Historic Elvis Find Announced
a regular basis EIN looks at a new release or issue in the Elvis
world. In this edition we shine our spotlight on what could turn
out to be one of the greatest discoveries in the Elvis world:
Find - Elvis’s ‘First’ Louisiana Hayride Concert Possibly on Two
EIN was recently contacted by Tara Wesson in the USA.
mother, Bonnie, has in her collection two 78 records dating
from 1954 - 1955 on which it is claimed
is Elvis’s first live appearance on the famous Louisiana Hayride.
appeared on the Louisiana Hayride on 52 occasions between 16 October,
1954 and 15 December, 1956. A number of Elvis’s recordings on the
Hayride have been released on vinyl and CD. In fact, Elvis’s Hayride
performances are probably the most reissued recordings of The King.
EIN has catalogued more than 50 different CD releases featuring
tracks from his appearances.
definitive release (to date) is: Good Rockin’ Tonight (The Evolution
of Elvis Presley) Louisiana Hayride MME72627-2 USA 2000 Double CD
has exclusively told EIN the story behind this amazing piece of
Elvis Presley records were given to me on December 31, 1958. I was
a big Elvis fan since his first record came out, "That's All Right
Mama." I started collecting articles and pictures to make a collection
of over 2000 pictures. I saw Elvis at the Robinson Auditorium in
1956. He was in L.R. in 1955 but I wasn't old enough to go by myself.
My brother dropped me off on our only transportation, a old Harley
Davidson. What a performance!
I was 17 years old, I met a man at Snappy's Drive Inn at 7th & Broadway.
Harold Wesson was driving a 1954 Cadillac Coupe Deville with a 20"
extension and a Continental Kit on the back. Powder blue with a
cream colored top. He was cruising the five or more drive inns in
the area like all the others who drove a car, looking for dates.
He was 28. He and the other men all dressed in the old Memphis style
clothes. We went out a couple of times and he quickly found out
what a big Elvis fan. I was [too] and told me he had recorded Elvis
at his first (as I recall) performance at the Louisiana Hayride
in late 1954 or early 1955. He went to Memphis and had the tape
put on two 78 records.
told me Elvis was only supposed to sing one song that night. After
the crowd went wild, Elvis sang more and stole the show. He was
called back to play all the song on the records. At the time Harold
was a truck driver making runs out of Shreveport to Arkansas hauling
sugar. Harold says the outfit Elvis wore, an orange jumpsuit with
fringe, is what he remembers. He said he and some friends drove
there to hear Elvis. They recorded only Elvis's performance. Harold
at the last minute ran and got a recorder from his auto.
record has Elvis being introduced, Elvis tells a little about the
song he will song...." it goes something like this." The announcer
then says they will bring Elvis back for another song. Five songs
are recorded including "Hearts of Stone , Tweedle Deedee, Money
the next date, he brought the records and a real autographed picture
of Elvis. What a thrill!! I played the records a few times for my
friends, then not at all. Harold has always said they were of great
value. I haven't played the records since they were played a lot
before I got them. They have been put away for the past 43 years.
and I married in 1960 and divorced in 1969 and have three girls.
He had a stroke Dec. 29, 2001. As he went over the facts with Tara
recently, he said he had seen Elvis on several occasions and he
also said the records were mine to do with whatever I wanted to
do. Harold remembers seeing Elvis in the Memphis night clubs and
at the stock car race track in Memphis. Harold told us Elvis was
aware he had the records and always asked him, "Do you still have
told us Elvis had also offered to buy them from him. Harold was
a race car builder and sprint car team owner for many years. And
raced all over the south. He has stories of meeting Elvis at the
track and at night clubs. I think the records are a collector's
item plus the sound track should be used to make a video of Elvis
(digital) returning to the Louisiana Hayride.
have written a script that I think would be fabulous. It is progressive
and old/new school. I would like to send it to you.
16 years ago, I contacted RCA and sent the tape of the records.
In time they sent them back. I assume they made a copy. I sent the
tape to Elvis Presley Enterprises in 1992. They have the only tape
made. Thank you, Bonnie Wesson"
situation: After EIN was contacted by Bonnie and Tara Wesson
we provided their information to Ernst Jorgensen in BMG. BMG has
now officially contacted the Wesson’s and is waiting on feedback
from Joey Kent of the Louisiana Hayride. The recordings are for
sale and Bonnie Wesson has also developed an idea for a high tech
video to support and promote the recordings.
Quality: While the 78’s haven’t been played for 43 years, Bonnie
and Tara have told EIN that the audio quality is similar to an eight-track.
While the recordings obviously won’t be of contemporary audio CD
quality it appears they will be on a par with the better quality
Louisiana Hayride Elvis recordings already released by the Hayride.
There are several intriquing questions yet to be fully answered
in this story:
they represent Elvis’ first full Louisiana Hayride performance?
didn’t BMG acquire the recordings when contacted by Bonnie Wesson
in the mid 1980’s?
the recordings represent previously unreleased versions of the
are the five songs recorded?
the records haven’t been played for 43 years, Bonnie is only able
to identify three of them from memory: Hearts of Stone, Tweedle
Dee and Money Honey.
they are actually from Elvis’s first Hayride performance on 16 October,
1954, then the remaining tracks must be That’s All Right, Mama and
Blue Moon of Kentucky, as these two songs from that date are already
available on ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight – The Evolution of Elvis Presley’.
the songs were recorded at a subsequent Hayride concert then it
is problematic as to whether or not they will represent ‘unreleased
recordings’ as Hayride recordings of the three songs identified
by Bonnie Wesson are available on the ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’ album.
there is only one group of five songs recorded on the same date
on the Hayride album. They were recorded on 22 January 1955 and
were: Tweedle Dee Money, Honey Blue Moon of Kentucky I Don’t Care
If The Sun Don’t Shine That’s All Right, Mama.
the five tracks turn out to be unreleased versions, and on the basis
of Bonnie’s feeling that they represent Elvis’s first appearance
on the Hayride, they could well be, then they represent the earliest
ever live recording of Elvis in concert. On this basis they would
be a very historic part of the Elvis story and very valuable. Bonnie,
Tara and BMG have said they’ll keep EIN posted, and in turn we’ll
keep you up to date as this story further unfolds.
edition of Spotlight On the King was prepared by Nigel
Patterson, President, Elvis Information Network, April-May