Cover image for Elvis day by day
Elvis day by day
Guralnick, Peter.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Ballantine Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
391 pages ; 29 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library ML420.P73 G86 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize
Central Library ML420.P73 G86 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize
Central Library ML420.P73 G86 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ

On Order



From details of his childhood in Tupelo, through his rise to success, to his death, a chronology of Elvis Presley's life and career draws on an array of archival material, photographs, documents, letters, artifacts, and memorabilia.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

It seems as though a day doesn't go by without an Elvis sighting of some kind. The King lives on--on TV, radio, and the New York Times' best-seller list as well as embodied by innumerable impersonators, some of whose careers have lasted longer than Elvis' did. Guralnick and Jorgensen have devoted major portions of their lives to documenting Elvis. Guralnick just completed a noteworthy biography in two volumes, Last Train to Memphis (1994) and Careless Love [BKL N 1 98], and Jorgensen has concentrated on Elvis' recording career (see Elvis Presley: A Life in Music, 1998). Thus, both have had access to truckloads of material, much of it previously unexamined, which enabled them to compile a detailed Presley biochronology that begins on April 25, 1912, with the birth of Gladys Love Smith, Elvis' mother, and ends on October 3, 1977, with the airing of a CBS special recorded two months before Elvis' August 16, 1977, death. Anything that could be verified by documents is recorded, including school report cards (Elvis got an F in typing in tenth grade), purchase receipts (on February 1, 1966, Elvis, his motor home, and a caravan of cars stopped in Clines Corners, New Mexico, to fill up with 75.8 gallons of fuel), and his movie and touring profits (after his seventh tour of 1976, he split $1,005,000.09 with Colonel Tom Parker, his manager). Copies of contracts, income tax forms, posters, and programs, as well as more than 300 photographs, ease eyes wearied by the three-column text display. Essential for thoroughgoing Elvis collections. --Benjamin Segedin



1955 January 01 Saturday Grand Prize Saturday Night Jamboree, Eagles Hall, Houston, Texas On a bill that includes both seventeen--year--old Tommy Sands, who began his recording career four years earlier under the guidance of Colonel Parker and Tom Diskin, and George Jones, among others, the show is hosted for radio broadcast by Biff Collie. Elvis' new managerial contract with Bob Neal goes into effect on this date, with a smiling picture of Elvis, Neal, and Sam Phillips that commemorates the occasion appearing in various periodicals and fan magazines over the next couple of months. 02 Sunday A note in Billboard indicates that Elvis may have remained and performed in the Houston area through Tuesday, January 4. 05 Wednesday City Auditorium, San Angelo, Texas "Alvis Presley" tops the bill at a show in this 1,855--seat auditorium, where hundreds of teenaged girls rush the stage for autographs. Hayride artists Billy Walker and Jimmy and Johnny and country comic Peach Seed Jones complete the lineup. 06 Thursday Fair Park, Lubbock, Texas This may be the date of a much--remembered show by Elvis, Billy Walker, and Jimmy and Johnny, at which future country star (and sometime bass player with Buddy Holly) Waylon Jennings recalls having met the young "hillbilly cat." In Jennings' recollection, Elvis declared that his next record would be "Tweedlee Dee," by rhythm--and--blues star LaVern Baker, which is just picking up steam, hitting the rhythm--and--blues charts on January 15, 1955. On this same date, or else upon his return to Lubbock on February 13, Elvis records his version of two r & b hits, "Fool, Fool, Fool" by the Clovers, and "Shake, Rattle and Roll" by Big Joe Turner, at local radio station KDAV, as a promotion for the evening's show. 07 Friday High School Auditorium, Midland, Texas Elvis appears with other top Louisiana Hayride stars before a crowd of more than 1,600. 08 Saturday Louisiana Hayride, Municipal Auditorium, Shreveport Elvis is introduced as the "Memphis Flash" and described to the radio audience by announcer Frank Page as wearing crocodile--skin shoes with pink socks. He performs "That's All Right," "Hearts of Stone," "Blue Moon of Kentucky," and "Fool, Fool, Fool." The bill includes rising country star Johnny Horton, known as "The Singing Fisherman," who will have a huge pop hit four years later with "The Battle of New Orleans." 