Elvis Presley in Miami
In early August of 1956, The Olympia Theater features one of the fastest rising talents in music and a legend in the making. A twenty-one-year-old Elvis Presley would not only pack the theater for seven shows in two days but will also create memories that will last a lifetime for those in attendance. Elvis Presley arrived in Miami on August 3rd, 1956 and performs at the Olympia, now Gusman Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets were $1.50. Presley plays seven sold-out performances over two days. During one of the performances fans had torn his pants to shreds. 1956 is a breakthrough year for Elvis, he had his first session with RCA. He records Heartbreak Hotel, Blue Suede Shoes and Hound Dog. He also begins shooting his first movie, “Love Me Tender”.
The Olympia Theater
The Olympia had the perfect acoustics for a show. At first, it was a venue for silent movies. From 1929 to 1954, it featured vaudeville live performances. In 1954, it is converted back to a movie theater. For much of the twentieth century, the Olympia was one of many theaters located on Flagler Street. At the time it was announced that the young up and coming singer was going to perform in August of 1956. The Olympia Theater became the center of the world for the teenagers of Miami.
Elvis Tour – First Stop Miami
Elvis performs seven shows in two days. Which is quite hectic for a musician to do! Once the news gets out that Elvis is in South Florida, The frenzy and excitement could hardly be contained. According to the Miami Herald, fans began to line up outside the theater prior to midnight on Thursday, and the line went around the block by noon on the day of the show.
The Shows at the Olympia
Elvis is scheduled to go on stage for the first show by 3:30pm on Friday, August 3rd. At about 4pm, Elvis strolls on stage wearing a lavender jacket, black pants and white shoes. Immediately, the crowd could barely contain themselves. The excitement escalated the first time Elvis went into his patented dance moves. Elvis protected by a band of Miami Policemen. As they witnessed the crowd’s reaction, one officer shook his head and said he hadn’t seen anything like this since Sinatra came on the scene. By the end of the last show on Friday, Elvis made his way to his car only to find it covered in love notes and phone numbers written in lipstick. His lavender Lincoln was only a couple of weeks old. The next morning, Elvis went to Miami Lincoln Mercury and traded in his vandalized car for a new Lincoln Continental Mark II.
Elvis would cut back on touring and live performances to give priority to making movies and recording. The Florida tour is his last tour before the true beginning of his acting career. Elvis would pass away on August 16th, 1977 at the age of 42. Although the nation will remember Elvis as the King of Rock and Roll, those who attended his shows at the Olympia Theater will always remember the two days Elvis performed in downtown Miami in 1956.
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A.F. Archive via Alamy- taken May 1958 – BPTXD9