It was backstage at the Goodwyn Institute Auditorium just before the Saturday Night Jamboree and the joint was jumpin’.
Off in a corner, I was waiting for my turn to go on, messing around with a few songs I’d picked up last week. I hit a final note, heard a cough, and looked up into a crowd of musicians that had gathered around me.
“You here to play that?” Inquired one of them.
“No, sir. Gonna do a gospel number.” I responded.
“Licks like that, you should be playin’ rock ‘n roll.” He said.
“My momma don’t like of me playing any of that. Gospel’s what she’s got in mind for me.”
“You’re momma don’t like it?” Scoffed a fat blues singer. “Pfft, if my boy could play like that I wouldn’t care two shakes ‘bout what he played cause I’d be gettin’ rich offa him!”
The whole group erupted into laughter. I mustered my best polite chuckle.
“Well, why don’t you pull up a chair and play with us a spell. I don’t see your momma around, and I don’t think anyone’ll tell.” An ebon-skinned guitar player said, then asked, “What’s your name, son?”
“Elvis, sir. Elvis Presley.”
The Saturday Night Jamboree was a stageshow that ran from 1953-1954 in downtown Memphis, helmed by an former country music disc jockey. The show itself was notable for giving lots of new artist their break into the business. But, what was more notable, was the cross-pollination of musical styles that occurred backstage. Gospel, blues, and country were mixed together in a new sound that would be called rockabilly.