Today in History: Elvis appears on Ed Sullivan for the 1st time

in history •  7 days ago 

For most of the people on this platform seeing the words "Ed Sullivan" probably elicits a "huh?" reaction. However, back long long ago, when TV's were still black and white and content the likes of which Elvis produced was considered controversial, Ed Sullivan was the biggest and most popular showcase in the world.

The year was 1956


Many musical historians claim that September 9th, 1956 is the day that rock and roll was started down a path of musical domination that would last for many decades, and the appearance of Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan was the factor that made that happen.

Ed Sullivan was an extremely conservative man, and was initially opposed to having Elvis appear on the show despite the fact that the offer of a $5,000 fee that Elvis' manager made was considered very low. However, after Elvis made his first ever TV appearance on The Steve Allen show, who was Sullivan's only competition at the time and Presley's presence dramatically shifted popularity to Allen's program.... Sullivan changed his mind.

The contract was renegotiated at $50,000 which was an unprecedented performance fee at the time. I don't know if there was some hurt feelings there, but I'm pretty sure that Presley's management knew that had Sullivan by the gonads.


You may recall the scene in Forrest Gump where a young Forrest and his mama are walking down the street and inside a shop window Elvis is performing "Hound Dog" on a TV program. "Mama" says "this is not for children's eyes!" and is appalled at the hip gyrations that Elvis is performing on live television. Well, as it turns out Sullivan, a rather puritan man, felt the same way, and after this performance, the cameras were re-aligned to show Elvis only from the waist up.

If only we could go back in time and show Ed what music videos of today, filled with sex and violence but are still considered acceptable for mass consumption, look like. He'd probably have you arrested.

It's kind of funny to hear how the girls in the audience go mental when Elvis does or says pretty much anything. All further appearances on the Ed Sullivan show were heavily "censored" but some people argued that this only increased Elvis' allure and prompted people to spend big bucks on live performances.

60 million people tuned in for this performance and it is estimated that this was over 80% of the total television-owning population in the United States at the time. I think it is safe to say that Elvis was marketing gold in the 50's. This record would later be broken by the Beatles a mere 7 years later who managed to get 73 million viewers. Of course it is fair to assume that more households had televisions by then but whatever.

Do you have a favorite Elvis song? Maybe you don't even know any of them. If you do have a favorite I'd like to hear about it!

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I do not have a favorite Elvis song, but I appreciate piece of history that you are showing here. I did not remember the appearance in the Ed Sullivan's show and this was a great reminder.

well, i was more than negative 20 years old when this happened, but that doesn't change how important it was. The way that information gets to us so immediately these days, it is kind of difficult to imagine what times were like back then. Imagine having never heard of Elvis an then sitting down with the family to see him on Ed Sullivan only to have your parents hate it, but then you love it and you aren't even exactly sure why because this genre of music didn't really exist before.... I bet that was a pretty amazing time to experience.

He was a Legend!

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I've said this before, I am not really that much of an Elvis fan. I can appreciate what he did for the genre, but I don't really see the draw. If I had to pick a favorite Elvis song, it would probably be Kentucky Rain. That isn't to say that I will change the station when any of his other ones come on. Except maybe In the Ghetto. I kind of hate that song. It makes me want to gag almost as much as Beth by Kiss. I do like Blue Christmas though.