11 Tuesday High School Gym, New Boston, Texas This is the most likely date for a show that Elvis definitely played. From this appearance till the end of the month, Elvis' band is augmented by piano player Leon Post and steel guitarist Sonny Trammell, members of the Hayride's staff band. The show is hosted by Texarkana, Arkansas, DJ Uncle Dudley (Ernest Hackworth), and it is most likely Hackworth's report of the crowd's reaction to the young "hillbilly cat" that prompts Colonel Tom Parker and Tom Diskin's first interest in Elvis. 12 Wednesday City Auditorium, Clarksdale, Mississippi This marks the known beginning of two weeks of touring with Jim Ed and Maxine Brown. Bob Neal has booked the tour and appears as MC at all the shows. The Browns are a highly polished brother--and--sister country act and in many locations attract a majority of the crowd. 13 Thursday Catholic Club, Helena, Arkansas In a strange coincidence of timing, Tom Diskin's Chicago office replies to Scotty Moore's December 13 letter soliciting Chicago dates. There are "few outlets for hillbilly entertainers" in the Chicago area, Scotty is informed in a stock letter of rejection, which has obviously been composed without any knowledge of the New Boston show. 14 Friday Futrell High School Gym, Marianna, Arkansas Although no advertisements for this engagement have been found, there is persuasive evidence that Elvis did play here on a Friday in early 1955, the day after playing Helena. 15 Saturday Louisiana Hayride, Municipal Auditorium, Shreveport Elvis sports a rust--colored suit, black--dotted purple tie, and pink socks and performs "Hearts of Stone," "That's All Right," and "Tweedlee Dee." Colonel Tom Parker and Tom Diskin arrive in Shreveport and register at the Captain Shreve Hotel. This is almost certainly the first time either of them has seen Elvis Presley perform, and the Colonel takes steps to forge a link with Bob Neal after the show. 17 Monday Junior College Auditorium, Booneville, Mississippi (sponsored by the Kiwanis Club) The Booneville Banner carries a front--page story declaring that "the fastest rising country music star in the nation will be performing in his own top--notch manner." Elvis visits local radio station WBIP for an interview with DJ Lynn McDowell to support airplay of his records. Bob Neal writes to Ed McLemore of the Big "D" Jamboree to let him know that Colonel Parker will be doing bookings for him and Elvis, "just like MCA or William Morris or any other agency." According to Neal, Parker is attempting to get a booking at "one of the big resort hotels in Nevada" and is "negotiating a deal that is terrific, to say the least." 18 Tuesday Alcorn County Courthouse, Corinth, Mississippi (sponsored by the Jaycees) 19 Wednesday Community Center, Sheffield, Alabama (sponsored by the Jaycees) The local paper reports that Elvis' appearance on this Louisiana Hayride package show is one of the most successful dates ever at the center. 20 Thursday Leachville High School Gym, Leachville, Arkansas (sponsored by the senior class) 21 Friday National Guard Armory, Sikeston, Missouri 22 Saturday Louisiana Hayride, Municipal Auditorium, Shreveport Elvis performs "Money Honey," "I Don't Care If the Sun Don't Shine," "Blue Moon of Kentucky," and "That's All Right." Colonel Parker informs Bob Neal by letter that he has booked Elvis on the Hank Snow Tour from February 14 to 18, sending both a contract and a check made out to Elvis Presley for $425, a 50 percent advance on what he can expect to earn for the tour. 24 Monday Humble Oil Company Camp, Hawkins, Texas This week's shows, and others in the oil fields area of east Texas, are presented by Gladewater disc jockey Tom Perryman. 25 Tuesday Mayfair Building, Tyler, Texas 26 Wednesday REA (Rural Electric Administration) Building, Gilmer, Texas 27 Thursday Reo Palm Isle Club, Longview, Texas At this time the Colonel and Tom Diskin begin spreading Elvis' name throughout their world of show--business acquaintances. Diskin writes to a booking agent in Chicago looking for a TV spot for a "new boy" who he believes will be one of the "biggest things in the business." He goes on to explain that Elvis gets the girls as excited as Frank Sinatra used to, as well as being "as good looking as all heck." 28 Friday High School, Gaston, Texas 29 Saturday Louisiana Hayride, Shreveport By Scotty Moore's meticulous accounting, Elvis, Scotty, and Bill have grossed $2,083.63 from their last month of touring. Half goes to Elvis, 25 percent each to Scotty and Bill, after expenses have been paid. February 01 Tuesday High School, Randolph, Mississippi Elvis begins a week of Bob Neal bookings, appearing with local singer Bud Deckelman of "Daydreamin'" fame. 02 Wednesday High School, Augusta, Arkansas (sponsored by the senior class) The newspaper ad for the show pictures Elvis, Scotty, and Bill ("The Blue Moon Boys") still dressed in their western shirts. This photograph will continue to be used for