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Mystery Revealed --> King of the Houston Rodeo!

Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:26 am

Here is a cool look at how Elvis' spectacular Houston appearances in early 1970 came to be.

The photos are new to my eyes.


King of the Houston Rodeo
By Joe Leydon, Cowboys & Indians Magazine, April 2010

One way or another, with one title or another, Louis M. Pearce Jr. has been involved with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo ever since he bought his first bull in 1938, back when the event was still known as the Houston Fat Stock Show and Livestock Exposition. He is unabashedly proud of the millions the Houston Rodeo has raised in scholarship funds for participating Texas youths. (“A lot of these boys and girls,” he says, “probably would have never made it to college without the rodeo’s help.”) And he’s pleased to admit that, along the way, he’s met a respectable number of celebrities while helping attract entertainers for the rodeo’s concert series. But there’s no question about who made the biggest impression: Elvis Presley.

Concerts by star performers have been a Houston Rodeo tradition ever since Gene Autry entertained the crowds in 1942. But in 1966, when Stuart Lang was president of the show, “We moved from the old Sam Houston Coliseum, where there were eight or nine thousand seats, to the Houston Astrodome, where there were about 40,000 seats,” Pearce says. “After the first three years in the dome, it became obvious that if we wanted to stay in business — if we wanted to fill up all those empty seats — we had to do something to change our entertainment package.”



700301_Lou Pearce.JPG
Louis Pearce helped move the Houston Fat Stock Show to the Astrodome and famously booked Elvis for a three-night engagement back in 1970.
Photo courtesy Louis Pearce



Fortunately, executive committee member Bill Williams happened to be a childhood friend of Col. Tom Parker, Elvis’ legendarily control-freakish manager. Not so fortunately, Col. Parker proved to be every bit as tough a negotiator as his legend suggested. Along with Houston Rodeo general manager Dick Weekley and president Buddy Bray, Pearce, then rodeo chairman, flew to Las Vegas, where Elvis was preparing for a sold-out engagement at the International Hotel, to strike a deal with Col. Parker.

“We started talking,” Pearce recalls, “and I said, ‘Colonel, this show is not something that I make money out of, or Buddy makes money out of, or Dick Weekley makes money out of. We’re all volunteers — everybody out there is a volunteer — and the money we make goes to educating young people, to give them an opportunity to go to college.’

“And I’ll never forget what he said: ‘Well, so we can get this thing off on the right foot: I won’t give anybody a stick of gum. Now y’all start talking.’”



700301_w Pearce at press conference.JPG
Pearce and the Stock Show committee presented Elvis Presley with a sold gold Rolex as a thank-you gift.


Elvis himself proved to be more amiable during the negotiations. “He had beautiful manners,” Pearce recalls. “Everything from him was ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘No, sir.’ I remember there were two things he told me. The first thing was, ‘Who’s your tailor?’ And I told him. And then he asked, ‘Let me look at that watch you have, please.’ And so I handed it to him. And he said, ‘That is the most beautiful watch I’ve ever seen in my life.’”

The singularly impressive timepiece was a solid gold Rolex King Midas, a very special gift to Pearce from fellow Houston Rodeo board members. As a token of appreciation, the Houston Rodeo gave Elvis a similar limited edition King Midas after his sold-out concert series. The watch remains on display to this day at Graceland.



700301_Rolex King Midas watch for Elvis.JPG
Rolex made 1000 Original King Midas watches and Elvis owned and wore number 343, which was engraved to read "To Elvis Presley From The Houston Livestock Show Officers 1970."


Pearce and his fellow negotiators eventually agreed to pay the then-exorbitant sum of $70,000 for the King of Rock ’n’ Roll to perform multiple concerts during the 1970 rodeo — for record-setting crowds. But rest assured: A hunka-hunka lot of scholarships were financed by ticket sales.

http://www.cowboysindians.com/Cowboys-Indians/April-2010/King-of-the-Houston-Rodeo/


Maybe someday we'll hear a high-quality recording of one of these six Houston shows from 1970 -- perhaps the greatest Elvis ever did in his comeback period.
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Re: Mystery Revealed --> King of the Houston Rodeo!

Fri Jul 06, 2012 8:41 am

Nice post, John, thanks.

Who the hell is Bill Williams, childhood friend of Tom Parker??

Re: Mystery Revealed --> King of the Houston Rodeo!

Fri Jul 06, 2012 9:02 am

Thanks John,interesting topic indeed

Re: Mystery Revealed --> King of the Houston Rodeo!

Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:27 am

Yeah, good Google- work.

Re: Mystery Revealed --> King of the Houston Rodeo!

Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:30 am

Nice post John.

drjohncarpenter wrote:Maybe someday we'll hear a high-quality recording of one of these six Houston shows from 1970 -- perhaps the greatest Elvis ever did in his comeback period.


