Elvis Month: From the Stage to the Screen

Elvis 07/08/2019

November 1955 Colonel Tom Parker negotiates the sale of Elvis’ Sun contract to RCA Records, including all early recordings, for an unprecedented $35,000, with a $5,000 bonus for Elvis.

At the same time Elvis sets up a new firm Elvis Presley Music, Inc. with Hill and Range Publishing Company, they will share ownership of songs Hill and Range buy for Elvis to record.

This cements Elvis as the hottest new star in the music business. 

In January, two days after he turned 21 Elvis records the first of many sessions with RCA, among those early recordings is ‘Heartbreak Hotel’.

The single is released on vinyl later that month and sells over 300,000 copies in three weeks. It goes on to #1 on the Billboard’s pop singles chart for eight weeks. It will become the first ever Elvis single to sell over one million copies, earning Elvis his first golden vinyl record.

Still in January Elvis appears with the band for their first network television appearance on the Jackie Gleason produced ‘Stage Show’ on CBS. He will appear five more times on the show ending, the last one in March.

All the while tours, and the Louisiana Hayride continue when in February the fifth and final single with the Sun label is released.

‘I Forgot to Remember to Forget’ backed with ‘Mystery Train’ hits #1 on Billboard’s national country singles chart, the first Elvis #1 hit on a national chart.

RCA ships ‘Elvis Presley” the first album in his discography in March 1956, the album is filled with early songs and is the first Elvis album to reach $1 million in sales, making him his first gold album award.

In June Elvis appears again on ‘The Milton Berle Show’, this time featuring his now infamous ‘Hound Dog’ performance.

The performance drew quite a lot of controversy with older viewers and the ‘morally concerned’, but younger viewers loved it.

In July he appears on ‘The Steve Allen Show’, performing ‘Hound Dog’ once more but this time to an actual Basset-Hound in a much more toned down, a tongue-in-cheek response to the controversy the month before.

Elvis participates but it is widely considered he was unhappy with the decision.

Condemnation, controversy and popularity continue to grow, so much that Ed Sullivan had said he would never have the likes of Elvis Presley on his show.

When Elvis’ success became undeniable they agreed to a three-appearance deal for $50,000, then the highest amount ever paid to a performer for a variety show.

In August he begins shooting for his first movie, ‘Love Me Tender’, renamed to capitalise on the suer to be a hit single from the soundtrack.

In September he makes his first appearance on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’, the top television show of the era, with the appearance gaining the highest ratings for a variety show.