Elvis Express Radio News
ELVIS, MONTHS BEFORE HE BECAME ‘THE KING’
November 22, 2015  -  SWOK / Elvis Express Radio
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The McMahon Memorial Auditorium is a staple for entertainment in the Lawton community  and has been for almost 60 years. Those who call Lawton home can remember attending
shows of famous singers, musicians, off-Broadway shows, and of course, performances by multiple community talents.

During the 1960s and '70s, Lawton had famous headliners at the auditorium  a so called "heyday." Lawton's touring chapter of the national Community Concerts Inc. would bring in
the big acts and sell the tickets. The Lawton Philharmonic Orchestra would also bring in distinguished musicians to play  a tradition carried on to this day.

Some acclaimed names that graced Lawton's home stage include Elvis Presley, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Doc Severinsen, Judy Collins, Count Basie, Glen Campbell, Tony
Bennett, John Fullbright, John Raitt and many, many more. Photos of famous faces, along with their signatures, grace one wall behind the stage  reminders of the auditorium's rich
history.

Dave Sandstrom can remember some great times he had seeing various performances at the auditorium. He served on the McMahon Memorial Auditorium Authority on and off from
1969 to 2012. He saw off-Broadway shows and various musicians at the auditorium  some of his fondest memories.

"Under the (Cameron) jazz fest, we had Count Basie," Sandstrom said. "Two shows  never had two-show events that I knew of at that time. And that was exciting. We had a reception
in between the two shows in the Museum of the Great Plains, I remember that. That was a great night. I love jazz, good jazz."

Other Lawtonians, Jay Davis and Allen Johnson, recall seeing Presley perform at the auditorium on June 19, 1955,  just months before the King of Rock and Roll became The King.
It was the summer after Davis graduated from Lawton High School and Johnson had finished his freshman year at the University of Oklahoma. The best friends attended the concert
with a group of 12 friends and, Johnson said, "We didn't know who we were seeing."

The group sat five rows back from the stage and saw multiple country singers. Davis and Johnson said Presley was the last one to perform. Davis remembered there couldn't have
been more than 100 to 150 people in the 1,500-seat auditorium watching the soon-to-be rock star.

"I remember he walked out on stage dragging his guitar," Johnson said.

"He didn't do much dancing though," Davis replied. "Not like he did later on."

Johnson, Davis, their dates and the rest of the group attended an after party at the Southern Club  an old country and western dance hall in Lawton on Lee Boulevard. The group
was able to snag a photo with Presley and his musicians. Johnson and Davis remembered Presley being more fascinated by their attending college than they were with him being an
almost-famous musician.