I find the whole Houston thing quite bizarre, from the old guys from Texas with big hats on to Elvis being presented going around the track on a jeep to the fact we never have had an official release of any of the shows which were presented to a huge audience. Even if it was felt it should have been recorded after the fact they chose again to not capitalize on it again 4 years later. As I said, it’s all quite bizarre.

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Re: Mystery Revealed --> King of the Houston Rodeo!

Fri Jul 06, 2012 11:08 am

George Smith wrote:Nice post, John, thanks.

Who the hell is Bill Williams, childhood friend of Tom Parker??

Not sure how far back they went, but they had to have been buddies.

Bill Williams ("the Chicken King") famously owned a Houston restaurant at 6515 South Main for years, along with a couple of others in the area. Elvis and June Juanico had breakfast at the South Main location on June 13, 1956.


Bill Williams menu cover.JPG
Bill Williams menu inside.JPG



A typewritten letter that October had Elvis endorsing the restaurants:

HELLO FRIENDS . . . THIS IS ELVIS PRESLEY ADDING MY CONGRATULATIONS TO THE THOUSANDS OF CUSTOMERS OF MY FRIEND BILL WILLIAMS' MANY FINE RESTAURANTS . . . UPON THE OPENING OF HIS LATEST AND NEWEST IN HIS FABULOUS CHAIN . . . AND THE NEXT TIME YOU'RE EATING FRIED CHICKEN IN ANY BILL WILLIAMS RESTAURANT LOOK CLOSELY AT EVERYBODY EATING THAT DELICIOUS CHICKEN BECAUSE . . . IT MIGHT BE ME . . .


Here's a mention of both of them, albeit independently, in a 1954 Billboard column:


Billboard Feb 13 1954 p57.jpg
Billboard - February 13 1954
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Re: Mystery Revealed --> King of the Houston Rodeo!

Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:22 pm

More

http://rolexblog.blogspot.nl/2008/07/st ... -king.html

Re: Mystery Revealed --> King of the Houston Rodeo!

Fri Jul 06, 2012 3:28 pm

Thanks Doc!

Re: Mystery Revealed --> King of the Houston Rodeo!

Fri Jul 06, 2012 4:17 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
George Smith wrote:Nice post, John, thanks.

Who the hell is Bill Williams, childhood friend of Tom Parker??

Not sure how far back they went, but they had to have been buddies.

Bill Williams ("the Chicken King") famously owned a Houston restaurant at 6515 South Main for years, along with a couple of others in the area. Elvis and June Juanico had breakfast at the South Main location on June 13, 1956.

Here's a mention of both of them, albeit independently, in a 1954 Billboard column:

Billboard Feb 13 1954 p57.jpg
Billboard - February 13 1954


Thanks for going the extra mile, John.

If Tommy Sands is mentioned at this time you can bet your boots that Parker was involved in some way.

Re: Mystery Revealed --> King of the Houston Rodeo!

Fri Jul 06, 2012 11:23 pm

George Smith wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:
George Smith wrote:Nice post, John, thanks.

Who the hell is Bill Williams, childhood friend of Tom Parker??

Not sure how far back they went, but they had to have been buddies.

Bill Williams ("the Chicken King") famously owned a Houston restaurant at 6515 South Main for years, along with a couple of others in the area. Elvis and June Juanico had breakfast at the South Main location on June 13, 1956.

Here's a mention of both of them, albeit independently, in a 1954 Billboard column:

Billboard Feb 13 1954 p57.jpg
Billboard - February 13 1954


Thanks for going the extra mile, John.

If Tommy Sands is mentioned at this time you can bet your boots that Parker was involved in some way.

You are correct on that one. Thanks for the kind words.

Gotta love that Rolex!

Re: Mystery Revealed --> King of the Houston Rodeo!

Fri Jul 06, 2012 11:42 pm

Thanks Doc. Elvis' take on the cowboy attire was cooler than cool 40 years ago when i saw it as a young teen. To this day it remains so for me.

Re: Mystery Revealed --> King of the Houston Rodeo!

Sun May 26, 2013 2:02 am

A few more shots from Houston on Sunday, March 1, 1970:


700301_w Rolex_Houston press conference.JPG



700301_w Pearce at press conference_02.JPG
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Re: Mystery Revealed --> King of the Houston Rodeo!

Mon May 27, 2013 9:26 pm

Thank so much as always, DOC! Great material once again. That was a magical time in Elvis' career.

rlj ::rocks

Re: Mystery Revealed --> King of the Houston Rodeo!

Mon May 27, 2013 9:58 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:A few more shots from Houston on Sunday, March 1, 1970:


700301_w Rolex_Houston press conference.JPG



700301_w Pearce at press conference_02.JPG


Great follow-up Doc. Thanks again!