Sunday, October 28, 2012

October 28 & 29, 1957: Elvis Presley has L.A. All Shook Up!

OCTOBER 28 & 29, 1957: ELVIS PRESLEY HAS L.A. ALL SHOOK UP! -- It was one of those defining moments in rock 'n roll history -- that is, depending on which night you were there! Elvis was at a golden high in 1957: the classic film Jailhouse Rock was about to open nationally on November 18; and the Elvis hits All Shook Up and (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear were burning up the radio airwaves. So when Elvis hit Los Angeles for two performances at the now-long-gone Pan Pacific Auditorium on Beverly Boulevard, there was Elvis-mania all over town for 1950's biggest music star. But after the first night's show, all hell broke loose in L.A. the next day!! Newspaper reporter Dick Williams of the Mirror-News thought the entire thing was obscene! "The madness reached its peak at the finish," he reported, "with Hound Dog. Elvis writhed in complete abandon, hair hanging over his face. He got down on the floor with a huge replica of the RCA singing dog (Nipper) and made love to it as if it were a girl." WOW -- now that musta been some show! Obscene? Hardly! Sexy? Yes!! You gotta remember that up until Elvis hit the music scene, the world had yet to see a white male performer quite like him -- gyrating all over and shaking every part of his body -- love it! Okay, so Elvis was indeed rolling across the stage that night -- and he did hug the little doggy statue (shown in upper middle right photo) very, very tight indeed -- but hey, kids, this was rock 'n roll, but no one really knew it at the time.  Of course Little Richard (whom Elvis once attributed as being the real "king") was already gyrating and cavorting onstage in blatantly sexual overtones -- but you gotta remember that nice white kids weren't really going in droves to Little Richard's shows, thus Elvis was as wild as it got in those days! Well, to Elvis' defense, singer Gordon Stoker of the famed Jordanaires (who backed Elvis on his live shows and recordings) commented that Elvis "did not do anything onstage with Nipper that was suggestive or off-color" and then added, "We were standing very close to him as we always were. Williams was simply out to get Elvis."  But unfortunately that wasn't enough for the Los Angeles Police Department! Before the second show the next night, the city's Vice Squad contacted Elvis' manager Colonel Tom Parker with a warning for Elvis to basically clean up his act or go to jail! Now that would have been a real jailhouse rock show, for sure! Elvis was justifiably angered by this attack on this onstage actions -- but that didn't stop the police from showing up on the second night -- with movie cameras to capture any lewd gestures!!! Throughout that performance, Elvis repeatedly informed the audience that he was being filmed by the cops -- and at one point during the show, he put his hands together as if they were cuffed and said to the crowd, "You should have been here last night!" Good for you Elvis! Nothing, not even the threat of going to jail, could stop Elvis that second night -- he gave the fans what they wanted and they screamed back in sheer delight. By the end of 1957, Elvis had performed for at least a quarter of a million people across the country -- but it was the now-legendary shows at the Pan Pacific Auditorium that caused the folks of L.A. to go into a tizzy fit that sparked paranoia from city officials and adoring pandemonium from Elvis' legion of followers. Talk about getting all shook up!