you see Elvis live in Asheville in 1955?
anyone still remember when Elvis played Asheville back
in Denmark, the King's premier producer and archivist
wants to know. Ernst Jorgensen is chasing the ultimate
rock `n' roll cold case file. He's gathering details
of Presley's life in 1955, just before he became a star.
That includes two shows Elvis did here in May and September
of '55 at the old City Auditorium (now Thomas Wolfe
Auditorium). Both were country concerts, headlined by
the late great Grand Ole Opry star Hank Snow.
Jorgensen, time is not on his side. A half-century after a
lean young Elvis barnstormed the country, seeking fame and
fortune, memories are fast fading away. Jorgensen - who produces
all of today's Elvis albums for RCA - is compiling this material
for yet another project, a book and CD set to be published
later this year.
are trying to document his rise to fame," Jorgensen said,
in a phone call from his home in rural Denmark, an hour outside
Copenhagen. The King's life after 1956 is well recorded in
history. But it's that one year, 1955, that remains something
of a mystery.
timing is perfect. This weekend, Elvis would have turned 70.
Of course, he departed this world in 1977, or so they say.
On the road Fresh out of Memphis and looking to strike it
big, Elvis was the original road warrior in late 1954 and
throughout 1955, Jorgensen said.
did about 250 shows that year, "in beer joints, football stadiums,
schools," wherever he could pull a crowd. "We've found some
shots where he was playing on a flatbed truck," Jorgsensen
said. In a few markets, Elvis was already a solo star. But
most towns, he couldn't draw a crowd alone. So in May and
September of `55, he toured with Snow and other country acts.
"He wasn't big enough to go in alone in Asheville," Jorgensen
the facts Elvis slipped into town for two gigs at old City
Auditorium. On May 17, 1955, he was part of Hank Snow's Jamboree,
which also featured the Rainbow Ranch Boys, Martha Carson
and the Country Gentlemen. Slim Whitman, Elvis with Bill and
Scotty, The Davis Sisters, Skeeter & Georgie, Jimmy Rogers
Snow and Onie Wheeler.
few months later, and building up steam, the future King returned
on Sept. 16, 1955, for a "Grand Ole Opry" concert, again starring
Snow with the Louvin Brothers, Cowboy Copas, The Rainbow Ranch
Boys, Scotty and Bill, the Alabama Sundusters, Ken Marvin
("your favorite DJ"), emcee Red Kirk and Elvis ("back by popular
for evidence Other than two small ads in the old Asheville
Citizen and Asheville Times newspapers, little is recorded
about those two dates. Jorgensen hopes that someone may have
a few memories. Or perhaps, have made a snapshot or two.
don't want people to invent anything, but they might remember
what car he arrived in, or a song he did," Jorgensen said.
These little clues - especially the photos - paint a unique
portrait of the soon-to-be star.
wardrobe changed from 1954 to 1955," the producer said. Through
pictures, Jorgensen can tell "when he bought a new coat or
a new pair of pants," he said. Closing the book Jorgensen,
who co-authored the book "Elvis Day by Day," will use these
1955 memories in a new book and CD project, to be published
later this year.
this will be the true tribute, full of these little anecdotes,"
he said. "It will be the reference point for everything early
Elvis." Meanwhile, Jorgensen is working on yet another Elvis
CD "Love," a collection of his romantic material for Valentine's
Day, and a video and CD project, "Elvis by the Presleys,"
with the King's life told by his former wife Priscilla and
his daughter Lisa Marie
who saw Elvis in `55, either here or somewhere else, can e-mail
Jorgensen's U.S. researcher Danny Kane at DannyKane@cox.net
or call (718) 247-4448 and leave a message on the voice mail.
CD prizes will be awarded for the best information and photos.
Elvis fans who need something live, local singer Peggy Ratusz
will play a birthday concert Saturday night at Cat Daddy's
pub 430 N. Main St., Hendersonville. Ratusz and her band will
do a night of early Elvis material, songs like "That's Allright
Mama" and "Hound Dog."
like the rawness of it," she said. "It's so much fun playing
those songs. Everyone is happy." Admission is free, but the
band will pass the hat for donations. "Hopefully we will make
enough for gas money," she said. Somewhere, the King is smiling.
Kiss at 232-5855 or call Tkiss@CITIZEN-TIMES.com
Source: Elvis World Japan)