Reviews : Elvis Presley at The New Frontier Hotel April 1956

By: Elvis Australia
September 3, 2012

Elvis Presley, New Singing Find, Booked Into New Frontier

Elvis Presley, New Singing Find, Booked Into New FrontierLas Vegas Sun : Staff Report : April 21, 1956

Elvis Presley, unanimously acclaimed by critics as the most important singing find since Johnnie Ray, will open in the New Frontier Hotels' Venus Room Monday, April 23, as a special added attraction to the Freddy Martin show. The handsome 21-year-old rock 'n' roller's appearance in the latest Sammy Lewis production is considered to be the Las Vegas entertainment scoop of the year.

Elvis Presley's sensational rise to fame is largely based on his recent recording of Heartbreak Hotel which sold 100,000 copies the first week it was out and at present is nearing the 1,000,000 mark.

Two years ago the young giant (he stands 6 feet 2 inches tall) was driving a truck in Memphis for $45 a week. Yet in West Coast appearances last week his unusual singing style attracted turnaway audiences of 5,000 and special police squads were needed to handle the admiring crowds who came to see America's newest idol.

Adding to Presley's fame and fortune is a motion picture contract which he signed with Paramount Studios in Hollywood just this week. The young vocalist will be featured in one of the most lavish productions ever presented in the Venus Room, Lewis stated. Freddy Martin and his band, comic Shecky Greene, the Venus Starlets and a cast of more than 60 performers will make up the entertainment package.

Column: Just About Everything Under The Sun

By Bud Lilly (New Frontier Hotel publicity director) : Las Vegas Sun : April 26, 1956

Thanks for your note requesting more info on Elvis Presley. You should know nothing makes a publicity man happier than furnishing background on one of his favorite subjects. And Elvis certainly is one of my favorite subjects. Here is a nonchalant phenomenon whom, as yet, no one has accurately described. Here is a young man who has an inherent ability to arouse mass hysteria (or should I say ecstasy?) wherever he goes, yet is unassuming and completely untouched by the fabulous success he has achieved almost overnight.

Scotty Moore and Elvis Presley Las Vegas 1956
Scotty Moore and Elvis Presley Las Vegas 1956 : Above photo from the book Flashback.

Wherever Elvis has appeared in the recent weeks since he 'hit' he has left behind him tears, screams, wild applause and mangled emotions. Yet it must be a sweet agony he creates because his avid fans already have elevated him to a plane reached only by a few singers of our time. Far be it for me to analyze this handsome, 21-year-old lad whose rock 'n' roll rhythms brings forth squeals and cries not heard since way back when Frank Sinatra first came into his own. It has been suggested to me that Elvis Presley is a combination of Johnnie Ray and Billy Daniels - that he displays the magnetism of Sinatra and Como- that he possesses the intangible attributes of almost any two or three popular male singers you might care to group. I'll go so far as to say I don't agree with this. In my opinion, this boy is one to himself - doing what comes naturally.

The most-used phrase coined by writers across the country to describe Presley's singing is 'a peculiar brand of western bop'. Yet that 'peculiar brand of western bop' alone could inflame followers to mob a theater for just a look at their idol? This is not an unusual incident when Elvis makes a personal appearance. City officials from coast to coast already have learned to place extra police on duty to control overflow crowds wherever he appears. Presley is billed as 'America's only atomic powered singer'.

Maybe, this explains everything you and I are witnessing another amazing development in this amazing age of the atom. It makes as much sense as another rationalization of an 'irrational situation'.

Briefly he was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, on January 8, 1935. All his training in show business has been through self-instruction. Two years ago he was a truck driver. Last December he was signed to an RCA Victor recording contract and just two weeks ago signed to a seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures In Hollywood. Sammy Lewis, our producer here at the New Frontier Hotel says he feels this is only the beginning!

And THERE you are.

Hoping to stir the interest of Vegas showgoers in April of 1956, Elvis Presley and Liberace were brought together in a comical session of publicity photos where the duo switched instruments and wardrobe.

Review of Elvis' show

By Bill Willard : Las Vegas SUN : April 28, 1956

Accent is on pitch and pull for this batch of acts comprising the current Venus Room Bill. The powers of the New Frontier are pitching the local premiere of Elvis Presley, but the pull will be in Freddy Martin's smooth music making and word-of-mouth cheering for Shecky Greene's unbridled comedy.......

