Nation's Only Atomic Powered Singer
Jacksonville, FL. August 1956 & April 1972
By Ron Wolfe
came to Jacksonville, Florida on the 10th and 11th of August, 1956, billed as
the nation's only "Atomic Powered Singer. 11 Elvis gave three shows (3:30-7:00-9:00) on both Friday and Saturday, the 10th and llth. Tickets were $1. 25
in advance and $1. 50 at the door.
fans were screaming and hollering for blocks, waiting in line to get their
tickets. Elvis was a complete sellout... 2,200 seats for each show. For all six
shows, a total of 13, 200 fans got to see the hottest act ever to play
Tutti Frutti productions © Jacksonville,FL. Aug. 10th 1956 3:30 pm show
headlines read: "The biggest national craze since Davy Crockett hits
Jacksonville today in the person of Elvis Presley, and we are liable to feel the
impact. 11 Elvis was the focal point of mob scenes wherever he appeared. The
Elvis craze was complicated by the fact that it was tied up with a simultaneous
national crisis over "rock In' roll. " Although Elvis was certainly
involved with rock music, he is unique... a point on which his friends and foes
agree. At this point in time, Elvis was considerably more of a national issue
than Richard Nixon. As one writer stated, "If we keep our heads, this
latest product of a ' revolt of the masses ' will assume his proper proportions
in the perspective of time. What that perspective will reveal need not be
debated right now. What seemed more important was trying not to be trampled in
the rush as Elvis moves around town. If you heard a loud screaming that day,
head for the high grounds and do it fast.
Elvis could even take to the Jacksonville stage, troubles were waiting for him.
Al Fast, represenative for the American Guild Variety Artists, gave Elvis an
ultimatum: Either join the Guild or we will prevent your band from performing
with you. At the time Elvis was a member of the musician's union and it was his
controversial body movements and dance steps that put him under the variety
artists jurisdiction. Elvis had been approached before by Al Fast and had
refused membership into the organization. Membership fees were $300.00. All of
his acts (Elvis was traveling with his band and other performers) belonged to
the American Guild of Variety Artists and if Elvis did not cooperate, Mr. Fast was instructed to pull the other members out of his show.
Tutti Frutti productions © Elvis meeting Judge Gooding
more trouble confronted Elvis before it was time to start the show. Judge
Gooding, apparently disturbed by newspaper reports from other areas stating that
the "hip-swinger's performance amounted to an obscene burlesque dance,
" warned the theatre officials of his intentions and that he planned to be
on hand for Elvis' first show that afternoon. Judge Gooding invited Elvis to his
chambers for a pre-show session to "put him straight. Elvis refused his
invitation. Gooding told the theatre officials, "If Presley is going to
come to town and attempt this sort of thing, it will not be allowed. I'm going
to be present, and if there is a vulgar performance put on, I'm going to issue a
warrant for his arrest. " The judge said he doesn't want to make a martyr
out of Presley... but on the other hand, we don't want to stand by and see
obscenity and vulgarity in front of our children.
asked Mr. Gooding about the incident and he had this to say: "That was my
belief that the vast majority of the Jacksonville youngsters didn't believe in
Mr. Presley's type of performance he was alleged to have put on elsewhere.
Tutti Frutti productions © Jacksonville,FL. Aug. 10th 1956 7:00 pm show
Elvis, standing very still, performed his 3:30 show in front of the judge and 2,200 screaming fans. The teen-age rock In' roll idol was advised before the show
to "keep it clean" or face court charges, met with Judge Gooding after
the opening performance and was warned sternly to remove the objectionable hip
movements from the act. Elvis complied with the order.
searched a little deeper and found out that the American Guild of Variety
Artists had told Elvis unless he joined AGVA, and his manager (Colonel Parker)
posted bond and insurance for the other acts in Elvis' show, AGVA would prevent
the other acts from appearing. The matter was cleared up shortly before show
time when Elvis accepted membership in the organization and Col. Parker took
care of the bond and insurance obligations with AGVA.
1972, Elvis and his show returned to Jacksonville for two super shows in the
Veteran's Memorial Coliseum. Both shows were sold out and the 10, 000 plus fans
who attended left with memories that would last a long time. As for Judge
Gooding.... yep, he was there... but not with a warrant for his arrest, but (this
time) to bring his grandchildren. Mr. Gooding said that "Mr. Presley's a
true showman. His voice has matured and his body movements are quite tame,
compared to 1956.
Roland Lachance © Jacksonville,FL. April 16th 1972 matinee show
Elvis is returning on the 25th of April. The line for tickets was over four
blocks long, with some fans waiting since 5:00 in the morning. Even though Elvis
is now 40, his drawing power is still there. All 10,532 seats for the
performance were s old out.
Originally published in the magazine Strictly Elvis No. 84