Elvis Presley | Fort Homer W. Hesterly Armory, Tampa, FL | July 31, 1955
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Elvis, Scotty and Bill performed at Fort Homer W. Hesterly Armory, Tampa, Florida on four occasions, the first on May 8, 1955 just five days before their appearance in Jacksonville where at the conclusion of the performance, Elvis announces to a good portion of the audience of 14,000: 'Girls, I'll see you backstage'. The response was a full--scale riot, with fans pursuing Elvis into the dressing room and tearing off his clothes and shoes. In the opinion of the Colonel's advance man, Oscar Davis, this was the point at which Colonel Parker was irrevocably sold on the growth potential of Elvis Presley.
During their second appearance at the Armory on July 31, 1955 the Colonel Parker hired local photographer William V. 'Red' Robertson to shoot a series of photos. One, commonly referred to as the 'Tonsil' photo, in a cropped version would later be used as the cover of Elvis' first Elvis Presley LP from RCA in 1956 and used extensively in newspaper and print to promote future shows. It also became a famous Hatch show promotional print. (Below)
By the time of their final two appearances at the Armory on February 19 and August 5, 1956, each of which followed recent television appearances (The Dorsey Bros. Stage Show and The Steve Allen Show), they had gone from supporting act to headliner. DJ Fontana was now a regular member of the band and performed there with them also.
Robertson Or Popsie?
Resolving this apparent historical stalemate as to who took the famous photos, took a few phone calls, e-mails and faxes. But the facts are in.
'We were wrong', Guralnick says. Guralnick and Jorgensen relied on a credit line from the back cover of Presley's first album that reads 'Photos: Popsie'. Guralnick says they didn't know at the time what Robertson & Fresh was, and they could find no documents that would have disproved the Popsie credit.
Joe Tunzi, a music archivist and author of 20 books about Elvis, is adamant about the source of the photo: 'Forget about Popsie. Popsie did not take that photo'. Tunzi, who runs JAT Publishing in Chicago, says the credit line refers only to a series of four shots that were used on the album's back cover, not to the vibrant black-and-white cover photo. Though the photo used on the album cover has no imprint, Tunzi says it clearly fits into the sequence of shots by Robertson & Fresh.
Jorgensen agrees. 'You're right about the photos', Jorgensen wrote when contacted for this article. 'Robertson/Fresh took the front - Popsie the rest'. Read full story - Forever Elvis in Tampa.
Scotty Moore and Elvis at Fort Homer W. Hesterly Armory, Tampa, FL July 31, 1955
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