop’ and not the later title of ‘King of Rock and Roll’, though he was steadily creating that stage persona with his electric performances.
“I do remember a lot of motion,” laughed Marshall, “he moved around a lot on the stage.”
Marshall said during the show his father, who drove a bob-tail dump truck, returned home to find Elvis’ pink Cadillac in their driveaway.
“Daddy didn’t know who it was so he came into the auditorium and made someone move Elvis’ car so he could park his truck,” laughed Marshall.
After the show, Elvis signed autographs outside, which only cost one dollar, before taking several women for a ride around the block in his ‘pink Cadi’, according to ‘Elvis in Texas’.
“But when he returned, he paced back and forth until the crowd cleared. Elvis and Bill jumped in the car and sped off into the night to Moseleys, a beer joint on the other side of the Red River,” reported Torrance.
Across the Red River, they indeed went, however, some locals remember it a little different.
“Elvis came out and had three gals with him,” said Wanda, “he loaded them up in the car and went across the river.”
Wanda said back in those days, that’s where the beer was it.
The next day, Oct. 5, Elvis played at the Municipal Auditorium in Greenville where it was said that Elvis has to go through the prison to get to the stage.
“The auditorium was constructed at a time when all your municipal needs could be fulfilled in the same building and the auditorium sat on top of the city jail cells.
“To get to the stage, Elvis has to march through the prison and up a staircase leading to the hall, where the sound clearly reverberated to the basement,” said Torrance.
After the October show, one inmate showed his appreciation for the excellent entertainment by carving Elvis’s name into the jail wall, where it remains to this day.
Photo: Wikipedia Commons