some months in newspapers throughout the South, though Scotty and Bill have by now stopped wearing the cowboy--styled outfits that are a carryover from their Starlite Wrangler days. 03 Thursday Most likely, Elvis, Scotty, and Bill take time to work on new songs in the studio during this week. On February 5 a posed photograph appears in the Memphis Press--Scimitar showing the three of them at Sun, with Sam Phillips at the console. During this time they record "Baby Let's Play House," which will be the A--side of their next single, along with still--unreleased (and undiscovered as of 1999) versions of Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman" and "Trying to Get to You." After the session Stan Kesler, a steel guitarist who works primarily on Sun's hillbilly sides, goes home and writes what will become the B--side, "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone," based on the melody of the Campbell's Soup commercial. During this week the trio also appear at school programs at Messick High School and Messick Junior High to help Sonny Neal, Bob's son, in his campaign for the student council. 04 Friday Jesuit High School, New Orleans, Louisiana Elvis appears with Ann Raye, daughter of Biloxi promoter Yankie Barhanovich. He is late for an appearance at radio station WWEZ to promote the show. 05 Saturday Louisiana Hayride, Municipal Auditorium, Shreveport Wearing pink pants and tie with a charcoal jacket, Elvis performs "That's All Right," "Blue Moon of Kentucky," "Tweedlee Dee," and "Money Honey." A four--column story in the Memphis Press--Scimitar announces, "Through the Patience of Sam Phillips Suddenly Singing Elvis Presley Zooms into Recording Stardom," noting that "a white man's voice singing Negro rhythms with a rural flavor [has] changed life overnight for Elvis Presley." Colonel Parker sends Elvis a second check for $550 as a deposit for additional dates on the upcoming Hank Snow tour. 06 Sunday Ellis Auditorium, Memphis, at 3:00 and 8:00 p.m. For all of his local eminence, Elvis is listed down on the bill, below such established stars as Hayride graduate Faron Young, Ferlin Huskey, and "Beautiful Gospel Singer" Martha Carson, whose signature tune, "Satisfied," is one of Elvis' favorites. Between shows Bob Neal arranges a meeting between Sun Records president Sam Phillips and Colonel Tom Parker and Tom Diskin at Palumbo's Restaurant across the street from the auditorium. The ostensible purpose of the meeting is to discuss the future of the young performer in whom they are all so interested. Neal is very much encouraged by the Colonel's enthusiasm, but the meeting does not go well, as Parker explains to Sam Phillips that Elvis is going nowhere on a small--time label like Sun and that he has already made overtures to RCA to buy the contract. Phillips does not react well to this piece of information, and Parker silently revises his plan without ever retreating. 07 Monday Ripley High School Gym, Ripley, Mississippi (sponsored by the senior class) 10 Thursday High School, Alpine, Texas (to benefit the Future Farmers of America) Harry Kalcheim, an agent with the powerful William Morris Talent Agency office in New York, writes to Colonel Parker that he has mislaid the picture of Presley that Parker has sent him but agrees that he sounds promising with "a very special type of voice." 11 Friday Sports Arena, Carlsbad, New Mexico, at 4:00 p.m. Hobbs, New Mexico, in the evening 12 Saturday Legion Hut, Carlsbad, New Mexico Cash Box reports that Bob Neal, Elvis' new manager, has opened a booking office at 160 Union Avenue in Memphis. 13 Sunday Fair Park Coliseum, Lubbock, Texas, at 4:00 p.m. "Elvis Presley, The Be--Bop Western Star of the Louisiana Hayride, returns to Lubbock" reads the advertisement, with "Big 'D' [Dallas] Jamboree" regular Charlene Arthur and Jimmie Rodgers Snow, Hank Snow's nineteen--year--old son and an RCA recording artist in his own right. This is the first booking that Neal has obtained directly through Colonel Parker, and the group receives $350 for their matinee performance. A young Buddy Holly appears at the bottom of this bill as half of the country--and--western duo Buddy and Bob. 14 Monday Tom Parker has instructed Elvis to meet Tom Diskin at Roswell, New Mexico's, "leading hotel" no later than 3:00 p.m. in order to do radio promotion and get the schedule for his first appearance this evening on the already--in--progess Hank Snow Jamboree tour. North Junior High School Auditorium, Roswell, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. (sponsored by the Fire Department) 15 Tuesday Fairpark Auditorium, Abilene, Texas, at 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. Elvis "and his Bop Band" are advertised below headliner Hank Snow and popular hillbilly comedian the Duke of Paducah, with Charlene Arthur and Jimmie Rodgers Snow