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Elvis Presley : Detroit, MI. Fox Theater : May 25, 1956

Unseen Elvis: Presley's first visit to Detroit in never-published photos

By Susan Whitall / Detroit News Music Writer.

It's May 1956. Americans were fretting about President Eisenhower's health, slugger Mickey Mantle was the toast of the baseball world, and 21-year-old Elvis Presley was about to make his first appearance at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. It had been a whirlwind five months for the soft-spoken truck driver from Tupelo, Miss., who recorded his first RCA Records session in January, yielding 'Heartbreak Hotel', which shot to No. 1.

Elvis was winding up a tour of the Midwest when he came to Detroit on Friday, May 25, 1956.

By the time Alan opened the curtains to yell, 'Ladies and gentleman, Elvis Presley', the screaming was already so loud that nobody heard a thing. 'I screamed so much I never heard a word he sang', Bainbridge says. 'I'll never forget how he dressed, the way he held the microphone, moved around on the stage.

Elvis stood legs apart to swivel, then crouched down to touch outstretched hands.

He was different, original and, damn, he was cool. The girls today would say 'hot', and he was'.

All photos from the book, Elvis Presley Books A Moment In Time : 4 Days In '56.

The photographs show Elvis in and around the Fox Theatre, greeting Detroit Times contest winners backstage, relaxing in a downtown arcade and enjoying himself at an adult party.

Detroit teenagers may have been ecstatic at Elvis' arrival, but newspaper writers barely hid their disdain.

Elvis Presley relaxes at an adult party in Detroit after his Fox shows on May 25, 1956.
Elvis Presley relaxes at an adult party in Detroit after his Fox shows on May 25, 1956.

These lucky teen winners of a Detroit Times essay contest got to meet with Elvis Presley backstage at the Fox on May 25, 1956.
These lucky teen winners of a Detroit Times essay contest got to meet with Elvis Presley backstage at the Fox on May 25, 1956.

Elvis lets off steam at a downtown pinball arcade, in between Fox Theatre shows. (Photo courtesy of MRPI Collection)
Elvis lets off steam at a downtown pinball arcade, in between Fox Theatre shows. (Photo courtesy of MRPI Collection).

Elvis Presley talks as two young reporters listen attentively backstage at the Fox Theatre.
Elvis Presley talks as two young reporters listen attentively backstage at the Fox Theatre.

Elvis Presley talks as two young reporters listen attentively backstage at the Fox Theatre.
Elvis Presley talks as two young reporters listen attentively backstage at the Fox Theatre.

Excited teens scream as Elvis performs at the Fox Theatre, his first time in Detroit. (Photo courtesy of MRPI Collection).
Excited teens scream as Elvis performs at the Fox Theatre, his first time in Detroit. (Photo courtesy of MRPI Collection).

Are you in these photos? : See below ...

Vera Brown wrote in typically snappy, Detroit Times tabloid style of Elvis: 'He rarely gets a haircut, does a kind of hillbilly derivative. When he winds himself around a mike and gives out, the kids go crazy. Nothing like it since the early Frank Sinatra days. Only way to keep calm about all this is to try to remember how silly you were in your high school days'. Brown met Elvis at the airport, where she demanded to know why he needed four Cadillacs. 'I just like automobiles', he said. His latest one was pink with white leather upholstery. Brown also described his turnout: a black shirt open at the throat, and black pegged pants.

Why, the columnist demanded of the singer, was he so popular?

'If I knew I would tell you', Elvis replied politely. 'I honestly don't know how it took place, but if I can go on from here into the movies, that would be swell'. He told reporters he doesn't drink and has no girlfriend yet. 'I still love my mother who lives in Memphis'. Incredibly, the day before Elvis' three Friday shows (4, 7 and 9:45 p.m.), Bob Bothwell, managing director of the Fox Theatre, said good seats were still available.

