In 1956, Elvis Presley was slowly but surely gaining popularity in the United States of America. At just 21 years old, the King of Rock and Roll was stirring up controversy with his “tacky” dance moves while also appearing on America’s hottest TV show – The Ed Sullivan Show. He first appeared at the weekly event on September 8, 1956, where he was introduced by actor Charles Laughton (who was replacing the main presenter). While Elvis’s first appearance went well, his second had a cheeky moment embedded in it.
Elvis played a collection of tracks for his first fight on The Ed Sullivan Show. He played Don’t Be Cruel, Little Richard’s Ready Teddy, and Hound Dog.
A month later, on October 28, 1956, Elvis returned to The Ed Sullivan Show to perform once more. However, he played most of the same songs.
Elvis appeared on the show and once again performed Don’t Be Cruel and Hound Dog.
It is assumed that Ed made a comment after these songs noting that his audience had seen Elvis sing these songs before. So when he began his third song of the night, Elvis had to say something.
For his penultimate song, Elvis performed his newly released hit song Love Me (not to be confused with Love Me Tender, which he played later during the same episode). Elvis also received help from a barbershop quartet known as the Jordanaires.
Elvis said, “Folks, we’d like to do a number for you from our new album. It was released by RCA Victor this week. With the help of the Jordanaires, folks, we’d like to do one called Love Me.” “
Elvis bowed his head and prepared to sing in front of 60 million viewers. But he couldn’t help but show the true mischievous nature of him.
She lifted her head and arched her eyebrows at Ed and smiled. He said, “He’s a new one, Ed!”
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Eventually, however, Ed decided to lift the ban. He then booked Elvis to play his show three times for a staggering $50,000 (approximately $506,000 in 2022).
Still, critics were not satisfied with Elvis’s performance on the show.
A Time magazine reviewer wrote: “When [the performance] was over, parents and critics, as usual, complained in vain about the vulgarity of this strange phenomenon that must somehow be reckoned with.”
Despite the harsh criticism, Ed later praised Elvis for his contribution to the show. He even made a candid comment about the star’s behavior.
He called Elvis “a really decent, fine guy.” He went on to say, “We’ve never had a more enjoyable experience on our show with a big name than we’ve had with you.”
According to Variety in 1956, Elvis’ appearance made his song Love Me Tender a huge hit. They wrote: “For the first time in the history of the record business, a single record has achieved one million sales before being released to the public.”
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