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Presley Leaves You In A Blue Suede Funk

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By Ralph J. Gleason
The San Francisco Chronicle
June 5, 1956

Concert Date : June 3, 1956. Oakland, CA.

Elvis Presley doesn't wear blue suede shoes. He wears black pumps and when he goes on stage to sing he removes his cream-colored striped jacket with the black velvet collar and puts a blood-red one.

Prior to his appearance on the stage, he chats quietly with former schoolmates, acquaintances and musicians in the dressing room. Sunday night in Oakland, he poked his head outside and occasionally yelled at the audience which earlier that afternoon had done its best to step on his black pumps.

Elvis Presley - June 3, 1956. Oakland, CA.
Elvis Presley - June 3, 1956. Oakland, CA.

He is afraid of the crowd. Perhaps 'afraid' is not exactly the right word - he says he loves them.

But he wouldn't pay a visit to the men's room Sunday night without a police escort

The reaction of the audience, which was mainly teenage girls, is simply frightening.

At the afternoon performance, one of the ushers claimed an impromptu, voluntary panty raid disrupted proceedings for a while and at the evening show two young ladies collapsed with a mild case of hysteria and another fainted clear away at the mere prospect of owning an autograph from the Presley pen.

Presley's reaction to the crowd is unusual. he plays to it constantly on stage with a performance that it is earthy and extremely direct and you won't see it on the Milton Berle show tonight when he makes his appearance. It's a bit rugged for TV. 'ah thunk they're wunnerful'. Presley says in a thick southern drawl, of the audience. 'It makes muh want to live up to their opinion of muh'.

After the show, Presley stayed in the dressing room for almost half an hour until a squad of Oakland police could safely escort him to his car. As it was, 50 assorted fans managed to grab him and shouted and screamed as he drove away. To the few who were able to crash the police line and actually get near to him. Presley was casual, friendly and seemed to make it a habit to give each a quick peck on the cheek.

As to performance itself, there were several interesting things. He apparently doesn't play the guitar at all, uses it merely as a prop. He is obviously either a trained showman or a natural one. His entire performance, grotesque as it may be, was deftly aimed at his own fans whom he deliberately raised to an emotional pitch that bears no little resemblance to the effect of Johnnie Ray, Frank Sinatra and, eve, to those thousands who crowded the Sportspalast in berlin to chant in unison during the Third Reich. his emotional power is frightening.

But his musical performance is as elemental as the gyrations of an 'exotic' dancer in a Tenderloin joint.

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