45 years ago today Elvis Presley passed away at Graceland in Memphis TN. He is the best selling solo artist in music history. Elvis changed music back in the 1950s, and his influence is still felt today. Elvis performed thousands of shows over the years, but I’m going to tell you about the last time he played here. Yep, Elvis played in Augusta. The date was June 27th 1956. Elvis performed at a jam packed Bell Auditorium. When we say jam packed, it’s true, there were over 6,000 people in there!
The Bell did have a little bit different layout back in the 50s, but still 6,000 is a lot for that building. Bill Kirby from The Augusta Chronicle posted a story about the show. In that article, they describe Elvis as “wearing a flaming red jacket, he “ground, twitched and swung his hips.” The Chronicle also called him “the hottest thing in music today”, and in 1956 he was! This was the same year when Elvis was considered dangerous to society. 1956 was the same year Ed Sullivan would only show Elvis from the waist up.
Elvis sang seven songs and then jumped off the stage and into a waiting car. He didn’t go far though. Elvis went just a few blocks away to Luigis to get some food (great choice E). I wish I could’ve seen Elvis live, I know the people who saw this show knew they were seeing something they’d never see again. There was a rumor that Elvis was supposed to be the first show at the Civic Center back in 1970s. I don’t know if it’s true or not. Here is a link to Bill Kirby’s story on the show that night at The Bell.
Also here’s a video Bill did about Elvis in Augusta.