As if Elvis wasn't enough entertainment for the $1.50 ticket, there were numerous other acts on the bill:

The Jordanaires (his backup singers), Frankie Connors, Jackie Little and Maurice King and the Wolverines (the house band at Detroit's Flame Showbar). At age 14, Carol Bainbridge was one of the 'teeners' who really didn't care what snarky, middle-aged newspaper writers thought of Elvis. Her father, Larry McCann, had interviewed Elvis on his WXYZ-TV talk show, and he scored her two tickets to the 4 p.m. show. Bainbridge and a girlfriend took a bus downtown from Three Mile Drive and Mack, and sat in the front row. 'I touched his shoes and screamed my heart out while he sang in front of me', Bainbridge says.

Elvis had been introduced at that early show by a young Detroiter, Lee Alan Reicheld, who held down the all-night air shift at WJLB. Reicheld, better known by his later disc jockey name, Lee Alan, was told by WJLB's top jock, 'Frantic' Ernie Durham, that he had a gig for him. 'He said, 'You've got to go to the Fox Theatre and introduce Elvis', Alan recalls. The young jock went to the Fox as ordered, and was preparing to open the stage curtains when he heard a soft voice behind him say, 'Hey, what's your name?' Alan turned, and it was Elvis, ever the gentleman. He really wanted to know. 'Lee Reicheld', Alan told him. 'I didn't think he could pronounce it anyway.' But he did, and always remembered Alan's real name after that.

By the time Alan opened the curtains to yell, 'Ladies and gentleman, Elvis Presley', the screaming was already so loud that nobody heard a thing. 'I screamed so much I never heard a word he sang', Bainbridge says. 'I'll never forget how he dressed, the way he held the microphone, moved around on the stage.

Elvis stood legs apart to swivel, then crouched down to touch outstretched hands.

He was different, original and, damn, he was cool. The girls today would say 'hot', and he was'.

Reviews of Elvis' show are inadvertently hilarious. The Detroit Times reviewer complained that Elvis did 'unknown' songs like 'I've Got a Woman' and 'Long Lost Sally' (meaning, 'Long Tall Sally'.)

The Detroit News reviewer recognized 'Long Tall Sally', but deployed several zingers, describing Elvis as an ex-trucker with a shimmy, and sniffing: 'The guitar seldom got twanged, because Elvis was too busy flexing his knees and swinging his thighs like a soubrette in the palmy days of burlesque'.

Meanwhile, backstage at the Fox, another Detroit radio personality was making his way to Elvis' dressing room to meet the legend. Robin Seymour had been embroiled in controversy since he'd dismissed Elvis on his WKMH radio show as a fly-by-night phenomenon that wouldn't last. 'There were 100 kids on bikes in front of my house with signs', Seymour recalls, laughing. 'Get rid of Robin Seymour, he's a jerk! 'It was a gimmick, Seymour insists; he didn't really dislike Elvis. But Seymour didn't introduce the singer at the later shows - that honor was reserved for Mickey Schorr. Seymour did want to meet him, though, and Fox manager Bothwell got him backstage. There Seymour was to discover that, despite the wholesome reports in the press about not drinking and such, Elvis was having big fun. When the dressing room door opened, the disc jockey was startled to see several naked girls. 'He was sitting on the couch wearing a silk robe; there were about five girls trotting around', Seymour says. Showgirls from the nearby Stone Burlesk? He hasn't a clue.

'I didn't stay that long', Seymour says with a laugh.

Elvis Presley Detroit, MI. Fox Theater May 25, 1956

From the book, Elvis Presley Books A Moment In Time : 4 Days In '56.

January 1956

TV Appearance = Elvis on TV : 1956 : One incredible year !!!

