Little Rock Look Back: The first Elvis performance in Little Rock

Photo by Wayne Cranford

Photo by Wayne Cranford

Sixty-two years ago today, on February 20, 1955, Elvis Presley made his first appearance on stage in Little Rock. He performed at Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium.

He was billed as “an added attraction” to a Grand Ole Opry Show headlined by the Duke of Paducah.  Others on the bill included Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters, Jimmie Rodgers Snow, Charlie Stewart, the Singing Hardens, Sammy Barnhart, Bob Neal, Uncle Dudley and Smilin’ Mac Cyclone. (It is interesting to note that at least some of the advance tickets billed it as The Elvis Presley Show, though the newspaper ads billed the Duke of Paducah as the headliner.)

eap receits 05-little.rock_.feb_.55This concert was part of a weeklong tour of Arkansas and Louisiana.  There were two shows that day – one at 3p.m. and the other at 8:15p.m.  Tickets on the day of the concert were $1.00 for adults and fifty cents for children.  Advanced tickets had sold for 75 cents at Walgreens.

The night before, Elvis played the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport.  Following his Little Rock appearance (for which he and his band were paid $350 instead of their usual $200), they played in Camden, Hope, and Pine Bluff.

It is believed that Elvis’ parents attended this concert in Little Rock. Gladys Presley was a big fan of the Duke of Paducah. Elvis apparently also wanted his parents to meet with Colonel Tom Parker, who would become inexorably linked with Elvis’ career.