Auditorium History


Date: February 28th,
2018 Time: 7.00 PM
Location: Arkansas Municipal Auditorium
Website: http://GABLife2020.com
Event Type: Acoustic Set and Panel
Audience: Ages 13+
Organised By: Generations Against Bullying

About The Auditorium

It served as a recreational and cultural gathering place during much of the twentieth century. It was the primary place for dance and piano recitals, guitar students, theatre productions as well as school productions. Fashion shows were sponsored by the Chamber Of Commerce and held in the auditorium. During World War II the auditorium became an important stage for emerging vocalists and musicians and variety shows to entertain the travelers. In 1942, Louis Armstrong appeared, as well as some of the noted Big Bands. By the early 1950’s, as the music scene was changed, the Big Bands were being replaced with the new “Rock N Roll” music emerging from the Country & Western genre.

Elvis, Scotty, Bill and eventually DJ made several appearances at the Auditorium, at least four in 1955 and varying accounts have suggested as many as two in 1954. Unfortunately, lacking ads for all the shows coupled with recollections that at times both corroborate and conflict make ascertaining exact dates for all shows difficult. The first was thought by some to be on November 24, 1954 and has since been confirmed by Brian Petersen and A Boy from Tupelo along with additional dates of March 3, and 6, 1955. Lee Cotten wrote that December 3rd was verified by several residents who were in their teens at the time, including Dewanda Jo Smith and Pat Cupp. Reputedly all the appearances were on Friday nights. Carl “Cheesy” Nelson, who reputedly filled in for Elvis, recalled that the Browns and the Louvin Brothers also performed and that the show was promoted by Jim LeFan of KOSY radio. He wrote that after the show Nelson and Elvis double-dated in Elvis’ pink Ford Crown Victoria.2 They did in fact appear on April 22, 1955 but an item in the May 21 issue of Billboard magazine implies that Nelson (also) performed at the April show. It read, “A youngster named Cheesie Nelson brought down the house here (recently with the Elvis Presley unit, singing an old one, ‘Worry, Worry, Worry,’ writes Cousin Jim Lefan , of KOSY, Texarkana, Ark. ‘Nelson has a style similar to Presley’s and he’s just as great.’ ” No mention was made of a duet.  It wasn’t the first time that other acts were backed by Scotty and Bill, its possible that he performed at several of their appearances.

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