completing the lineup. On February 10, Colonel Parker has had Tom Diskin inform Steve Sholes, RCA's head of A & R in the company's country--and--western division (A & R stands for "artists and repertoire" and encompasses everything to do with recording, from renting the studio to finding the songs to producing the session) that Elvis Presley "is pretty securely tied up" at Sun while simultaneously trying to convince Sholes to sign Tommy Sands instead. Sholes replies on this date that "the last I heard from the Colonel seemed quite favorable toward our signing Elvis Presley so naturally your comments with respect to Presley were a little surprising." His letter does not indicate that he feels Tommy Sands is a suitable replacement. 16 Wednesday Odessa Senior High School Field House, Odessa, Texas, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. (sponsored by the Voting Home Owners Club) The shows in Odessa attract more than 4,000 people, including local singer Roy Orbison, who later comments, "His energy was incredible, his instinct was just amazing." It is swiftly becoming apparent that any other act has trouble following him. 17 Thursday City Auditorium, San Angelo, Texas, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. 18 Friday West Monroe High School Auditorium, Monroe, Louisiana, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. The end of the Hank Snow tour. 19 Saturday Louisiana Hayride, Municipal Auditorium, Shreveport 20 Sunday Robinson Auditorium, Little Rock, Arkansas, at 3:00 and 8:15 p.m. Elvis begins another Jamboree Attractions tour, this one billed as a "WSM Grand Ole Opry" show and headlined as an Extra Added Attraction by the Duke of Paducah and country music legends Mother Maybelle (Carter) and her daughters, the Carter Sisters. As a specially advertised feature attraction, however, with billing throughout the tour as big as the Duke of Paducah's (the tickets for Little Rock actually advertise "The Elvis Presley Show"), Elvis, Scotty, and Bill receive $350 for these two shows instead of their usual $200 per day. 21 Monday City Auditorium, Camden, Arkansas 22 Tuesday City Hall, Hope, Arkansas 23 Wednesday High School Auditorium, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Seeking bookings for Elvis all over the country, the Colonel contacts A. V. "Bam" Bamford, an influential promoter who first gained prominence in Nashville by booking Hank Williams in the early fifties, now located in California. Parker informs Bamford that Elvis is "a great artist but will need lots of buildup before he's a good investment." 24 Thursday South Side Elementary School, Bastrop, Louisiana, at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. The last show of this second Jamboree Attractions tour. This package has proven far less of a draw than the Hank Snow show, and Jamboree Attractions loses money on the tour. 25 Friday Elvis, Scotty, and Bill drive to Cleveland with Bob Neal to play their first date outside the South. They make stops at various radio stations along the way, in hopes of getting subsequent airplay. Colonel Parker writes to Harry Kalcheim at the William Morris Agency office in New York, once again soliciting Kalcheim's opinion of "this ELVIS PRESLEY BOY" at the end of his letter. The Colonel adds his own opinion that Elvis can succeed if he is "exploited properly." It should be noted here that, as a master promoter, the Colonel saw proper "exploitation" as his calling card, with no element of opprobrium attached. 26 Saturday Hillbilly Jamboree, Circle Theater, Cleveland, Ohio, at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Hosted by WERE disc jockey Tommy Edwards, the weekly show attracts country music fans living in the city, including a number who have first been exposed to Elvis' records through Edwards' broadcasts (Sun distribution does not effectively reach as far as Cleveland). After the show, Elvis meets top WERE jock Bill Randle, who has just returned from his nationally syndicated Saturday--afternoon CBS show in New York. Randle suggests to Bob Neal that he has "a big artist on his way" and gives Neal the name of a contact for Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, which Randle thinks would be the perfect vehicle for national exposure. When the group totals up its income at the end of February, earnings have doubled to over $4,000. Bookings will peak the following month, bringing in over $5,000, then return to approximately $1,000 a week through September. Out of this sum, the band pays for its own expenses (gas and automobile maintenance, hotel bills, booking and promotion commissions) before making the agreed-upon 50-25-25 split. Excerpted from Elvis Day-by-Day: The Definitive Record of His Life and Work by Peter Guralnick, Ernst Jorgensen All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Google Preview