First Record & Early Gigs

On Monday, July 19, 1954, hot off the presses at Buster Williams' Plastic Products plant on Chelsea Ave. in Memphis, came the release of Elvis Presley's first record. It was Sun record number 209 -"That's All Right" backed with "Blue Moon of Kentucky". Producer/Sun Records owner Sam Phillips already had 6,000 local orders. Peter Guralnick in his book "Last Train To Memphis" said, "Ed Leek, a Humes classmate who was premed at Memphis State, described going down to the plant and watching the first records come off the press with Elvis, who was 'like a little kid at Christmas.'"

Scotty Moore and Bill Black were the musicians who backed Elvis and they were members of a band called the Starlite Wranglers. They regularly
played on weekends at the Bon Air club on Summer Avenue in east Memphis. The Bon Air was a bit rowdy and the clientele were hard drinking lovers of hillbilly music. Elvis neither looked the part nor sounded like anything they were used to. Elvis and the boys played their two songs at the Bon Air a couple of weekends that July. However, that didn't last long. The Wranglers didn't take to Scotty and Bill's involvement with Elvis' act, not only because his music wasn't like their own, but because this act didn't include them. Scotty and Bill soon left the Wranglers. By August 1954 and continuing through October, Elvis and the boys were a regular part of the weekend entertainment at a club on Lamar and Winchester called The Eagle's Nest.

The Eagle's Nest was a part of the Clearpool Entertainment complex that included a large swimming pool, ballroom, and restaurant owned by the Joe and Doris Pieraccini family who also owned the Rainbow Lake amusement complex down the street, where Elvis' beloved Rainbow Roller Skating Rink was located. Memphis country music dee-jay "Sleepy Eyed" John Lepley and his band, fronted by Jack Clement, played the main sets of western swing with Elvis, Scotty and Bill as the intermission act. It was said that the young people hanging out at the pool would rush in to hear Elvis and then go back outside when the main act came back on. Often in the audience would be Elvis' parents Vernon and Gladys, Gladys' sister Clettes and her husband Vester (Vernon's brother), as well as Elvis' bosses from Crown Electric James and Gladys Tipler. All were proud of Elvis and his newfound success.