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CONCERT DATE: August 6 1956. Lakeland, FL.

Three Unbiased Males Give Views of Elvis

Lakeland Ledger
August 7, 1956

Three male reporters for The Ledger pleaded successfully yesterday to have their chance at "interviewing" Elvis Presley.

They watched the show at the Polk.

One of them even talked to Elvis

He conceded, somewhat grudgingly, that Elvis off stage was different-and more likeable-from Elvis onstage.

Each wrote separate reviews, criticisms and editorial observations. The reporters were Jack Skelly, of the citrus and farm beat, Bob Jarrell of City Hall, and Bob Swift, general assignment man.

Excerpts from their comment:

Moot Point

Swift: Elvis Presley is the first burlesque dancer I've ever seen who didn't wear a rhinestone in his navel. Of course, he kept his shirt and pants on during his routine, so its still a moot point.

Skelly: Hundreds of girls gathered here yesterday to hear what was billed as America's number one singer. Some stood in a block long line to get tickets. Then at the end of the two-hour show, they saw a man walk across the stage in a two-tone tuxedo, guitar slung across his shoulders, and utter the following vocal tones for 15 minutes: "Oh, oo, ah, hee, ooo, eee, ah, oo." That was it.

Fever Pitch

Jarrell: The young man in the crimson coal leveled his gaze across a guitar, hunched his shoulders, and gave a suggestive wiggle to his hips. His voice was drowned in the roar of a thousand or more virginal voices, screaming at a fever pitch...A sea of emotion rolled away with a vast sigh, and Elvis Presley stood exposed like a shoreline at ebb tide.

Swift: the boy obviously bumps and grinds. He sings too, but his audience couldn't hear him because of ecstatic screaming form teen ager girls. He hardly touched his guitar. Mostly, he rassled the microphone from one end of the stage to the other. He skittered, twisted, jerked and shuffled his white suede shoes.

Unfair Critics

Skelly: Some unfair critics have said Presley moves his knees and thighs too much (and what did Charlie Chaplin do to get a laugh? Doesn't Jackie Gleason move his stomach now and then for the same?) I say go ahead, rock n roll, this is funny.

Jarrell: Here was an entertainer...(with)...a new twist to the ancient art of burlesque...with an appeal not to men but to women. The Presley invitation is...something better left somewhere else.

Swift: Presley sweated fiercely. He took off his coat and loosened his white tie. Everybody hollered. Presley grinned, pointed to the front row and bumped a wicked bump. Everybody whooped. Backstage, he watered down to a mild-talking hillbilly guitar player who called a male reporter "sir" and a "female reporter "honey." He spoke quietly answered questions politely, admitted he didn't know much about world affairs.

All Laughed

Skelly: Presley chatted with three boys in the band and they all laughed and Presley chuckled. I saw him-and so did seven policeman including several high ranking ones in the best seats. One of them at least didn't think Presley was funny.

Jarrell: With the exception of Presley, the show was of a caliber well worth the $1.50 admission. Recommended to any parent who accompanies teenage daughters to the theater and whisks them away in the final 15 minutes, when Presley comes on. Ray Brankey was superb with his rendition of "Hot Lips" and "Sugar Blues" a la Henry Busse. Comic Phil Maraquin coughed up a million golf balls. Vocalist Nancy Ford was sweet and charming. Irish tenor Frankie Conners was in excellent voice. He did not wiggle, however. The Blue Moon Boys, Bill Black, D. V. Fontana and Scotty Moore made a background of solid music. Fortunately....Presley is not brought on stage until these excellent acts have been presented.

Swift: He's two people. On stage, a grinning, frenzied upstart, puppet moving on rhythmic strings with a calculated aim of creating emotion in the adolescent audience. Backstage he's a smooth, mannerly young man. Anyway, the guy drives a bigger car than most of the people who watched him... and that, in the age of rock 'n roll is apparently the sign of success.

Courtesy of Kurt Hinkle