This Day in Texas History: Elvis Plays Lubbock’s Cotton Club
This Day in Texas History:
Elvis Plays Lubbock’s Cotton Club
January 6, 1955
On this day in 1955, Elvis Presley, while on the Louisiana Hayride tour played the Cotton Club in Lubbock.
The up-and-coming, but still largely unknown, Elvis Presley officially joined the Louisiana Hayride with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black on November 6, 1954. The Hayride broadcast live from Shreveport’s Municipal Auditorium every Saturday night on KWKH, a 50,000-watt clear-channel station. KWKH not only blanketed the Arkansas-Louisiana-Texas area, but the AM frequency also bounced and skipped its way across much of North Central and West Texas, and listeners quickly tuned in to the youthful singing sensation. Once Elvis became a member of the Hayride cast, opportunities for personal appearances soon followed, and the Lone Star State became a prime testing ground for what some reporters later described as Presley’s “atomic-powered” performances.
Elvis made his first stops west of the Sabine River in November and December 1954 in Gladewater and Houston, but 1955 was the year the Presley-Texas connection was really forged in earnest. That year he performed in fifteen states, primarily in the South, making approximately 225 appearances, excluding Louisiana Hayride shows. At least 100 of these appearances, or almost 40 percent, took place in Texas: thirteen in Houston, eight in Lubbock, six in Dallas, four in Odessa, and three each in Abilene and Midland. He debuted on Big D Jamboree, broadcast on radio KRLD, at the Sportatorium in Dallas on April 16, 1955. And he also played engagements in high school auditoriums, rodeo arenas, and baseball fields in smaller towns such as Alpine, Breckenridge, Conroe, DeKalb, Gainesville, Gilmer, Gonzales, Hawkins, Joinerville, New Boston, Paris, Seymour, Stamford, and Sweetwater.
In Lubbock, Buddy Holly was in attendance for Presley’s initial stop there on January 6, 1955, at the Cotton Club. On February 13 at Fair Park Coliseum, Waylon Jennings met Elvis backstage, and Buddy and Bob (Holly and his then singing partner Bob Montgomery) were among the opening acts. On June 3, thirteen-year-old Lubbock native Mac Davis witnessed Elvis shake the showroom of the local Pontiac dealership. Presley later recorded seven of Davis’s compositions, including the 1969 Top 10 hits “In the Ghetto” and “Don’t Cry Daddy.”
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