ELVIS PRESLEY MUSEUM

1956 New Frontier Hotel

Elvis Presley's Signed 1956 New Frontier Hotel contract. April 23 - May 6
Elvis Presley's Historical first appearance in Last Vegas.

 
Elvis signed this William Morris Agency contract twice, in his name Elvis Presley and also his initial' EP for his two-week engagement at the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas. This contract was also signed by his employer representing the New Frontier Hotel.

Elvis signed this contract on the 16th April 1956, the engagement was at the New Frontier Hotel, Las Vegas Nevada. Dates of employment Two (2) weeks commencing April 23, 1956. Hours of employment, Seven (7) days weekly, fifteen shows weekly (Total of 30 shows/appearances) Type of employment, Stage show.

Elvis was paid seven thousand five hundred ($7,500.00) Dollars per week.
Fifteen thousand ($15,000.00) in total.

In addition to the compensation provided herein, Employee shall receive one complimentary small suite and one twin bedroom at Employer's sole cost and expense during engagement. Employee shall receive extra added attraction billing in 100% size type in all advertising, publicity, programs, displays, lights, etc.



A huge display advertising, In Person ELVIS PRESLEY





Col booked Elvis, Scotty Moore, Bill Black and D.J Fontana for a two week engagement. The Col would call his boy the 'Atomic Powered Singer' 
 
1956 the year everything happened on a completely different level for Elvis. This was still the early part of 1956 and Presley was on the verge of greatness. The Colonel had wanted to get Elvis to Vegas since the summer of 1955. Up until now Elvis had performed in front of screaming teenagers but things would be different in Las Vegas.
 
Col Tom Parker was in negotiations as early as July of 1955 and let Elvis then manager Bob Neal know that he could set Elvis in late September/early October of 1955 in a club for two weeks in Las Vegas, he mentioned, "that they do not know Elvis there but the owner is a good friend of mine and, I want to expose Elvis to see what we can do with him there. This would be a tremendous showcase and I will have to be there myself to try to set package for this deal, if I can get it the price must be right as he has no sale value there other than my selling his talents. He must prove his worth after appearing. If I can get him in."
 
The Col knew there were influential people in Las Vegas and as a middle aged man himself wanted to connect with the powerful there and he could do this through promoting Elvis there. He wanted to get a foothold in Las Vegas and therefore set up Elvis to perform a Two week engagement at the New Frontier Hotel in the Venus room. 


The Venus room





Compared to the usual hysteria, Elvis has lukewarm acceptance, the middle aged people were not ready for him, like the teenagers were. Elvis was very raw, funny and sarcastic, it was a long two weeks.
 
At the time the type of people going to Las Vegas were mainly middle aged and would go there to gamble and catch a show, sometimes the show's would be secondary to them, just background entertainment as they were eating or chatting. While the audience liked and appreciated Elvis and politely applauded, he was never going to receive the usual hysteria he was now accustomed to. He did not feel a connection with the audience like he did with the teenagers. He is not exactly what the adult audience of Vegas gamblers relates to very well. Many teenagers did find a way of meeting Elvis during the two week period and on Saturday 28th April the Colonel arranged for a teenager's matinee for $1, which included admittance to the show and a free soft drink, it was jam packed with everyone screaming and hollering. Elvis was happy to perform for them, chat and sign his autograph for them. During these two weeks of shows for Elvis at the New Frontier Hotel in the Venus room, the single Heartbreak Hotel and the album Elvis Presley both hit number one on the Billboard pop charts. Elvis' fame would grow dramatically.
 
Elvis' closing performance on May 6, 1956 was recorded and initially released on "Elvis Aron Presley," the 8-record box set released in connection with Elvis' 25th Anniversary with RCA in November 1980. (They performed "Heartbreak Hotel," "Long Tall Sally," "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Money Honey." The entire performance lasts just over 13 minutes and during it Elvis announces that Ray Bolger and Phil Silvers are in the audience. The crowd seems to enjoy his joke introduction of song titles like "Get out of the Stables Grandma you're too old to be Horsin' Around" and he asks Freddy Martin if he knows "Take back your Golden Garter, my leg is turnin' green".)
 
Though he would later visit often and make movies there it would be 13 years before Elvis would perform on stage in Las Vegas again in 1969.


 












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Elvis Presley, New Singing Find, Booked Into New Frontier
Las 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.

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
Las Vegas Sun
Bud Lilly (New Frontier Hotel publicity director)
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.

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.


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

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.

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.

Ed Jameson
805 Grant
Las Vegas

          

The teenagers found a way to meet with Elvis in Las Vegas. Elvis meeting, chatting and signing autographs for his teenage fans.