In an ElvisBlog column two weeks ago, I mentioned a fake Elvis concert poster I own. It shows him in the famous gold lamé suit, but the concert date was seven months prior to Elvis' first appearance in the suit on March 28, 1957. Here is a shot of it.
I assumed I could find pictures of other Elvis concert posters on the web, and it would be fun to see if they there were bootlegs,too. The first one I found was a poster with a totally different picture. It advertised the joint appearance of Johnny Cash and Elvis on March 10, 1956 in Amory, Mississippi. A little checking revealed that Elvis actually performed in another state on that date. However, the concert did take place late in the previous year in Amory at the National Guard Armory. The Armory in Amory.
Everything on the poster appears to be correct, except for the actual date, which was December 12, 1955. I can't imagine why the bootleggers changed the date, unless it was to stay out of some kind of copyright lawsuit. I found this poster on http://www.retroplanet.com/PROD/24364. It measures 11″x17″ and sells for $12.99 That seems like a pretty good deal to me. I also found three different bogus posters on another website for $20 each, but all choices were sold-out
One thing about the Amory/Armory Elvis poster caught my eye. It showed that the concert also included a special guest — Carl Perkins. I wondered how many times these three rockabilly icons had appeared together on stage. I went to one of my favorite sources, “ELVIS — Day By Day,” written by Peter Guralnick and Ernst Jorgensen. The answer is it only happened twice: November 17, 1955, in Texarkana, Arkansas, and December 12, 1955 in Amory, MS . Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins performing at the same concert was a very rare phenomenon. The lucky folks in attendance had no idea what a historic event they were witnessing.
Johnny Cash had been on the bill with Elvis for fifteen dates prior to December 12, 1955 in Amory. There were three single night shots that Fall, a five-day tour in September, and a seven-day tour in October. There is no record of what songs Johnny Cash sang, but he had just one release on Sun Records going for him during that period: “Hey Porter,” released in June. However, an even bigger hit, “Folsome Prison Blues,” was released in December, so Cash certainly was promoting that when he joined Elvis in Amory.
Carl Perkins appeared in concert with Elvis just three times. The first was on the “Western Swing Jamboree,” where Hank Thompson was the supposed headliner, but everyone actually came to see Elvis. This November 1955 tour lasted seven days, and on day six, Johnny Cash joined the bill for the show mentioned above. Perkins had one single released at the time – “Gone, Gone, Gone.” However, his huge hit, “Blue Suede Shoes” came out in December, so you know the folks in Amory were treated to that.
Both Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins were creating some buzz at the time they appeared with Elvis at the Armory in Amory, MS, but Elvis was on fire. There is a brief mention of the concert by Terry Thornton on his website http://hillcountryofmonroecountry.blogspot.com/2007/07/elvis-presley-and-johnny-cash-and-carl.html. It also shows a different version of the bogus poster. This one has the date as June 10, 1955, not 1956. Why change it from one wrong date to another?
You might want to read Mr. Thornton's full report on the concert at http://hillcountryofmonroecountry.blogspot.com/2007/05/elvis-presley-in-hill-country-concert.html. There's some boring stuff in the beginning about a school play and at the end about his own hillbilly band and performing in the Army, but the bulk of the article is about the Elvis concert. He seems to attach special significance to the fact that Elvis played the guitar so hard he broke three or four strings. Because of this, it was the consensus of Mr. Thornton and his buddies that Elvis would never make it in the music business.
Sorry, fellows, you called that one wrong. Those screaming girls certainly saw something special.
It is interesting to note that RCA bought Elvis' contract from Sam Phillips at Sun Records on November 21, 1955, three weeks before the concert in Amory, MS. Elvis' career didn't really shift into overdrive until the following January, as he still had various concert contracts to fulfill. So it was that Carl Perkins appeared one more time with Elvis on December 15, 1955 in Helena, AR. The performance venue was sold out, of course, but it held just 500 seats. Within a few months, Elvis would appear on national television, release a #1 hit, record a million-selling album, and sign a movie contract with MGM. Those teenage boys at the Amory, MS concert didn't realize it, but Elvis was about to shake up the world.
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