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10 Year Old Elvis Comes Fifth in Talent Show (And Ends Up With A Spanking)

Updated: Apr 18

It's October 3, 1945 and a 10yr old Elvis Aaron Presley stands on a chair at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show, held in Tupelo and sings “Old Shep”. The show was broadcast over WELO Radio, though no recording of it now exists.

Some reports say that he came second and won a prize of five dollars in fair-ride tickets. Interviewed years later, however, Elvis recalled that he came fifth and his most vivid memory of the day was receiving “a whipping from my Mama” for misbehaving.

His teacher, Mrs. Oleta Grimes, had arranged this, after she heard Elvis sing that morning at school. Elvis sung “Old Shep”, while standing on a chair and without any accompaniment.

A photograph taken of some of the contestants bears out his recollection of the result. Wearing glasses, Elvis is standing empty-handed next to two other youngsters, both proudly clutching a trophy.

His next known public performance was on 6 November 1948 when he played guitar and sang Leaf On A Tree as a farewell to his fellow students at Milam Junior School in Tupelo. The poverty-stricken Presleys then packed their belongings into a trunk, strapped it to the roof of their 1939 Plymouth car, and headed for Memphis, Tennessee, in search of a better life.

Ten-year-old Elvis, second from right and wearing glasses, with talent show winners

Despite his notorious shyness, Elvis could still be persuaded to perform. In 1953, he nervously took the stage at a student talent show at Humes High School in Memphis, marking another step in his education. To his surprise, he received thunderous applause, winning the competition and even performing an encore.

Shortly thereafter, he visited the Memphis Recording Service, where the Sun label was based, and recorded a private demo acetate of “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin” for about four dollars. Curious about his recorded voice, Elvis gave the acetate to his mother as a birthday gift.

When Sam Phillips, the studio's owner, heard the recording, he was intrigued and called the young Elvis in so he could hear more. I've no idea what became of Elvis after that, likely just disappeared into obscurity.....



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