Elvis Presley was born on January 8, 1935, that’s a pretty well known fact. But what happened eleven years later was equally important in the development of rock and roll. Truman was in the White House and the biggest song in the country was “Symphony’ by bandleader Freddy Martin. January 8, 1946 may have seemed like just another day on the surface, but the ramifications of what happened are still being felt today.
Young Elvis Presley was surrounded by music. Blues and country from his surroundings of living on the outskirts of Tupelo, Mississippi. Gospel from the First Assembly of God Church he and his family attended with regularity, and pop music on the radio, all contributed to his musical development. There are different versions about what Elvis really wanted for his eleventh birthday. One states it was a bicycle he wanted and another says he wanted a rifle. He got neither. Instead his mother Gladys took him to the Tupelo Hardware store and bought him a gift that would change the course of history – a $6.95 guitar.
It may have been the most influential birthday gift of all time.
Ten years after Elvis got that guitar, he was just starting to break out of the south, when a friend of mine named Jay Thompson lugged his bulky reel to reel tape recorder to a concert in Texas where a got a backstage interview interview with Elvis. RCA would eventually hear about the tape and release it on an album. Here’s Jay and Elvis talking about his career before becoming a singer.