'4 days in 56 : A Moment In Time' chronicles four days in the Spring of 1956 as Elvis barnstorms from Detroit, to Columbus, Ohio, to Dayton, Ohio and finally lands in Memphis where he gets to enjoy his new home on Audubon Drive.
Ernst Jorgensen : 'In the 20 years I have been privileged to work with Elvis Presley CDs and books there have been a number of great discoveries. One, was when I was approached by Michael Rose, who said that he had found a treasure of photos from 1956. I have been bombarded with stories that were simply too good to be true, and in many cases, that's exactly what they were. So with some hesitation I asked Mike to send me some samples, and I was absolutely not prepared for the quantity and quality of these historic images. It was one of these situations where you forget all about financial logic, and just KNOW that this has to be shared with all the fans. Since Mike agreed wholeheartedly, we have spent the last 12 months sorting the material. Mike has been hunting for original stories and clippings, and now we are in the design stage of '4 days in 56 : A Moment In Time', to be released in November'. I hope the fans love the I hope the fans love the images and the story as much as I do. [The book follows Elvis for 4 days in'56 : May 25-28, 1956.]
Promised Land : FTD Classic Album 2 CD
Elvis Sings The Wonderful World Of Christmas : FTD Classic Album 2 CD
A Moment In Time : 4 Days in '56 Hardcover book
The Elvis Is Back Sessions 2-disc 180-gram vinyl set
4 days in 56 : A Moment In Time
Michael Rose : David, thanks for posting the article from the Detroit News about my upcoming book. The article [In the newspaper] really brought out people who were there that night. Now that I've been able to track down some eyewitnesses we'll be able to start putting it together and make it more than just a picture book.
The book is going to focus on that week just before he does the second Milton Berle show. We have found numerous photos, news clippings and ads that cover this time period but would be great to hear from more people who were there and could share their stories and even memorabilia.
I'm glad you teamed up with FTD. How did you get in contact with FTD?
Michael Rose : I'm glad too. Ernst is a wonderful guy. Very supportive and knowledgeable. I'd heard about Ernst while producing a documentary focusing on Elvis' early years -- from birth to his '56 Tupelo Homecoming concert -- Elvis: Return to Tupelo. After discovering the photos [Samples below] I contacted him to see what he thought. He thought they were amazing and suggested I think about a book or two. He helped me focus this first effort on the time from May 25, 1956 when he and the band played at the Fox Theater in Detroit, The May 27 concerts in Dayton to June 2nd when he leaves for California.
The Detroit News reporter is helped me round up people who attended the concerts and she's done a great job, especially finding the surviving winners of an essay contest, 'Why Teenagers Love Elvis'. They won a chance to meet Elvis and attend his early show in Detroit. Unfortunately, we haven't found any of the essays. Those had to have been great.
Michael Rose : The book is titled '4 days in 56 : A Moment In Time' and chronicles four days in the Spring of 1956 as Elvis barnstorms from Detroit, to Columbus, Ohio, to Dayton, Ohio and finally lands in Memphis where he gets to enjoy his new home on Audubon Drive, and the book will be released by FTD in November.
Appreciate the interest. I'm really excited. I'm so grateful to Ernst for his enthusiasm, patience and support but I have to tell you he was a little skeptical about this project when I first approached him.
Ernst is sending me a couple of preliminary jpgs of pages. I'll shoot you a couple and a little more info.
The designer has just shared the first draft of the comps for the first chapter of the book. Your the first person outside of myself, the publisher, Ernst
A Close Up
Gladys and Elvis at Audubon Drive.
Vernon, Elvis and Gladys Presley at Audubon Drive.
Elvis Presley : Detroit, MI. Fox Theater : May 25, 1956
Unseen Elvis: Presley's first visit to Detroit in never-published photos
By Susan Whitall / Detroit News Music Writer.
[Michael Rose : Susan has really work hard digging up people with memories of the concert.]
It's May 1956. Americans were fretting about President Eisenhower's health, slugger Mickey Mantle was the toast of the baseball world, and 21-year-old Elvis Presley was about to make his first appearance at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. It had been a whirlwind five months for the soft-spoken truck driver from Tupelo, Miss., who recorded his first RCA Records session in January, yielding 'Heartbreak Hotel', which shot to No. 1. Elvis was winding up a tour of the Midwest when he came to Detroit on Friday, May 25, 1956.
Fifty-five years later, never-published photographs of the day Elvis first came to Detroit have been brought to light by author Michael Rose for a forthcoming book, 'Spring of '56'.
The photographs show Elvis in and around the Fox Theatre, greeting Detroit Times contest winners backstage, relaxing in a downtown arcade and enjoying himself at an adult party.
