Sunday, August 5, 1956. Tampa (Florida). Fort Homer Hesterly Armory. 

Before Elvis’ first performance in Tampa, reporter Ann Rowe, a columnist for the St. Petersburg Times, gave Elvis an extensive interview. 

Elvis was very affectionate with Ann, but as we can see in the photos she was also delighted, and the affection was mutual.

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Needless to say , unlike most articles written about him at this stage of his career , the reporter gave him the thumbs up and made an incredible statement for the times : ” Presley is the most important thing in the world of entertainment . show today.” 

Check out the iconic interview in full below.


Dressed as dapper as a cat in black skinny pants, a striped belt, a blue shirt, a white tie, a maroon jacket, and white shoes, the king of rock ‘n roll grabbed a broom and began sweeping his dressing room.

This was my fabulous introduction to the four-caddie Elvis Presley whose reputation had given this reporter reason to “proceed with caution” in his presence. However , there is no need to be alarmed , as Presley willingly posed for press photos , answered questions without hesitation , and seemed like a normal guy to us during the hour we spent with him in his dressing room before his first appearance at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory . in Tampa yesterday. Presley will perform at the Florida Theater here Tuesday for three performances.

Seeming a little flustered , Elvis swept the floor clean of butts and then turned the broom into a microphone , singing ” Don’t Be Cruel ” into its handle . Putting the broom aside, she walked to where it was only slightly cooler, since the heat in her dressing room was stifling. He surveyed the curio seekers lined up at the door, laughed and shouted: “I’ll be right there with you!” with no obvious southern accent.

Elvis gave me the impression that he had been happy going to the door and talking to his fans. He signed autographs for those who were allowed to speak with him and seemed to enjoy playing with a couple of children who were nearby and who watched the commotion, eyes wide with amazement.


Returning to his dressing room, Elvis grabbed his leather-covered guitar, plucked a few strings, and began to sing “Don’t Be Cruel” one more time…his favorite song he’d ever recorded because “it means the most to me.” me “…” He was soon joined by the Jordanaires, the guys who backed Elvis on many of his records. Elvis’s nervousness apparently disappeared. He was doing what he loves best…singing. guitar and when we asked him for an interview, he was more than willing to take our questions.

When asked what he thought of those who imitate him, he said: “I think it’s good. It shows that I’m doing well enough, otherwise why would they want to imitate me?” 

Naturally , we asked him if he was interested in girls . To this he replied with a wink , a smile and a simple ” yes ” , saying that he had ” a firm one at some point ” , but he has not given much thought to marriage or the type of girl he would choose .

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When asked about his recent movie deal with Hal Wallis, Elvis responded, “I’m not going to stop singing for acting. I think I’ll do one movie a year, and whether I like it or not is up to me.” whatever you do.” Elvis also said that his on-screen favorites are the late James Dean and Marlon Brando. 

-What will you do when this “fashion” of rock and roll passes? “-I’ll probably sit and think about what I once had…no regrets. Right now, I don’t think about that,” Presley replied.

Apparently , Presley was not pleased with his highly publicized performance on the Steve Allen Show , when he appeared in a tuxedo suit and was forced to stand still while performing . “All I thought about that suit,” Elvis said, “was take it off.”


He has no problem with the critics who have criticized him since he first won not only the admiration, but also the hearts of almost every teenager in the country.

 “Those people have a job to do just like me. I think when you’re in this business you should expect that kind of treatment. Some people wouldn’t pay a dime to see me. But as long as my records keep selling and these people keep coming to hear me sing, I’m happy ” .

Elvis is stunned by his sudden success, but enjoys every minute of it. He feels bad because his busy schedule brings him home only once a month. He feels very close to his parents who live in the $40,000 air-conditioned ranch house he bought for them in Memphis. He says his mother and father encourage his career, feel he is not contributing to juvenile delinquency, and accept his absence from home as natural.

“I used to travel by plane all the time,” Presley replied when asked how he traveled, “but once I was scared of flying, so now I travel here overland by car.” 

Elvis did not arrive in one of his four Cadillacs, instead arriving in a sleek white $10,000 Lincoln Continental that he bought in Miami because he “couldn’t appear on the Ed Sullivan Show if he wasn’t driving his sponsor’s product, could he?” Elvis said.


Like a little kid with a new toy , he raised the hood of his latest purchase , showed the engine to several onlookers , and when asked how fast the car could go , he laughed ” You mean how fast it can FLY ? ” lovingly the hood ornament said, “This thing throws $350!” 

In addition to his cars, Elvis is an avid fan of motorcycles, though he has little time to drive his own.

Our interview stopped when a knock on the door informed Presley that it was time for him to continue. 

He thanked me for taking the time to speak with him and hurried towards the crowd that was eagerly awaiting his appearance.

He was greeted with deafening shrieks from the audience of some 1,000 teenagers, oddly sprinkled generously with adults.


Now Presley was in his glory. He rocked and rolled through seven numbers , laughing , winking , pointing and squirming in the familiar Presley manner . While his fans screamed, cried, pulled their hair, covered their ears, jumped, clapped and laughed. Elvis showed his great showmanship. It was more than obvious that he loved every scream and scream and…every minute on that stage. He struggled with the microphone, breaking two in his frenzy, and finally, with sweat pouring down his face, he practically ripped his jacket off and performed two more numbers.

He may be an ex-trucker from Mississippi, a rockbilly whose “gimmick” has made him successful, but the ovation he received yesterday proves that Presley is the biggest thing in show business today. 

Article by Anne Rowe © St. Petersburg Times. Courtesy of the St. Petersburg Public Library. and scottymoore.net

Information provided by ELVIS. El Chico de Tupelo



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