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|ELVIS & THE BEATLES: WE LOVED THEM, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH,
Elvis visited several times pre-'King' status, while the Beatles came for one sellout day
August 07, 2016 - By Ken Hoffman for the Chron / Elvis Express Radio
|There's no arguing: The top two icons of rock 'n' roll are Elvis Presley and the Beatles.
Or the Beatles and Elvis Presley, depending on which act rocked your world. Both revolutionized music and society. Everything would be different after they took the stage.
Their first concerts in Houston certainly were different, too. One was pretty much a regional act, playing before 50 people some nights. The other was already a worldwide
Elvis Presley was 19 years old, slinging a new $175 Martin guitar, when he performed his first time in Houston - Thanksgiving night, Nov. 25, 1954 - at The Paladium, a honky-tonk
club at South Main at Old Spanish Trail.
Elvis was starting to make some noise, playing clubs and halls in the South. He was living in Memphis and signed to a small local label, Sun Records. He recorded his first single in
July 1954 - "That's All Right" with "Blue Moon of Kentucky" on the flip side. He wasn't a full-on rocker yet. Elvis sang mostly gospel, country and rhythm and blues - with a voice that
sounded "black," a shocker for the day.
He wasn't exactly a superstar, either. The ad for his first appearance at the Paladium didn't even spell his name correctly: "Elvis Pressley."
Elvis and two Memphis backup musicians played the night before Thanksgiving at the Municipal Auditorium in Texarkana, Ark. They piled in a car and drove to Houston.
There are differing accounts as to Elvis' set list at the Paladium, but most agree that he sang "That's All Right," "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and a straight-up gospel "Amazing Grace."
After the show, Elvis went to Stuart's Drive-In restaurant on Old Spanish Trail for a late snack.
The show went down well with the Paladium crowd. So much that Elvis was held over "by popular demand" for two more nights. The day after his first show in Houston, Elvis sent a
telegram to his father Vernon, living at 462 Alabama St. in Memphis:
"Hi babies here's the money to pay the bills. Don't tell no one how much I sent I will send more next week. There is a card in the mail. Love Elvis."
Elvis toured the South relentlessly in the mid-'50s, returning to Houston many times to play clubs like Cook's Hoedown, Eagles' Hall, Magnolia Gardens and City Auditorium. On
several occasions, he performed at Magnolia Gardens in the afternoon and at Cook's Hoedown at night. During Christmas season, 1954, he played a "Yule Tide Jamboree and
Dance," presented by the Galena Park Fire Department, at Cook's Hoedown. Tickets were $1.25 –"tax included."
In 1955, an ad for Elvis' show at Magnolia Gardens read, "Each Pressley appearance seems to hale greater throngs of people because of his new style in entertainment," still
spelling his name incorrectly.
One year later, Elvis signed with RCA for a $5,000 bonus, cut his first national No. 1 single, "Heartbreak Hotel," starred in "Love Me Tender," and was on his way to becoming the
once and forever "King of Rock 'n' Roll."
ELVIS PRESLEY vs. THE BEATLES
Records released by Elvis from 1956-77.
For the Beatles, records released from 1964-70.
Total songs on the singles chart
First appearance on the chart
"Heartbreak Hotel" on March 3, 1956.
"I Want to Hold Your Hand" on Jan. 18, 1964.
Last song on the Top/Hot 100 chart
"Way Down" on June 25, 1977.
"The Long and Winding Road" on July 25, 1970.
Total Top 40 songs
It was a far different story when the Beatles' private plane touched down in Houston on Aug. 19, 1965, for the band's appearance at Sam Houston Coliseum. It would be the only
time the lads from Liverpool performed in Houston.
The Beatles performed two shows - 3:30 and 8 p.m. - promoted by KILT Radio. The concerts were billed as "The Sixth Annual Back to School Show," sponsored by the Variety Boys
Club of Houston. Tickets cost $5. Fans had to buy tickets at the KILT office or mail in their money. The station hired two high school girls to sort through the mail. The Beatles were
guaranteed $50,000 plus a share of ticket sales. They left Houston with $85,000 cash in manager Brian Epstein's briefcase.
The opening acts were Brenda Holloway with King Curtis and His Band, Cannibal and the Headhunters and Sounds Incorporated. KILT personality Russ Knight, "the Weird Beard,"
introduced the Beatles, after several minutes of pleading with, then threatening, the screaming crowd to sit down and be quiet.
Quiet? Not a chance. The Beatles walked onstage, Paul McCartney waved and shouted "Howdy" in his best Texan drawl. The moptops from England shook their hair, fans stamped
their feet, and the building shook.
The Beatles originally planned to play Houston in 1964, at Colt Stadium, home of the Colt .45s baseball team. But Epstein thought the venue was too large (45,000 capacity).
Epstein promised local promoters that Houston would be on the 1965 tour and kept his word.
The Beatles' plane touched down at 2 a.m. at Hobby Airport. Several hundred fans were waiting for them. It would be one of their wildest - and scariest - arrivals anywhere. Fans
broke through security and swarmed the plane, with the Beatles still inside, the plane's propellers still whirring. A few fans climbed on the wings and banged on windows. Others
grabbed hold of the plane's wheels. The Beatles escaped by squeezing into a catering wagon that whisked them to an empty terminal.
The Beatles were taken to the downtown Sheraton-Lincoln Hotel for a few hours' sleep. The group took over the 18th floor. They ate grapefruit, scrambled eggs, shredded wheat
and tea for breakfast. The sheets they slept on were later auctioned for charity.
At a news conference that afternoon, Lennon said, "We haven't seen much of Texas. We've only seen Dallas and here (Houston) and nearly got killed both times." Asked if the
Beatles knew that Houston was home to the U.S. space program, Lennon said, "You see one space shot, you've seen them all."
The Beatles performed the same 12 songs at both shows: "Twist and Shout," "Baby's in Black," "She's a Woman," "I Feel Fine," "Dizzy Miss Lizzy," "Ticket to Ride," "Everybody's
Tryin' to Be My Baby," "Can't Buy Me Love," "I Wanna Be Your Man," "A Hard Day's Night," "Help!" and "I'm Down."
Thirty-five minutes on and off the stage. The afternoon concert drew 10,000 fans. The evening show was a sellout, with 12,000 fans. By 11 p.m., the Beatles were off to their next
concert in Chicago. The group never returned to Texas.