From the Memphis Mojo Newspaper 8-2-2004
Overton Park Shell 50th Anniversary, Elvis’
1st live show
By Brown Burnett MemphisMojo Editor
It was billed as yet another 50th Anniversary of
Rock ‘n’ Roll celebration. But while the one last month
at Sun Studios marked the anniversary of Elvis Presley’s first
recording, the one at Overton Park this past weekend marked the
50th anniversary of Elvis’ first live performance at the Overton
Saturday afternoon a dedicated crowd of a few thousand true believers
(not counting the College of Art students who came and went throughout)
were on hand to pay tribute to Elvis and the form of music called
“rockabilly.” The crowd ranged “from 6 to 60,”
actually from “6 months to 75” with about half of them
being people who were too young to remember much firsthand about
Elvis. Friendly dogs also roamed among the benches at the Shell
on a ridiculously gorgeous summer day.
This was billed also as a Rockabilly Hall of Fame concert/event
and for those who are interested, that hallowed Hall is in Burns,
TN, about 40 miles west of Nashville.
But the Shell was the setting for bands who played 50 years ago
and also the bands who played this weekend. Elvis made his debut
on that same stage July 30, 1954, as a member of the Blue Moon Boys
(Scotty Moore on guitar and Bill Black on bass). The newspaper called
him ‘Ellis’ Presley and the Blue Moon Boys were the
warm-up band for yodeling country star Slim Whitman. And with a
shake of the Elvis leg, live rock ‘n’ roll was born.
Each of the acts who performed Saturday treated the stage at the
Shell as Holy Ground.
The Buzzards, a great rockabilly trio from New York played an exceptional,
high energy set, with tattooed singer/guitarist Roy Wilson expressing
time and again, his amazement at playing where Elvis once stood.
“Did he REALLY play here? Right here, where I’m standing?”
he asked the crowd, who quickly told him ‘yes’. Wilson
then bent down and kissed the stage and continued ripping through
a set of Memphis-heavy rockabilly, with the cover of Johnny Cash’s
old Sun hit “Cry Cry Cry” being their best number.
The Buzzards drove their van 1100 miles to be at the Shell for the
anniversary and loved every minute of it, even hanging around long
after their set. They sat on the front row and attentively listened
to a procession of well-seasoned dedicated local musicians, whose
talent far exceeded their fame, perform music they’ve loved
and played for 50 years or more.
“You people are so lucky to have this place – to be
the home of rock and roll. We couldn’t wait to get here,”
Wilson said, before blazing another Memphis-drenched guitar solo.