This evening, for the first time, Elvis will appear on Ed Sullivan. It is a milestone not only in the change in music, but also the new movement towards youth culture and tv marketing. This first showing of Elvis on Ed Sullivan resulted in 60 million viewers tuning in.
Ed Sullivan had initially said he did not want Elvis on his show. He did not approve of his overtly sexual stage moves and the music in general. And, what is interesting, is what turned his opinion is the beginning of that change to our now modern world: He wanted as many viewers as The Steve Allen Show, as they shared a time slot. Elvis had already been a guest on the Steve Allen show and when the numbers were in for the audience, Sullivan agreed.
It was decided that Elvis would make three appearances (one tonight, one on October 28, and finally, next year in 1957 in January) The fee for this was $50,000.00 Today, I am sure this seems a very small amount for a rock star, but you must realize the whole concept of this form of entertainment, mixed with media beamed into every home in America is a new idea. In today’s money that would be $350,000. Even that would be small for such a star these days. Money is beginning to talk. This is also an amazing amount when one considers two years earlier in 1954 Elvis was paid $10 to perform at the grand opening of the Lamar-Airways Shopping Center in Memphis Tennessee.
So, tonight at 8 pm EST, Elvis will appear on the Ed Sullivan Show. Ed will not even be hosting, as he had been in a serious car accident, so the actor Charles Laughton will host from the studio in New York City. Elvis, however, was in Los Angeles filming Love Me Tender.
After being introduced by Laughton, Elvis thanked him and then said, “This is probably the greatest honor that I’ve ever had in my life.” Elvis then sang, “Don’t Be Cruel” with his four back-up singers (the Jordanaires) followed by “Love Me Tender,” which was the not-yet-released title track from his new movie.
This is the first song he performed, Don’t be cruel, though this is not from that performance but from the same year.
The second song was “Love Me Tender” and this video is from that actual first Ed Sullivan from this evening, 1956.
Love Me Tender the movie will be released this November 21st.
I really am beginning to feel this year, 1956, is beginning to mark many little changes that are leading to our modern 21st century world. With the increase in money to be made from ‘big music stars’ combined with the media of TV and movies and the Youth Movement, we begin to see the kernel of our new world.
I only wish we could have just veered things a little different direction. Even poor Elvis will ultimately succumb to the very machine that made him. It seems this is the point when people are not just being used, as they once were in the beginning of the Industrial Revolution as simple slaves, but as the product themselves. This, of course, has culminated into our being walking billboards who advertise and sell to ourselves to the point that we are literally working to buy. If only I had a real time machine, but alas, I can but try to live on that old cusp of the new materialism and try to make small changes in my own life. We can’t erase the past but we do have control over our present and futures.
Until tomorrow, Happy Homemaking.