On August 6, 1956, Elvis gave what will be remembered as an iconic performance at the Polk Theatre. During the time his song “Hound Dog” was new and trending, he drew in crowds eager (paying $1.50) to hear the music phenomenon.
With such a large crowd, one would assume that Elvis would be shaking and quaking all night for his fans, but his performance was only 15 minutes long. So who else was on stage with The King of Rock and Roll? From comedians to vocal quartets, the Polk Theatre was movin’ and groovin’ to all different types of melodies throughout the night, warming up the audience. Here’s a brief sample of performers and a little about their career + performance that distinguished night for Lakeland.
This vocal quartet was known for performing with Elvis in his first recordings with his record label, RCA. In 1954 he heard them perform and told them once he got his shot at the main stage, he was going to ask them to back him up. They never expected to hear from him, but in January of 1956 he asked them to help him with songs such as “I Got A Woman,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” and “Money Honey.” Since then, they joined him for performances across the U.S.
For each performance, Phil would always do his stand up bit, bringing the anxious crowd to tears of laughter, warming them up for their tears of joy with Elvis. The most iconic part of his routine was his signature bit...expelling golf balls from his mouth, he didn’t mind making a fool of himself. A Ledger reporter even described the bit as “coughing up a million golf balls.”
This is the group that brought Elvis to the front of the music scene in the 50’s. With Scotty Moore on the guitar, Bill Black on the bass, and later D. V. Fontana on the drums, the Blue Moon Boys launched into the spotlight. As they continued making a name for themselves, Elvis signed with RCA and had the group back him up as he stole the hearts of millions of teenage girls. At the Polk Theatre performance, they warmed up the audience before Elvis made his grand appearance to the ever patient crowd. They were said to have made great background music and help keep the performances lively all throughout the show.
Elvis and his fellow performers were excited and ready to give Lakelanders a show they could never forget. They helped create a legacy for the Polk Theatre as it continues to host performers with incredible talent. Want to hear more from Elvis? Listen in to his interview for TV Guide at the Polk Theatre. If you have a story about his performance or any other legendary Polk Theatre experiences, we would love to hear about it.