Elvis Presley | October 19, 1956 | Assault Charge
Elvis Presley in a Memphis city court on Oct. 19, 1956, along with Gulf service station employees Edd Hopper (left) and Aubrey Brown. The trio had a fight the previous night when Elvis pulled into the station at Gayoso and Second for repairs and was besieged by fans. Hopper, the station manager, ordered Presley away and a brief altercation ensued. All three were booked for assault and battery and disorderly conduct.
Charges against Presley were dismissed. Hopper and Brown both had to pay fines.
Elvis Presley : October 19, 1956.
Elvis Presley swapped pleasantries with well-wishers after being cleared.
Immediately above; Elvis Presley swapped pleasantries with well-wishers after being cleared in a Memphis city court of charges Friday October 19, 1956. Presley and Gulf service station employees Edd Hopper and Aubrey Brown had a fight the previous night when Elvis pulled into the station at Gayoso and Second for repairs and was besieged by fans. Hopper, the station manager, ordered Presley away and a brief altercation ensued. All three were booked for assault and battery and disorderly conduct. Hopper and Brown both had to pay fines. At left is Presley's father, Vernon Presley. (Robert Williams / The Commercial Appeal).
Elvis' Rebellious Image in '56 : Fueled by Gas Station Fight
'I'll regret this day as long as I live. I guess lots of people were waiting for this kind of thing to happen. It's getting where I can't even leave the house without something happening to me'. (The New York Post, October 19, 1956)
That's what Elvis Presley said on October 18, 1956, after posting bail on an assault and disorderly conduct charge in Memphis. Presley participated in a relatively minor scuffle at a service station that afternoon. In fact, if he hadn't been involved, the story would never have made the local papers. Instead, it was news all over the country. The story is a good example of how an insolated incident in Elvis Presley's life could wind up having a substantial effect on his public image.
The events leading up to the incident seemed harmless enough. Elvis had just come home to Memphis after a four-day concert tour in Texas. He had a month to rest up before heading back out on the road in late November. Out for a drive in his white Continental Mark II, Elvis smelled some gas fumes and pulled into a service station to have his exhaust line checked for leaks. After the car was checked out, Elvis started the engine to drive away.
However, by that time the sight of the $10,000 automobile and its side-burned driver had drawn a crowd. When a group of young girls approached, Elvis shut off the motor and began signing autographs. With traffic blocked so that other customers couldn't reach the pumps, the station owner asked Elvis to move his car. The confrontation quickly turned physical, but Elvis and the owner had differing stories about the sequence of events.
Elvis lands a haymaker on station owner
According to station owner Edd Hopper, he asked the car's driver three times in a nice way to move his vehicle. 'He'd say ‘I'm fixin' to move', but he didn't', said Hopper of Elvis. 'We didn't know who he was, but I would have asked anyone to move. The last time I told him he started to get out and I shoved him back in the car. He started out after me'. Elvis threw a right-handed punch that cut a half-inch gash at the corner of Hopper's left eye. Hopper claimed someone was holding his arms when Presley connected. Aubrey Brown, a station employee, then came running out to his boss's aid. Elvis took a swing at him, too.
The way Elvis told it, Hopper asked him to move so that other customers could be waited on, but 'three young ladies came up and asked me for an autograph'. He said he was obliging them when Hopper slugged him through the window, saying, 'I don't care if you are Elvis Presley'.
Then, according to a United Press story, 'Presley, a broad-shouldered, well-built man of 21, who would be in about the light heavyweight class, if slugged for a living rather than strumming and singing, jumped out of his automobile and landed a stiff punch on Hopper's jaw'. A total of five blows were struck before two Memphis patrolmen standing on the corner rushed in to break up the fracas. A witness, Harvey Huff, told the officers that Hopper had 'hit Presley in the back of his head." The cops also claimed that when they first grabbed Hopper, 'he was trying to unlimber a small pocket knife'.
Justifying his actions, Elvis said at the scene, 'I can take slurring remarks, but when somebody hits you, it's a different story'.
Press exaggerated Presley's vital stats
The tale of the tape for the combatants, according to press reports, was Elvis, age 21, 6"1" and 185 pounds versus Hopper, age 42, 5"5", 160 pounds, and Brown, age 21 at 225 pounds. Hopper got by far the worst of it. (Witness Huff later said Hopper's eye looked like a 'traveling bag'. ) Presley and Brown, who admitted that Elvis 'just barely did hit me in the left eye', emerged with scratches.
All three men were arrested and taken to Police Headquarters, where they were booked on identical charges. When asked to give his name at the station, Elvis quipped, 'Well, maybe you'd better put down Carl Perkins'. After all three posted $52 bail, they were ordered to appear in court the next day. About an hour after the fight, a reporter called Elvis' home to get a comment from the singer. However, Vernon Presley told him that his son 'was out in the back yard feeding the mule'.