Articles about Elvis Presley Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : RCA's McGavock St Studio : January 10 and 11, April 14, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos 1956 business contract signed by Colonel Parker and Elvis for The Elvis Presley Show
Elvis Presley Video Elvis Presley : The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show : January 28, 1956 TV Appearance

February

Elvis Presley Video Elvis Presley : The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show : February 4, 1956 TV Appearance
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black : February 9, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Backstage February 10, 1956
Elvis Presley Video Elvis Presley : The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show : February 11, 1956 TV Appearance
Elvis Presley Video Elvis Presley : The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show : February 18, 1956 TV Appearance

March

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley 1956 : March : June : July New page link
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley's 1956 Home : 1034 Audubon Drive, Memphis, TN

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : The Lousinana Hayride : March 10, 1956
Elvis Presley Video Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show : March 17, 1956 TV Appearance
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley singing and playing gospel music : March 17, 1956 New page link
Elvis Presley Photos Jimmy Dean and Elvis Presley on the Jimmy Dean WMAL-TV Show, March 23, 1956
Elvis Presley Video Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show : March 24, 1956 TV Appearance

April

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : The Milton Berle Show : April 3, 1956 TV Appearance
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Arena : San Diego : April 4, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Arena : San Diego : April 4, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Wichita Falls, Texas : April 9, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Fair Park Coliseum, Lubbock, TX : April 10, 1956
Articles about Elvis Presley Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley- RCA's McGavock St Studio : January 10 and 11, April 14, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : San Antonio : April 15, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Oklahoma City : April 19, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : April 20, 1956 : North Side Coliseum, Forth Worth
Articles about Elvis Presley Elvis Presley, New Singing Find, Booked Into New Frontier : April 21, 1956 Link
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley at The New Frontier Hotel : From April 23, 1956
Elvis Presley CD, Book and DVD Reviews Review : Elvis Presley at The New Frontier : Las Vegas Sun : April 26, 1956 Link
Elvis Presley CD, Book and DVD Reviews Review : Elvis Presley at The New Frontier : Las Vegas SUN : April 28, 1956 Link

May

Elvis Presley CD, Book and DVD Reviews Review : Elvis Presley at The New Frontier : Las Vegas SUN : May 1, 1956 Link
Elvis Presley CD, Book and DVD Reviews Letter to the editor : Las Vegas SUN : May 12, 1956 Link
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Auditorium in St. Paul, Minnesota : May 13, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : May 14, 1956 : LaCrosse Wisconsin
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : May 15, 1956 : Ellis Auditorium
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley Detroit, MI. Fox Theater May 25, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Columbus, Ohio : May 26, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis, Scotty, Bill and DJ performed two shows at the UD Fieldhouse in Dayton : May 27, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos
Elvis Presley Dayton, Oh., as Elvis left for Memphis : May 28, 1956
Elvis Presley Video Elvis greeting fans at Los Angeles Airport, 1956

June

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley 1956 : March : June : July New page link
Elvis Presley Photos Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley swap autographs, Memphis : June 1, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Arriving in Oakland : June 3, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : In Concert : Oakland California : June 3, 1956 New page link
Elvis Presley Photos The Milton Berle Show : Los Angeles : June 5, 1956 TV Appearance
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : June 7, 1956 : Long Beach Municipal Auditorium
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : June 8, 1956
Articles about Elvis Presley Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley MP3 Audio Elvis Presley Video June 16, 1956 : Wink Martindale TV Show
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley and Red West at Elvis' 1034 Audubon Drive House : June 14, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley MP3 Audio Elvis Presley Video The Wink Martindale Show : June 16, 1956 TV Appearance
Elvis Presley Photos Vernon, Gladys and Elvis Presley sing at the piano : 1034 Audubon Drive House : June 17, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley and Barbara Hearn : June 19, 1956 : Fairgrounds Amusement Park, Memphis
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley and Barbara Hearn at Elvis' 1034 Audubon Drive House : June 19, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley with Susan Hayward : June 28, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Mosque Theater, Richmond, Va : June 30, 1956

July

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley 1956 : March : June : July New page link
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Hudson Theater : New York City : Steve Allen Show : July 1, 1956 TV Appearance
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : RCA Studio One, Memphis, Tennessee : July 2, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos
Elvis Presley : On The Train to, Memphis, Tennessee : July 3, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Russwood Park, Memphis, Tennessee : July 4, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : St. Joseph's Hospital Memphis Tennessee : July 5, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Ocean Springs, MS. : Thursday, July 12, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis performs with The Statesman Quartet at Ellis Auditorium : July 27, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Water Skiing : Biloxi : July 31, 1956 New page link

