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Presley became close to both parents and formed an especially close bond with his mother. The family attended an Assembly of God church, where he found his initial musical inspiration. On his mother's side he was Scots-Irish , with some French Norman. Vernon moved from one odd job to the next, evincing little ambition. In , they lost their home after Vernon was found guilty of altering a check written by his landowner and sometime employer. He was jailed for eight months, and Gladys and Elvis moved in with relatives. The contest, held at the Mississippi—Alabama Fair and Dairy Show on October 3, , was his first public performance. Ten-year-old Presley was dressed as a cowboy; he stood on a chair to reach the microphone and sang "Old Shep". He recalled placing fifth. Presley recalled, "I took the guitar, and I watched people, and I learned to play a little bit. But I would never sing in public. I was very shy about it. The following year, he began bringing his guitar to school on a daily basis. He played and sang during lunchtime, and was often teased as a "trashy" kid who played hillbilly music. By then, the family was living in a largely African American neighborhood. He was described as "crazy about music" by Slim's younger brother, who was one of Presley's classmates and often took him into the station. Slim supplemented Presley's guitar tuition by demonstrating chord techniques. Presley was overcome by stage fright the first time, but succeeded in performing the following week. After residing for nearly a year in rooming houses , they were granted a two-bedroom apartment in the public housing complex known as the Lauderdale Courts. Humes High School , Presley received only a C in music in eighth grade. When his music teacher told him he had no aptitude for singing, he brought in his guitar the next day and sang a recent hit, "Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers Off Me", in an effort to prove otherwise. A classmate later recalled that the teacher "agreed that Elvis was right when he said that she didn't appreciate his kind of singing". They and three other boys—including two future rockabilly pioneers, brothers Dorsey and Johnny Burnette —formed a loose musical collective that played frequently around the Courts. In his free time, he would head down to Beale Street , the heart of Memphis's thriving blues scene, and gaze longingly at the wild, flashy clothes in the windows of Lansky Brothers. By his senior year, he was wearing them. Presley recalled that the performance did much for his reputation: I failed music—only thing I ever failed. And then they entered me in this talent show It was amazing how popular I became after that. He also frequented record stores that provided jukeboxes and listening booths to customers. King recalled that he had known Presley before he was popular, when they both used to frequent Beale Street. First recordings See also: He aimed to pay for a few minutes of studio time to record a two-sided acetate disc: He would later claim that he intended the record as a gift for his mother, or that he was merely interested in what he "sounded like", although there was a much cheaper, amateur record-making service at a nearby general store. Biographer Peter Guralnick argues that he chose Sun in the hope of being discovered. Asked by receptionist Marion Keisker what kind of singer he was, Presley responded, "I sing all kinds. He explained to his father, "They told me I couldn't sing. Bond rejected him after a tryout, advising Presley to stick to truck driving "because you're never going to make it as a singer". Presley came by the studio, but was unable to do it justice. Despite this, Phillips asked Presley to sing as many numbers as he knew. He was sufficiently affected by what he heard to invite two local musicians, guitarist Winfield "Scotty" Moore and upright bass player Bill Black , to work something up with Presley for a recording session. The session, held the evening of July 5, proved entirely unfruitful until late in the night. As they were about to give up and go home, Presley took his guitar and launched into a blues number, Arthur Crudup's " That's All Right ". Moore recalled, "All of a sudden, Elvis just started singing this song, jumping around and acting the fool, and then Bill picked up his bass, and he started acting the fool, too, and I started playing with them. Sam, I think, had the door to the control booth open The interest was such that Phillips played the record repeatedly during the last two hours of his show. Interviewing Presley on-air, Phillips asked him what high school he attended in order to clarify his color for the many callers who had assumed he was black. A combination of his strong response to rhythm and nervousness at playing before a large crowd led Presley to shake his legs as he performed: From August through October, they played frequently at the Eagle's Nest club and returned to Sun Studio for more recording sessions,  and Presley quickly grew more confident on stage. According to Moore, "His movement was a natural thing, but he was also very conscious of what got a reaction. He'd