61 Years Ago: Elvis Presley Bombs on the Grand Ole Opry
Elvis Presley wasn’t swayed by discouragement, and it’s a good thing. The singer made his first — and last — Grand Ole Opry appearance on this day (Oct. 2) in 1954 … and it didn’t go as well as he had hoped.
The music icon performed on the famous stage in the very early part of his career, debuting his high-energy brand of rockabilly with “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” But his innovative music and gyration-filled performance were not received well at the conservative establishment; one of the officials there reportedly suggested that Presley not quit his day job driving trucks. The future legend swore never to return.
The lack of interest from the Grand Ole Opry may have been a blessing in disguise. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll went to the Opry’s biggest competitor, the live radio show Louisiana Hayride, only two weeks later, and signed a contract to make 52 Saturday night appearances on the show, helping launch his legendary career.
Presley went on to sell what RCA has estimated at more than one billion albums worldwide, with many of those sales occurring after his untimely death in 1977; the RIAA has certified sales of more than 134 million in the U.S. alone. A total of 149 Presley tunes landed in the Billboard Hot 100 chart, with 18 going all the way to No. 1.