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The Definitive ‘Elvis’ Fact Check: What’s True and What’s Fiction in the New Movie?

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THE EARLY YEARSDid Elvis first unveil his onstage gyrations at the Louisiana Hayride?In the film, manager-to-be Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) drives to the Hayride, a less prestigious alternative to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, to see this white kid who has made a Black-sounding record, “That’s All Right.” There, he sees a nervous Elvis blossom into a star in front of his eyes, gyrating in ways that send the teenage girls (and their mothers) in the audience into paroxysms of desire as he sings “Baby, Let’s Play House.”The banter with the Hayride announcer makes it clear that the film is depicting Elvis’ first appearance on the show, which took place on Oct.

16, 1954, after he’d made a disastrous debut on the Opry stage. But Elvis had already been known to gyrate on stage by this point, and the real Hayride story is actually more interesting than the movie’s version.In that first appearance, Elvis did two shows, performing the same two songs – the single and its B-side, “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” By all accounts, he was so nervous and uncomfortable at the first show that the audience didn’t know what to think.

But after a backstage pep talk from Sun Records head Sam Phillips, Elvis came out more relaxed and the audience responded wildly. “When he came back out, he destroyed them,” country star Merle Kilgore said. “They absolutely exploded.”Contrary to what the movie shows, Colonel Parker did not attend this show.

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