Elvis Presley, arriving here on the wave of tremendous publicity, fails to hit the promised mark in a desert isle surfeited with rock and rollers who play in shifts atop every cocktail lounge on the Strip. The brash, loud braying of his rhythm and blues catalog (and mind you, they are big hits everywhere it seems) which albeit rocketed him to the big time, is overbearing to a captive audience. In a lounge, one can up and go -- fast. But in a dining room, the table sitter must stay, look and listen the thing out. Which is perhaps why Presley received applause on his opening show edged with polite inference only. For the teen-agers, the long, tall Memphis lad is a whiz; for the average Vegas spender or showgoer, a bore. His musical sound with a combo of three is uncouth, matching to a great extent the lyric content of his nonsensical songs.

Vegas Daze and Nights

By Ralph Pearl : Las Vegas SUN : May 1, 1956

The Shake and Shiver Kid: Now that I have finally found out what an Elvis Presley really is, I wonder if I will ever be happy again. You see, a Elvis Presley is an intense young singer who opened at the New Frontier a week ago with a very nervous guitar. And though the lad probably has yet to experience his first shave, he and his trio of instrumentalists have already sold a million records of their first recording. Presley sings and I try to recall Burl Ives, Harry Belafonte and Johny Ray. Mind you now, I'm not saying he compares with either of the illustrious gentlemen named. However, he doesn't sound too unlike those lads.

So there stands Elvis Presley, who probably has yet to blow out his 21st birthday candles, drink his first beer or kiss his first girl, the absolute rage of the juke box business and several million youngsters who compare him to the great in this unique field of hysterical rock 'n' roll rhythm. And as he stands up there clutching guitar, he shakes and shivers like he is suffering from itchy underwear and hot shoes.

There is no doubt, I say to myself, because my wife seems to be pretty much interested in Presley's gymnastics on stage, this is the beginning of another craze. And a cold sweat pops out on my forehead as I full realize that my missus is now on the brink of a shopping spree for Presley records.

Seriously, however, I'd like to see this Presley in a hotel lounge. He would probably be the nearest threat to Louis Prima and his group the two years that Luigi has dominated Vegas lounge entertainment. However, I don't imagine Presley's board of strategy is listening to the weak chirpings of lounge talent buyers. Especially when millions of youngsters, who buy Presley's records, are forming long lines outside of the music shops of America and Canada. Yes siree, the lad with the sleepy eyes and angry fingers on his electric guitar may crave a steady diet of fried pork chops, but the youngsters also crave a steady diet of Elvis Presley.

And right now the lad is hotter than a cauldron of boiling oil. What is his favorite tune, you ask? That is easy. It's the sound of the hard and shiny cash registers which have his name on them.

A cat talks back : Letter to the editor : Las Vegas SUN : May 12, 1956

Mostly about Mr. Elvis Presley, Esq.

By Ed Jameson : 805 Grant, Las Vegas

I will try to bravely carry on after reading the report of the SUN's police reporter concerning Mr. Elvis Presley now holding forth at the Venus Room of the Hotel New Frontier. I'm not after the teen-age vote or to sell Portia's pound of flesh. I come not to bury Caesar, but to praise him. It is a weakness of the mind to preconceive a judgment of your thought before the act is done. And so McDuff, lay on.

Despite the acid hemlock broth stirred by the Sun's copy boy methinks Mr. Presley will survive and live to sing some more. Not that for many moons to come his name will be well known about the countryside.

Perhaps this cat should have studied grand opera, the fiddle or just be satisfied herding a truck. I don't join that school of thought. He's happy and he's making lots of other people happy doing just what he is doing naturally. You see, he's a natural. Any dope knows what a natural is.

This cat Presley is neat, well gassed and has the heart.

His vocal is real and he has yet to go for an open field. He is hep to the motion of sound with a retort that is tremendous. These squares who like to detract their imagined misvalues can only size a note creeping upstairs after dark. This cat can throw 'em downstairs or even out the window. He has it ... Presley has a depth of tone that can sink deeper than a well. He can wilt into a whisper faster than a gossipmonger can throw down a free drink. He is classier than a new sock and a skinner on the strings. He really makes them cry. He's a smooth cast, cool and crazy with new stuff. His sound is dreamy and unique, loaded with mystery.

So settle down dad. Take your cow straight. Wipe the blood out of your eye. I still got your coat. Music shines in anything that sounds. Youth is an exuberant stage of life with the top down.

Presley's voice is that of American youth looking at the moon and wondering how long it will take to get there. He is not a Rock 'n' Roller nor is he a cowboy singer. He is something new coming over the horizon all by himself and he deserves his ever-growing audience. Nobody should miss him. Parents would do well to take their children to hear him. It would be a good way to get to know and understand your own kids.

Yep, this boy's sails are set and he's got wind. Good luck boy and the best of everything.

I hope they hold you over! After all ten million cats can't be wrong.

Article and Photos Elvis Presley at the New Frontier Hotels' Venus Room 1956

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Elvis Presley Video Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD

Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.

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The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.

Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.