August

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley Love Me Tender Movie Set Photos
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Olympia Theater, Miami, Florida : August 3, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : August 5, 1956 : Tampa Florida
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Florida Theatre St. Petersburg : August 7, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Jacksonville, FL. Florida Theater (3 shows per day) : August 10-11, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley at the Knickerbocker Hotel, Hollywood : August 18, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Love Me Tender Recording Sessions : August 24, 1956
Elvis Presley MP3 Audio Elvis Presley : August 29, 1956 : Hollywood, California (The Truth About Me) + Out Takes [Audio only]
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : August 31, 1956 : On the set of Love Me Tender

September

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : The Ed Sullivan Show : 1956-1957
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : September 1-3, 1956 Recording Sessions
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : First Appearance : The Ed Sullivan Show : September 9, 1956 TV Appearance
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley: Asleep In Flight : Back To Memphis September 23, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : September 26, 1956 : Tupelo, MS. Mississippi-Alabama Fairgrounds
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley at the Mid-South Fair : Memphis September 29, 1956

October

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : October 5, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos
Elvis Presley : Cotton Bowl, Dallas : October 11, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos
Elvis Presley : October 18, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : October 19, 1956 : Assault Charge
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : The Ed Sullivan Show Rehearsals : October 26-28, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : The Ed Sullivan Show : Dress Rehearsals : October 28, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : The Ed Sullivan Show : Press Conference : October 28, 1956

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley gets his Polio Shot : October 28, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : The Ed Sullivan Show : October 28, 1956 TV Appearance
Elvis Presley Photos Natalie Wood and Elvis Presley outside the Hotel Chisca : October 31, 1956

November

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis : Toledo : November 22, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : Cleveland Arena, Ohio : November 23, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : E.H. Crump Memorial Football Game : November 30, 1956

December

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley : December 11, 1956 : Mobbed by fans in Memphis after running out of gas
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley's Last Louisiana Hayride Performance : December 15, 1956
Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley Touch Football : Dave Wells Community Center : December 27, 1956

1957

Elvis Presley Photos Elvis Presley: The Ed Sullivan Show : His third and final Appearance : January 6, 1957 TV Appearance

The Movies Of 1956

Elvis Presleys Movies 1956, Love Me Tender, Twentieth Century Fox

The Movies In Photos

Elvis Presley Photos Love Me Tender New page link

DVDs

DVD Elvis : The Ed Sullivan Show : The Classic Performances DVD
DVD The Milton Berle Shows DVD
DVD Elvis : The King Of Rock n Roll 30 Hit Performances And More DVD

Elvis on The Ed Sullivan Shows

CDs

CD The Complete Louisiana Hayride Archives 1954-1956
CD Greatest Live Hits of the 50’s CD From MRS
CD Elvis At SUN
CD Elvis Presley : FTD Special Edition 2 CD
CD The Million Dollar Quartet
CD The King Of Rock 'N' Roll : The Complete 50's Masters
CD Elvis' Golden Records CD

Books

Book The Elvis Files Volume 1 : 1953-1956
Book A Moment In Time : 4 Days in '56 : Hardcover book from FTD
Book
Rock, Sex, and Roll : Elvis Presley Hardcover Book [JAT]
Book The Rock 'N Roll Years : My Wish Came True : 1954-56
Book Elvis : The Hottest Thing That's Cool The '50s inc, Ed Sullivan and Steve Allen Shows
Book Flashback Book + 2 CDs
Book Elvis : The Hottest Thing That's Cool - Elvis Book
Book Elvis Presley: The Family Album Book

Elvis Presley Photos

Elvis Presley Photos

Elvis Presley Video Video Preview: Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD

Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD + 16 page booklet. Never before have we seen an Elvis concert from the 50's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered Unreleased Film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don’t Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. This is an excellent release no fan should be without it. The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people.

We love Elvis Presley !!!!!!!! : So ... Stop, look and listen baby that's our philosophy ... First thing in the morning, last thing at night ... look, stare everywhere and see everything inside ... Stop, look and listen!

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