It wasn't your average day at Memphis City Court the following morning. One reporter counted 207 females on hand when Elvis arrived. 'By taxi, auto and even in trucks, the women had descended on City Hall for the trial, causing a terrific traffic jam', according to the UP report. 'There were teen-agers, young married women and a few even carrying babies'. As they scrambled for seats in the courtroom, one asked, 'Where is our darling Elvis? If he gets fined, I'll pay it'.
While Judge Samuel Friedman dealt with a few drunks, a jovial Elvis talked with fans and reporters in the hallway. The three men were then called to the bench to tell their stories. After fining Hopper $25 and Brown $15, Judge Friedman lectured both men against 'taking the law into their own hands'. Then he turned to Presley. When Friedman dismissed both charges against the singer, the courtroom erupted in applause. Taking a dim view of the outburst, the judge announced, 'This is a court, not a show'.
Judge advised Elvis to get along with businessmen
Before letting Presley go, Judge Friedman counseled him. 'In the future you should take into consideration that you have a large following and should cooperate fully with business people in order to avoid disruptions'. Elvis said that he would and left the courtroom surrounded by a flock of women.
Elvis said he regretted his actions that day at the service station, but the incident certainly didn't damage his rock 'n' roll image. Just the opposite, in fact. As one reporter noted, 'The rock and roll rage's press agent couldn't have dreamed up a better ending for the script'. The nationwide press reports of Elvis slugging it out with a couple of gas station attendants only enhanced his rebellious image among his fans. At the other end of the spectrum, his critics cited the incident as proof of his negative influence on young people. It helped increase the gap between pro and anti-Elvis sentiment, and his pubic profile intensified.
And it wasn't the last such incident for which Presley made the news in 1956. In November he was involved in a brief barroom fracas when a jealous husband who challenged him to a fight. Blows were thrown but neither man was injured. Then, in March 1957, Elvis pulled a pistol on a young marine during a squabble over a girl in Memphis. (The pistol turned out to be a Hollywood prop, and Elvis wrote a letter of apology to the marine.)
Elvis took on all-comers on the silver screen
Presley took this street brawling image into his film career. In nearly all of his 31 Hollywood movies, Elvis engaged in fisticuffs with numerous cads and scoundrels. In 'Jailhouse Rock' he even killed a man with his fists.
Was Elvis a tough guy in real life? He appears to have been a scrapper when young, but once he became famous he surrounded himself with some real 'bad asses' (most notably Red West) to do his fighting for him. Unfortunately, later in his life, Elvis' bizarre behavior included some overly aggressive delusions, involving karate, guns, and badges. Perhaps he just lost the ability to tell the difference between his tough guy image and who he really was.
Elvis Presley RCA's McGavock St Studio | January 10 and 11, April 14, 1956
1956 business contract signed by Colonel Parker and Elvis for The Elvis Presley Show
Elvis Presley The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show | January 28, 1956
Elvis Presley The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show | February 4, 1956
Elvis Presley, Scotty Moore and Bill Black | February 9, 1956
Elvis Presley Backstage February 10, 1956
Elvis Presley The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show| February 11, 1956
Elvis Presley The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show | February 18, 1956
Elvis Presley The Lousinana Hayride | March 10, 1956
Elvis Presley The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show | March 17, 1956
Elvis Presley singing and playing gospel music | March 17, 1956
Jimmy Dean and Elvis Presley on the Jimmy Dean WMAL-TV Show, March 23, 1956
Elvis Presley The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show | March 24, 1956
Elvis Presley The Milton Berle Show | April 3, 1956
Elvis Presley Arena | San Diego | April 4, 1956
Elvis Presley Wichita Falls, Texas | April 9, 1956
Elvis Presley Fair Park Coliseum, Lubbock, TX | April 10, 1956
Elvis Presley RCA's McGavock St Studio | January 10 and 11, April 14, 1956
Elvis Presley San Antonio | April 15, 1956
Elvis Gives Out With Crazy Cool Interview | April 17, 1956
Elvis thrilled Tulsa teens at fairgrounds April 18, 1956
Elvis Presley Oklahoma City | April 19, 1956
Elvis Presley April 20, 1956 | North Side Coliseum, Forth Worth
