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On December 4, 1956, Marilyn Evans went in and out of Rock’n’Roll history.

 That was the day that Elvis Presley stopped by the Sun Studio in Memphis and recorded a jam session with Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. 

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Historians have long believed that Evans was also there because she was dating Presley at the time and a voice assumed to be hers appears on the recording. 

In addition, the photographer of a local newspaper captured an image of the brunette with the famous foursome, which the newspaper called “The Million Dollar Quartet”.

‘…that adorable creature sitting on top of the piano,’ the caption read in the next day’s newspaper, ‘…is Marilyn Evans, dancer at the New Frontier in Las Vegas.’ 

Invited to Elvis’s house until Friday. 

Unlike other Elvis exes, Evans didn’t make a career out of recounting her experiences with The King, and Elvis fans have long wondered what happened to her after her week in Memphis. 

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When a promoter called Marilyn Evans in the summer of 1956 and asked her to join the choir at the New Frontier Casino in Las Vegas, she could barely contain herself: This teenager from Fresno, California, lived to dance.

 “…I thought it was probably the most sophisticated thing that had ever happened in the entire world,” he said last week with an easy laugh. 

Then came Las Vegas, a relatively innocent place where dancers enjoyed good pay ($135 a week), sports cars, and evenings with stars like Mickey Rooney and George Chakiris. 

“…it was very exciting: two shows a night, seven days a week,” he said. 

‘…I loved it’.

Between shows, the dancers would gather in an employee cafeteria inside the casino. It was there that Elvis walked in one night and sat at his table. ‘…wow,’ thought Evans. ‘…he’s beautiful, really, really.’

Within an hour, Elvis had handed Evans a note scrawled on the back of a napkin. It said, ‘…Can I go on a date with you tomorrow night or before I go?’ Evans nodded excitedly and shocked. And so, for the next two weeks, she and Elvis explored Las Vegas, driving around, hanging out, and hanging out at the casinos. 

(Neither of them enjoyed gambling, he said.)

When asked why he chose her, he laughs and shrugs. ‘…I think he probably liked it because I was respectable,’ he said. ‘I’m still respectable, you know?’ And what did the parents of this respectable teenager think about her relationship with the father of Parental Enemy No. 1 Evans? Evans’s father had died when she was in high school, but to avoid any problems, she wrote her mother a letter that began: ‘…don’t freak out, but I’ve met Elvis Presley.’

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Mom freaked out a bit, until Evans put the young star on the phone. ‘…he seems like a very nice person,’ his mother, L.E. Evans, The Fresno Bee reported in December 1956, after news of the relationship leaked. Like Evans, Elvis was also performing at the New Frontier, his first Las Vegas engagement, but when he left, the pair kept in touch by phone. Then one day, he called Evans and asked him to visit him and stay at his home in Memphis. She said yes.


And so, 52 years later, what do you remember most about the house? In Memphis, Elvis and Evans spent their days riding motorcycles, eating out, and watching rented movies at Elvis’s house, a luxury the girl from Fresno could hardly believe. I was relaxed. He was comfortable there,’ Knowles-Riehl recalled. And at night she slept… ‘not with him’. He was extremely honorable.

On December 4, 1956, the couple, along with some of Elvis’ friends, toured Memphis as usual. But on that day, Elvis stopped at Sun, where he had made his first record just three years earlier. It was there, for the next few hours, that fate (and a tape recorder) would allow a glimpse into the musical passions of these four future legends, as they played Gospel, Country and blues. It was a seminal session in the origins of Rock’n’Roll…and one that Knowles-Riehl barely remembers.

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‘…I remember the outfit she was wearing was all wool,’ she said with an apologetic shrug. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then’. The fact that the session meant so little to her might help explain why she said she felt fine when the relationship fizzled out a few weeks later. “…I always preferred classical music,” he explained.

“…we were into different things, not that one was better than the other. It was great, I loved it, it was terribly exciting and wonderful, but I had other things I wanted to do,” said Knowles-Riehl, who, the following year , began attending the University of Utah. When asked why she never aired her brush with stardom, Knowles-Riehl said she never thought of it among the highlights of her life.

Instead, she prefers to speak enthusiastically about her two husbands, the first of whom has died, her son, and a career as a dancer that includes 13 years as director of the Fresno Ballet. She also continues to dance, thanks to the fitness of a 40-year-old woman, and runs her own belly dancing company. Until last week, Knowles-Riehl had never heard of that day’s recording session in Memphis.

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But when she did, she quickly dismissed the popular theory that she was the one who requested the song ‘Farther Along’. ‘…that’s not me,’ he said, as the female voice on the recording speaks with an obvious accent. “…or I’d learn a southern accent so fast,” he said, laughing. And yet, listening to the rest of that day’s session album, Knowles-Riehl stumbled upon another female voice, this one requesting ‘End of the Road’.

‘…that’s me!’ he said, his big brown eyes widening. “…it’s like from another world,” she said of listening to herself, “out of body.” With her headphones still on, Knowles-Riehl appeared at that moment as she does in the photograph from ’56: her face bright and flushed, wondering what could be better than this… 

Source: Elvis memories for fans forever

Information provided by  Elvis Shop Argentina

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