What It Was Like Discovering Elvis in 1956

Last week, frequent ElvisBlog commenter Katgirlblue wrote,

”Wow! You were a teenager in 1956?!! You actually witnessed the early explosion of rock ‘n roll and the Elvis revolution!? I can only imagine how great that must have been…. I’m so jealous.”

That reminded me I had written an article that touched on this subject in the Winter 1999 issue of Elvis International magazine.

Elvis International Article


The article went back to the year when I discovered Elvis. Of course, everybody discovered Elvis that year. He blasted into stardom and took us teenagers along for the ride.

However, 44 years later (back in 1999), I couldn’t remember exactly when I first connected with Elvis. So, I watched videos of all of Elvis’ 1956 TV appearances to find clues.

Elvis 56

It was pretty fun research to do, and it paid off. I was able to make an exact determination of my Elvis epiphany and wrote about it.

For this ElvisBlog post, I scanned the article, cut it up, and pasted it in sections. I stuck in relevant pictures to break up the long blocks of text. I hope you enjoy my personal Elvis story.


Joe Niagara


Elvis With Dorsey BrothersElvis with Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey



(Magazine format changed from 2-column to 3-column at this point)







It’s an interesting endeavor for a writer to critique something he wrote twenty years ago.  I am disappointed in myself for for the double that year.  The folks at Elvis International didn’t catch it either.

As I read it today, this story seems to wander a bit. It starts out about the Artist of the Century, and then goes into my search to determine when I discovered Elvis. It was seeing him on the Milton Berle show, but then I continued to describe his appearances on the Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan shows. And finally, because Sullivan showed him from the waist up, I explained how Elvis used his eyes and hands to connect with us fans.

If I had been writing ElvisBlog back then, I would have had enough subjects for four different posts.


Anyway, in spite of the wandering narrative, I hope you enjoyed this.



© 2019 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net


Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.


14 responses to “What It Was Like Discovering Elvis in 1956

  1. Hi Phil,
    Thank you so much for posting this, I had no idea I’d be the catalyst for such a great story! I loved reading it, and can imagine the impact Elvis had on a 13 year old kid. I was only a little younger the first time I heard The Beatles and lost my mind. I was aware of Elvis but at that time he wasn’t very cool, and it was quite a while before I realized that he was actually the coolest guy on the planet. Since then I always wanted to know how it felt to be there at the beginning.

    I kind of wish there had been a “Back to the Future” type movie about Elvis. You know, young Elvis in Tupelo hardware, maybe refusing the guitar, and the time traveler would have to convince him to take it. Maybe older Elvis deciding not to marry Priscilla, but he’d have to convince him because “there has to be Lisa!” And so on….
    Thank you again, I loved it!

    • Hi Katgirlblue: Nice long comment. “coolest guy on the planet.” I like that. Your idea on a Back to the Future type movie about Elvis is great.


  2. Enjoyed the reminiscences. People today who are used to the internet have no idea how unique it was to have Elvis become so famous so fast in the 1950’s. I am ever grateful that I fell in love with him in 1956. He has always been a part of my life, every day since. It is a happy thing to be a true fan.

    • Hi Diana: Sounds like you and I had similar experiences in the late 50s. I’m glad like Elvis brought you lots of happiness over the years.

      Phil Arnold

  3. Marilyn Relf

    Thank you for a great post – I really enjoyed reading it and you really captured the excitement of
    those times and discovering Elvis.

    • Hi Marilyn. Thanks for your kind words. It was an exciting time, and I’m so glad I have memories of the early days of Elvis.


  4. Memphis Music

    Great post! The first I heard of Elvis was Yellow Rose of Texas, and The Rosary! My Father; a Catholic Texan living in Montana had a huge record collection. I was 9 years old. Would have loved to been a teenager in the late 1950’s!
    I watched Elvis 56 last week and loved it just as much as all the other times. Hope this finds you doing well.

    • Hi Carol. Always great to hear from you. And it was great to be a teenager in the late 50s. In addition to being there for the birth of rock and roll, everything in life was so much simpler back then. If they ever invent time-travel, the late 50s would be a suoer time to do back to.


  5. Teresa House-Hatfield

    Thanks. I really enjoyed this. I was only 3 in 1956, but have copies of all those performances and it gives me a fresh perspective to hear how seeing them “live” affected you. They still affect me the same way you describe more than 60 years later.

    • Hi Teresa: Thanks for commenting. It seems my article had the most response from older fans. I thought maybe some of the latter-day fans would comment as well.


  6. Clementine Moriarty

    Hope you receive this message Phil…..quite a walk, with you as a thirteen yr old …with the ‘discovery of the future ‘King’! It does remind me that I actually heard Elvis the very first time…on the radio…singing ‘That’s All Right’……..probably in December, 1954. I was astounded when I found out later that Elvis Presley was a ‘white guy’ from Memphis, Tennessee! I was thirteen years old too! Great story Phil and thanks for the memories!

    • Hi Clementine: Thanks for your comment. I was hoping to hear from some folks who had memories going back to the early days of Elvis.


  7. Billy Martin

    My Dear Friend Phil,

    It has been a while since I sent a reply but I have read each of your reports. This particular one really jumps out at me and further confirms again that you are among the very few ultimate consummate Elvis bloggers. Elvis would be proud of you just like I am. Hope this finds you and yours doing well.
    Billy F. Martin

    • Wow, Billy. That was fast. Thanks for calling me an ultimate consummate Elvis blogger. I’ve gotta show this to my wife. Hope you are well, too.


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