1935-1957: Page 4
January 27, 1956
"Heartbreak Hotel" b/w "I Was the One" is shipped by RCA and sells over 300,000 copies in its first three weeks on the market. It is soon to go to #1 on Billboard’s pop singles chart for eight weeks and hits #1 on the country chart and #5 on the R&B chart. It becomes the first Elvis single to sell over one million copies, thus earning Elvis his very first gold record award.
January 28, 1956
Elvis appears with Scotty, Bill and D.J. on the Jackie Gleason-produced “Stage Show,” starring Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, on CBS. This is Elvis’ first network television appearance. He appears five more nights on “Stage Show” over the weeks ahead and makes minor waves nationally. The last of these six appearances is March 24. Traveling and personal appearances continue during this time, including the “Louisiana Hayride” appearances for which he is still under contract.
As "Heartbreak Hotel" makes its climb up the charts on its way to #1, "I Forgot to Remember to Forget" b/w "Mystery Train," Elvis' fifth and last single to be released on the Sun label, hits #1 on Billboard’s national country singles chart. His first #1 hit on a national chart.
March 23, 1956
RCA ships “Elvis Presley,” Elvis’ first album. The album soon goes to #1 on Billboard’s pop album chart for 10 weeks. It is the first Elvis album to reach over $1 million in sales, thus earning Elvis his first gold album award.
March 25, 1956
Elvis arrives in Los Angeles to begin a two-part screen test for Paramount Studios in Hollywood on the 26th and 27th. He lip syncs "Blue Suede Shoes" and performs a scene from the as yet unmade film, “The Rainmaker.”
April 3, 1956
Elvis appears on “The Milton Berle Show” on NBC. This particular broadcast of the show originates from the deck of the aircraft carrier the USS Hancock.
April 2 - 6, 1956
Elvis signs a one-picture movie contract with Hal Wallis and Paramount Pictures. The contract includes options for six more pictures.
April 23 - May 9, 1956
Compared to the usual hysteria, Elvis has lukewarm acceptance for his two-week engagement at the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas. He is not exactly what the adult audience of Vegas gamblers relates to very well. During these two weeks, the single “Heartbreak Hotel,” and the album “Elvis Presley,” both hit number one on the Billboard pop charts.
Through all of this, the travel and personal appearances around the country and new record releases continue. The crowds get bigger and bigger, wilder and wilder. Elvis’ fame grows dramatically. Some of these shows have to end early due to fans’ storming the stage. Elvis creates pandemonium wherever he goes.
June 5, 1956
Elvis appears again on “The Milton Berle Show,” this time in the studio where the show usually originates, backed by The Jordanaires, Scotty, Bill and D.J. Among his selections is a playfully sensuous performance of "Hound Dog" that drives the kids in the audience wild and disgusts the press and some of the adult viewers. It is one of his most controversial performances. This merely serves to fuel his seemingly unstoppable popularity even more.
Traveling, personal appearances and new record releases continue. By this time, his sexy moves and black-influenced sound is being condemned by certain factions of the “morally concerned” establishment and the religious community. But the kids love it.
July 1, 1956
Elvis appears on “The Steve Allen Show” on NBC. Among his performances this night is a much toned down version of "Hound Dog." Allen has Elvis dress in white tie and black tux with tails and has him sing the song to a live Basset Hound, a tongue-in-cheek response to all controversy created by the Berle appearance the month before. Elvis good-naturedly goes along with it, but is not too happy about it. Elvis also appears in a cowboy comedy sketch with Allen, Imogene Coca and Andy Griffith.
Record releases, touring and recording continue. The condemnation and controversy continues as well, along with the ever-growing popularity. Ed Sullivan, who had said that he would never have the likes of Elvis Presley on his show, changes his tune when he sees the big ratings that Elvis attracts to the Berle and Allen shows. A three-appearance deal is worked out for $50,000 and is the highest amount ever paid to a performer, up to that time, for appearing on a variety show.