Breckenridge, TX High School Auditorium
The Ben Hall Film

Breckenridge High School designed in the early 20th century by W. G. Clarkson and Co. Architects
Yearbook photo courtesy Wiley Clarkson

For quite awhile portions of Ben Hall's 8mm film of Elvis, Scotty and Bill, along with others, have been circulating since they debuted initially in a BBC documentary.  Overtime for any one of several reasons the dates and locations of the footage has been mistaken and credited as being shot together. Ben Hall himself in the documentary mentioned seeing Elvis for the first time in a show on a Sunday afternoon which, taken out of context, made one think he was referencing the film.1

Breckenridge, TX High School Buckaroos on stage in the Auditorium - 1955
Photo courtesy 1955 Buckaroo Yearbook

Recently we we able to finally identify and establish portions taken in Lubbock with Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and others as being at Fair Park Coliseum, and to at least establish that the film with Elvis, previously thought to be at the Cotton Club, was not.

Breckenridge, TX High School Auditorium stage - 1955
Photo courtesy 1955 Buckaroo Yearbook

Today though, I was finally able to establish the proper date and location of the footage with Elvis, Scotty and Bill, which also include shots of Ben himself, along with Onie Wheeler, Fonda Wallace* and others.  The film was taken April 13, 1955 at the Breckenridge High School Auditorium.  The relevant ads and articles that ran in the local paper, Breckenridge American, are included and transcribed here.

Breckenridge American ad - April 12, 1955
courtesy Francesc Lopez, Elvis in Concert

Bop Singer At School Expected To Draw Crowd

A large crowd is expected at the Breckenridge High School Auditorium Wednesday night to hear Elvis Presley, “20-year-old bop-hillbilly singer,” and a host of other western entertainers from this area in a two hour show.
Presley, who first gained fame on the Louisiana Hayride, is to appear with his musical “sidekicks,” Scotty Moore, who plays the guitar, and Bill Black, who lays the bass violin.
Advance tickets were to go off sale at the Harmony House at 4 p. m. and the ticket sales at the auditorium were to open at 6 p. m. at $1.25 for adults and $.75 for children under twelve. Near record crowds have attended the Presley shows in this area with many being turned away on numerous occasions, it was reported.
A recording manager discovered Presley by accident, upon hearing him making a personal record. Hits of the young singer, who combines country music with bop, include “That’s All right Mama,” “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” “I don’t Care If The Sun don’t Shine,” and “Good Rockin; Tonight.”
Another featured guest on the show is to be Onie Wheeler, Columbia record star and author of “Run ‘Em Off.”
Performers scheduled to appear from this area, who are well-known to most most TV viewers, are Fonda Wallace of Munday, eleven year old TV and stage star; “Pretty-Little” Dee-Don, who appears over KRBC-TV in Abilene; Dean Beard of Abilene; Ben and Denna Hall of Vernon, with Ben Hall being a former Breckenridge resident; and Weldon Myrick of Jayton, 16 year old steel guitar player, singer and song writer.

Breckenridge American - April 13, 1955 courtesy Francesc Lopez, Elvis in Concert

Elvis, Scotty and Bill at the Breckenridge High School Auditorium - April 13, 1955
Film © Ben Hall

Some Boys Would Like Private Meeting
Singer Causes Girls To Near Swoon-Not The Boys
American Staff

In a pink Cadillac he blew into town and appeared before a near capacity crowd of teenagers and adults at the Breckenridge High School auditorium Wednesday night.
He is Elvis Presley, the 20 year old “bop-hillbilly” singer with the ducktail haircut and long sideburns, who is scoring with audiences everywhere he appears. And Breckenridge was no exception for the audience, composed mostly of teenage girls, loudly applauded and near swooned with his every appearance on the stage. Following the show the young star was rushed by autograph seekers.
A number of the males in the audience viewed the singer’s stage antics differently, however. Various statements marked their distaste and one was heard to remark, “I’d like to meet him out behind the barn,” while another added, “I’d better not see any girlfriend of mine going up after autographs from that singer?”

Onie Wheeler and Ben Hall backstage in Breckenridge, TX - April 13, 1955
Capture © Ben Hall

Presley and his “orchestra” composed of Scotty Moore, guitar player, and Bill Black, bass violin player, didn’t make an appearance on stage until well into the middle of the two-hour stage show featuring western entertainers from this area and Onie Wheeler, Columbia record star, from Tennessee.

Elvis onstage in Breckenridge in "Apricot shirt and black jacket with orange inserts" - April 13, 1955
Capture © Ben Hall

The “side-kicks” of the “sensation” singer wore charcoal trousers and vivid orange shirts while Presley was attired in apricot or orange slacks and sport shirt. A black sports jacket further added a “cat-look” to his appearance by having inserts of orange in the back of the jacket.
In addition to doing several numbers that he has not recorded Presley complied with the crowd’s wishes and gave his version of That’s All right Mama.” Which gave him his start being his first hit released on records, “I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine,” “Tweedle Dee” and ending with “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”

Fonda Wallace backstage in Breckenridge - April 13, 1955
Capture © Ben Hall

Other entertainers from this area appearing on the show were Fonda Wallace of Munday, “Pretty-little” Dee-Don and Dean Beard, who appear regularly over KRBC-TV in Abilene, Ben and Denna Hall of Vernon, and Weldon Myrick of Jayton, plus a number of entertainers from Stephens County.
P. S.—Girls, Presley left Thursday morning via his pink Cadillac wearing pink slacks and an orchid sports shirt!

Breckenridge American - April 14, 1955 courtesy Francesc Lopez, Elvis in Concert, and The Portal to Texas History

Preparations for the 1957 Homecoming Queen on the Breckenridge, TX High School Auditorium stage - 1957
Photo courtesy 1957 Buckaroo Yearbook

Student Assembly in the Breckenridge, TX High School Auditorium - 1959
Photo courtesy 1959 Buckaroo Yearbook

The boys returned to Breckenridge two months later, on June 10th for an appearance at the American Legion.

Aerial view of the Breckenridge, TX High School - 1959
Photo courtesy 1959 Buckaroo Yearbook

One fan recalling that night told us:

My name is Sandra Sheppard Lewis, this is unbelievable - thank you so much! I was there and totally remember that night. I was class of '60 but didn't graduate - left in middle of junior year to get married, again.

The auditorium was located immediately inside the front door going in across the hall. I remember that one of our senior girls, Buckaroo Queen I think, had a date with him. I remember he parked his pink Cadillac behind the high school. All the girls were screaming and swooning - all the boys were mad! 

We stood in line on the stage afterwards with pictures of Elvis we had bought for him to autograph. Unfortunately - I don't still have mine, but I still have my little autograph book with Elvis, Scotty & Bill Black's autographs - one of my treasures! I haven't located it, I know it is in my cedar chest but guess I am going to have to really go through it to find it.

Sandra Sheppard Lewis
June 1, 2017

Contemporary satellite image of  Breckenridge, TX High School campus showing new additions and renovations
Photo courtesy Bing Maps

In the early 1970s the High School in Breckenridge was expanded with at least a new main building and by the 80s the old main building was torn down and a new modern auditorium was built in its place.

The newer Breckenridge, TX High School
Photo courtesy Breckenridge High School FB

1 according to Two Nights in Texas by James V. Roy and Trevor Cajiao for Now Dig This May 2017

* initially the girl depicted in red was thought to possibly have been Dee Don Hobbs (nee Reese) from Merkel, but has since been identified thanks to Larry Beauchamp as Fonda Wallace from Munday, TX.  (June, 7, 2017)

page added May 31, 2017


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