Detroit teenagers may have been ecstatic at Elvis' arrival, but newspaper writers barely hid their disdain.
Vera Brown wrote in typically snappy, Detroit Times tabloid style of Elvis: 'He rarely gets a haircut, does a kind of hillbilly derivative. When he winds himself around a mike and gives out, the kids go crazy. Nothing like it since the early Frank Sinatra days. Only way to keep calm about all this is to try to remember how silly you were in your high school days'. Brown met Elvis at the airport, where she demanded to know why he needed four Cadillacs. 'I just like automobiles', he said. His latest one was pink with white leather upholstery. Brown also described his turnout: a black shirt open at the throat, and black pegged pants.
Why, the columnist demanded of the singer, was he so popular?
'If I knew I would tell you', Elvis replied politely. 'I honestly don't know how it took place, but if I can go on from here into the movies, that would be swell.' He told reporters he doesn't drink and has no girlfriend yet. 'I still love my mother who lives in Memphis'. Incredibly, the day before Elvis' three Friday shows (4, 7 and 9:45 p.m.), Bob Bothwell, managing director of the Fox Theatre, said good seats were still available.
As if Elvis wasn't enough entertainment for the $1.50 ticket, there were numerous other acts on the bill: The Jordanaires (his backup singers), Frankie Connors, Jackie Little and Maurice King and the Wolverines (the house band at Detroit's Flame Showbar). At age 14, Carol Bainbridge was one of the 'teeners' who really didn't care what snarky, middle-aged newspaper writers thought of Elvis. Her father, Larry McCann, had interviewed Elvis on his WXYZ-TV talk show, and he scored her two tickets to the 4 p.m. show. Bainbridge and a girlfriend took a bus downtown from Three Mile Drive and Mack, and sat in the front row. 'I touched his shoes and screamed my heart out while he sang in front of me', Bainbridge says.
Elvis had been introduced at that early show by a young Detroiter, Lee Alan Reicheld, who held down the all-night air shift at WJLB. Reicheld, better known by his later disc jockey name, Lee Alan, was told by WJLB's top jock, 'Frantic' Ernie Durham, that he had a gig for him. 'He said, 'You've got to go to the Fox Theatre and introduce Elvis', Alan recalls. The young jock went to the Fox as ordered, and was preparing to open the stage curtains when he heard a soft voice behind him say, 'Hey, what's your name?' Alan turned, and it was Elvis, ever the gentleman. He really wanted to know. 'Lee Reicheld', Alan told him. 'I didn't think he could pronounce it anyway.' But he did, and always remembered Alan's real name after that.
By the time Alan opened the curtains to yell, 'Ladies and gentleman, Elvis Presley', the screaming was already so loud that nobody heard a thing. 'I screamed so much I never heard a word he sang', Bainbridge says. 'I'll never forget how he dressed, the way he held the microphone, moved around on the stage. He stood legs apart to swivel, then crouched down to touch outstretched hands. He was different, original and, damn, he was cool. The girls today would say 'hot', and he was'.
Reviews of Elvis' show are inadvertently hilarious. The Detroit Times reviewer complained that Elvis did 'unknown' songs like 'I've Got a Woman' and 'Long Lost Sally' (meaning, 'Long Tall Sally'.) The Detroit News reviewer recognized 'Long Tall Sally', but deployed several zingers, describing Elvis as an ex-trucker with a shimmy, and sniffing: 'The guitar seldom got twanged, because Elvis was too busy flexing his knees and swinging his thighs like a soubrette in the palmy days of burlesque'.
Meanwhile, backstage at the Fox, another Detroit radio personality was making his way to Elvis' dressing room to meet the legend. Robin Seymour had been embroiled in controversy since he'd dismissed Elvis on his WKMH radio show as a fly-by-night phenomenon that wouldn't last. 'There were 100 kids on bikes in front of my house with signs', Seymour recalls, laughing. 'Get rid of Robin Seymour, he's a jerk! 'It was a gimmick, Seymour insists; he didn't really dislike Elvis. But Seymour didn't introduce the singer at the later shows - that honor was reserved for Mickey Schorr. Seymour did want to meet him, though, and Fox manager Bothwell got him backstage. There Seymour was to discover that, despite the wholesome reports in the press about not drinking and such, Elvis was having big fun. When the dressing room door opened, the disc jockey was startled to see several naked girls. 'He was sitting on the couch wearing a silk robe; there were about five girls trotting around', Seymour says. Showgirls from the nearby Stone Burlesk? He hasn't a clue.
'I didn't stay that long', Seymour says with a laugh.