do something one time and then he would expand on it real quick. The Shreveport -based show was broadcast to radio stations in 28 states. Presley had another attack of nerves during the first set, which drew a muted reaction. A more composed and energetic second set inspired an enthusiastic response. Fontana brought a new element, complementing Presley's movements with accented beats that he had mastered playing in strip clubs. By early , Presley's regular Hayride appearances, constant touring, and well-received record releases had made him a regional star, from Tennessee to West Texas. In January, Neal signed a formal management contract with Presley and brought the singer to the attention of Colonel Tom Parker , whom he considered the best promoter in the music business. Parker—who claimed to be from West Virginia he was actually Dutch —had acquired an honorary colonel's commission from country singer turned Louisiana governor Jimmie Davis. Having successfully managed top country star Eddy Arnold , Parker was now working with the new number-one country singer, Hank Snow. Parker booked Presley on Snow's February tour. I just didn't know what to make of it. There was just no reference point in the culture to compare it. According to Neal, many country-music disc jockeys would not play it because he sounded too much like a black artist and none of the rhythm-and-blues stations would touch him because "he sounded too much like a hillbilly. So many of them, through some sort of jealousy, would practically hate him. There were occasions in some towns in Texas when we'd have to be sure to have a police guard because somebody'd always try to take a crack at him. They'd get a gang and try to waylay him or something. In mid-October, they played a few shows in support of Bill Haley , whose " Rock Around the Clock " had been a number-one hit the previous year. Haley observed that Presley had a natural feel for rhythm, and advised him to sing fewer ballads. Songwriters were obliged to forgo one third of their customary royalties in exchange for having him perform their compositions. Commercial breakout and controversy First national TV appearances and debut album The "iconic cover" of Presley's debut album ,  an image crucial in codifying the guitar as the defining instrument of rock and roll  On January 10, , Presley made his first recordings for RCA in Nashville. The program, produced in New York, was hosted on alternate weeks by big band leaders and brothers Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Joined by five previously unreleased Sun recordings, its seven recently recorded tracks were of a broad variety. There were two country songs and a bouncy pop tune. The others would centrally define the evolving sound of rock and roll: As described by Hilburn, these "were the most revealing of all. Unlike many white artists He not only injected the tunes with his own vocal character but also made guitar, not piano, the lead instrument in all three cases. Rodman argues that the album's cover image, "of Elvis having the time of his life on stage with a guitar in his hands played a crucial role in positioning the guitar His performance, on the deck of the USS Hancock in San Diego , prompted cheers and screams from an audience of sailors and their dates. The shows were poorly received by the conservative, middle-aged hotel guests—"like a jug of corn liquor at a champagne party," wrote a critic for Newsweek. It became the new closing number of his act. It warned that "Presley is a definite danger to the security of the United States. After the show, more than 1, teenagers tried to gang into Presley's room at the auditorium. Indications of the harm Presley did just in La Crosse were the two high school girls Berle persuaded the singer to leave his guitar backstage, advising, "Let 'em see you, son. Presley has no discernible singing ability. His phrasing, if it can be called that, consists of the stereotyped variations that go with a beginner's aria in a bathtub. His one specialty is an accented movement of the body Elvis, who rotates his pelvis Allen, no fan of rock and roll, introduced a "new Elvis" in a white bow tie and black tails. Presley sang "Hound Dog" for less than a minute to a basset hound wearing a top hat and bow tie. As described by television historian Jake Austen, "Allen thought Presley was talentless and absurd I don't want to do anything to make people dislike me. I think TV is important so I'm going to go along, but I won't be able to give the kind of show I do in a personal appearance. Pressed on whether he had learned anything from the criticism to which he was being subjected, Presley responded, "No, I haven't, I don't feel like I'm doing anything wrong. I don't see how any type of music would have any bad influence on people when it's only music. I mean, how would rock 'n' roll music make anyone rebel against their parents? A few days later, the singer made an outdoor concert appearance in Memphis at which he announced, "You know, those people in New York are not gonna change me none. I'm gonna show you what the real Elvis is like tonight.
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