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January 8, 2023

October 3, 1945: Elvis Presley Made His First-Ever Public Appearance at Age 10

On October 3, 1945, Elvis Presley made his first-ever public appearance at age 10 in a talent contest at the Mississippi Alabama Dairy Show at the Fairgrounds in the middle of town, singing “Old Shep” while standing on a chair to reach the microphone.

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

Since Elvis didn’t begin playing guitar for another year, he sang the tune without accompaniment. The show is broadcast over WELO Radio, and Elvis won fifth prize, receiving $5.00 in fair ride tickets.

He later remembered the day as a bitter sweet one: “I wore glasses, no music, and I won – I think it was – fifth place. I got a whipping the same day. My mother whipped me for something. Destroyed my ego completely.” His spanking was likely for climbing on one of the rides that his mother Gladys had warned him against riding.

His next known public performance was on November 6, 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.


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