Elvis Presley, New Singing Find, Booked Into New Frontier | April 21, 1956
Elvis Presley at The New Frontier Hotel | From April 23, 1956
Review | Elvis Presley at The New Frontier | Las Vegas Sun | April 26, 1956
Review | Elvis Presley at The New Frontier | Las Vegas SUN | April 28, 1956
Review | Elvis Presley at The New Frontier | Las Vegas SUN | May 1, 1956
Letter to the editor | Las Vegas SUN | May 12, 1956
Elvis Presley Auditorium in St. Paul, Minnesota | May 13, 1956
Elvis Presley May 14, 1956 | LaCrosse Wisconsin
Elvis Presley May 15, 1956 | Ellis Auditorium
Elvis Presley Detroit, MI. Fox Theater May 25, 1956
Elvis Presley Columbus, Ohio | May 26, 1956
Elvis, Scotty, Bill and DJ performed two shows at the UD Fieldhouse in Dayton | May 27, 1956
Elvis Presley Dayton, Oh., as Elvis left for Memphis | May 28, 1956
Elvis greeting fans at Los Angeles Airport, 1956
Elvis Presley 1956 | March/ June/ July
Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley swap autographs, Memphis | June 1, 1956
Elvis Presley Arriving in Oakland | June 3, 1956
Elvis Presley In Concert | Oakland California | June 3, 1956
The Milton Berle Show Los Angeles | June 5, 1956
Elvis Presley June 7, 1956 | Long Beach Municipal Auditorium
Elvis Presley June 8, 1956
Elvis Presley | Wink Martindale Show | June 16, 1956
Elvis Presley Interview with Wink and Sandy Martindale
Elvis Presley and Red West at Elvis' 1034 Audubon Drive House | June 14, 1956
Vernon, Gladys and Elvis Presley sing at the piano | 1034 Audubon Drive House | June 17, 1956
Elvis Presley and Barbara Hearn | June 19, 1956 | Fairgrounds Amusement Park, Memphis
Elvis Presley and Barbara Hearn at Elvis' 1034 Audubon Drive House | June 19, 1956
Elvis Presley with Susan Hayward | June 28, 1956
Elvis Presley Mosque Theater, Richmond, Va | June 30, 1956
Elvis Presley 1956 | March | June | July
Elvis Presley Hudson Theater | New York City | Steve Allen Show | July 1, 1956
Elvis Presley RCA Studio One, Memphis, Tennessee | July 2, 1956
Elvis Presley On The Train to, Memphis, Tennessee | July 3, 1956
Elvis Presley Russwood Park, Memphis, Tennessee | July 4, 1956
Elvis Presley St. Joseph's Hospital Memphis Tennessee | July 5, 1956
Elvis Presley Ocean Springs, MS. | Thursday, July 12, 1956
Elvis performs with The Statesman Quartet at Ellis Auditorium | July 27, 1956
Elvis Presley Water Skiing | Biloxi July 31, 1956
Elvis Presley Love Me Tender Movie Set Photos
Elvis Presley Olympia Theater, Miami, Florida | August 3, 1956
Elvis Presley August 5, 1956 | Tampa Florida
Elvis Presley Florida Theatre St. Petersburg | August 7, 1956
Elvis Presley Jacksonville, FL. Florida Theater (3 shows per day) | August 10-11, 1956
Elvis Presley August 7, 1956 | Candid Photos
Elvis Presley at the Knickerbocker Hotel, Hollywood | August 18, 1956
Elvis Presley Love Me Tender Recording Sessions | August 24, 1956
Elvis Presley August 31, 1956 | On the set of Love Me Tender
Elvis Presley The Ed Sullivan Show 1956-1957
Elvis Presley September 1-3, 1956 Recording Sessions
Elvis Presley First Appearance | The Ed Sullivan Show | September 9, 1956
Elvis Presley Asleep In Flight | Back To Memphis September 23, 1956
Elvis Presley September 26, 1956 | Tupelo, MS. Mississippi-Alabama Fairgrounds
Elvis Presley wearing the new 'Elvis Presley hat', backstage in Tupelo, September 26, 1956
Elvis Presley at the Mid-South Fair | Memphis September 29, 1956
Elvis Presley October 5, 1956
Elvis Presley Cotton Bowl, Dallas | October 11, 1956
Elvis Presley October 18, 1956
Elvis Presley October 19, 1956 | Assault Charge
Elvis Presley The Ed Sullivan Show Rehearsals | October 26-28, 1956
Elvis Presley The Ed Sullivan Show | Dress Rehearsals | October 28, 1956
Elvis Presley The Ed Sullivan Show | Press Conference | October 28, 1956
Elvis Presley gets his Polio Shot | October 28, 1956
Elvis Presley The Ed Sullivan Show | October 28, 1956
Natalie Wood and Elvis Presley outside the Hotel Chisca | October 31, 1956
What is an Elvis Presley?
The Million Dollar Quartet (December 4, 1956)
Elvis Presley December 11, 1956 | Mobbed by fans in Memphis after running out of gas
Elvis Presley's Last Louisiana Hayride Performance | December 15, 1956
Elvis Presley Touch Football | Dave Wells Community Center | December 27, 1956
The Movies Of 1956
1956, Love Me Tender, Twentieth Century Fox
The Movies In Photos
CDs | DVDs | Books
Buy Elvis Presley CD, DVDs and Books at ...
Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950'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. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.
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. Highly recommended.
Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.