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Houston History: Elvis rocked Houston before becoming an international sensation

Long live the King of Rock n’ Roll

Elvis Presley (U.S. Army) (MGM)

HOUSTON – Nearly 65 years ago, Elvis Presley set foot in the Lone Star State. Before the King of Rock N’ Roll was swinging his hips and drawing large crowds of screaming fans, the musician was making a name for himself, performing at local radio stations, bars and clubs.

In 1954, Elvis formed a trio with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black. The Blue Moon Boys began performing together, booking local gigs in the South. On Nov. 21 1954, Elvis made his Houston debut and performed at Magnolia Gardens. This was the stepping stone to future performances in Houston.

Elvis performing at Magnolia Gardens

On Nov. 25, 1954, Elvis and the band were booked at the Paladium. According to Scott, there was a minor typo in one of the ads, printing Elvis’s name as “Pressley.” That didn’t stop the crowds, Elvis was asked to perform for two additional nights. He even performed in the the city twice more before turning into a national star.

It’s believed the musician performed 13 times in Houston in 1955. Some of the venues included the Magnolia Garden, Cook’s Hoedown Club, Paladium and Eagles Hall.

As the years went by, his popularity blossomed. He was drafted in the U.S. Army, became an actor, and sold out venues at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.

A scene from Presley's movie "Blue Hawaii," which premiered in November 1961. The movie would open at No. 2 at the box office and, despite mixed reviews from critics, finish as the 10th top-grossing movie of 1961 and 14th for 1962, earning a total of $5 million.

It was until March 1970 when the king would hit the road and come back to Texas to perform at the Astrodome for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

In just six shows, the musician attracted more than 200,000 fans, setting records for Houston.

Elvis performing at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

The era of Elvis came to an end on August 16, 1977 when Elvis died in his home at Graceland.

According to Graceland, the King of Rock 'n' Roll performed in Texas approximately 138 times from 1954-1977. Although Tennessee and Mississippi are mainly associated with the musician, Texas played a vital role in the rise of Elvis Presley.

Elvis’s first Texas Appearances in 1954

Nov. 21 - Magnolia Gardens, HOUSTON

Nov. 21 - Cook’s Hoedown Club, HOUSTON

Nov. 22 - Mint Club, GLADEWATER

Nov. 24-27 Paladium Club, HOUSTON

Dec. 3 - Municipal Auditorium, TEXARKANA

Dec. 17 - High Shcool Gymnasium, HAWKINS

Dec. 28 - Cook’s Hoedown Club Yuletide Jamboree, HOUSTON

Dec. 31 - Red River Army Depot at NCO Club, TEXARKANA


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