HomeEntertainmentMusicOn This Day: Elvis Presley Makes First TV Appearance Playing ‘Shake, Rattle, and Roll’ in 1956

On This Day: Elvis Presley Makes First TV Appearance Playing ‘Shake, Rattle, and Roll’ in 1956

by Emily Morgan
(Photo by GAB Archive/Getty Images)

America would be forever changed when Elvis Presley showed off his gyrating moves during his first T.V. appearance.

While many fans consider Elvis Presley’s appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” to be his first television performance, he made his T.V. debut on a CBS program called the “Stage Show,” hosted by the Dorsey Brothers.

From January 28th to March 24th, 1956, Elvis made regular Saturday appearances on the national program for six weeks.

According to Tommy Dorsey’s biography, the show looked around for new acts to host when they discovered Elvis.

After hearing him and seeing him dance, they booked him for the following week’s show.

Before his first performance, Presley met Tommy Dorsey in New York for rehearsals, but the other musicians didn’t seem to care much for Elvis’ hip-thrusting moves.

“During our rehearsal with him, some guys fell off the bandstand laughing at Elvis,” said musician Pat Chartrand. “It was so shocking to all of us, we couldn’t believe it.”

Musician John Frosk admitted, “We didn’t like him because he looked dirty, and he needed a haircut. We thought he never bathed.”

Despite this, after the rehearsal, Dorsey made a statement that he would never forget.

“You see that guy Elvis Presley – he’s going to be one of the biggest names in show business in a short time,” he said.

The night of his performance, New York disc jockey Bill Randall introduced Elvis to the stage by predicting that he would forever change the music.

“We think tonight that he’s going to make television history for you!”

Elvis performed two versions of the R&B standards, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” and “I Got A Woman.”

After his shocking performance on this show, many other shows were nervous about bringing him on to perform. Even Ed Sullivan even said he would never book the icon due to his never-before-seen dance style.

Elvis Presley Changes Ed Sullivan’s Mind

However, Sullivan changed his stance on Elvis and booked him for $50,000 to perform. Tragically, Sullivan was not able to attend due to a car accident.

Even though they allowed Elvis to perform, some say the directors made sure the cameras only shot him from the waist up to keep audiences from seeing his jaw-dropping hip gyrating.

Even though they tried to keep people from seeing the moves, you can tell the audience was excited as you can hear them scream and shout as he commands the stage.

Little did Elvis know, his fans would be imitating his dance moves decades later.