Wednesday, April 16, 2008

We are going to present you with the new Elvis Presley tonight

On July 1,1956 Elvis would appear on the Steve Allen show. It was a natural movie after appearing on Berle and the Dorsey Brothers. This was the big time when it came to television, only Sullivan was bigger. Elvis had caused such a uproar over his last appearance on TV that Sullivan had shortly before said he would never have Presley on. Allen was going to tone Elvis down and said that this would be a show the whole family could watch. Elvis would appear in a tuxedo and would not be moving around. Elvis would sing I Want You, I Need You, I Love You, and Hound Dog. Allen would give Elvis a giant roll of paper that has 18,000 signatures saying they wanted to see Elvis on TV again. After Berle's show, critics, reporters, and parents said he should never be shown again. Allen joked it looked like a giant roll of toilet paper, an attempt to make Elvis look bad. Allen hated rock and roll, and did not like Elvis. This whole damn show was to make Elvis look like an idiot. Ironically a few years later the killer would appear on his show and get better treatment. Anyway after Elvis and I Want You, Allen brought a basset hound out for Elvis to sing Hound Dog to. We all know how much Elvis hated this, but this was truly a bunch of crap. Allen would later talk Elvis up good, but he really wanted to make him look like a fool. Elvis and his band was treated badly that night. The night would end with a sketch featuring Elvis, Allen, Imogene Coca, and Andy Griffith. The show thought turned out to be a huge hit. It was the best showing NBC had in years. Allen also killed Ed Sullivan in the rating, which never happened. You knew this was coming as far as how the show played out. Allen was going to try to tame down Elvis. Even though Elvis hated it and despised doing it, it was an important part of his path. Parker knew that if Allen blew Sullivan away, Ed would come a calling. Sure enough Sullivan was calling Elvis' people before they even left the studio that night. That would lead to the appearances on Sullivan later in the year. The next day Elvis was off to the studio to record and he was greeted by irate fans. This time instead of the people bashing him telling him he was vulgar, it was is fans wanting the "real Elvis " back. Elvis would head back home to Memphis to put on a fourth of July concert. He would tell his fans "those people in New York ain't going to change me none, I'm going to show you the real Elvis Presley tonight". He was right they hadn't. Elvis was changing things for them though. Even though he was still under fire and getting criticized, people wanted to see him for various reasons. So they had to put him on TV. Tom Parker was playing this game better then anyone could ever imagine and turning Elvis into the biggest star the world had ever saw. This is probably the least inspired TV performance, and my least favorite. Though it was the ultimate springboard to the biggest stage of them all for the time, Sullivan. This would always be the one time Elvis really thought he sold out. He was really embarrassed by it. Though it worked out better in the long run for him this way. He probably never realized that. That is why Parker was so great though. He understood this and knew how to capitalize on it.Below is the footage from this show. It is almost painful for me to watch the Hound Dog take, but the I Want You is great.

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