1955 Color Photo from The Louisiana Hayride
Scotty, Sonny Trammel, Elvis and Bill at the Lousiana Hayride January
Photo © Nick Gulli courtesy JohnGriswold.com
Recently I was searching for something online and came across this picture.
At first I thought that someone had taken one of Joey Kent's photos from the
Louisiana Hayride Archives and colorized it. I posted about it in a few Elvis newsgroups
and even sent it to Scotty, but Joey said he has never seen that one before. In
fact most people haven't and it created quite the stir.
I emailed John S. Griswold,
the contact on the site where the picture was. John is a professional event
photographer in Colorado. Apparently John's stepsons'
grandfather, Nick Gulli, shot it with 35mm color slide film back in 1955. Joey
Kent has several photos from the same night and almost the same vantage point
and he believes the date to be January 22, 1955. John said Nick snuck up 20
rows, kneeled down, took a "shot in the dark" and got lucky. One shot, no mic in
the mouth, great exposure.
Color photography at that time was generally confined to use in news correspondence. Though
as early as 1945 Kodachrome color slide photography was beginning to get popular
with amateur photographers.1 This is probably the only color photo in existence
of the bands performance at the Louisiana Hayride and definitely the earliest.
Scotty, Sonny Elvis and Bill January 22, 1955
Photo © courtesy of Louisiana
Hayride Archives - J. Kent
"Back in 1954 and the early part of 1955 Elvis was often
backed at the Louisiana Hayride by Sonny Tremmel on steel-guitar and Leon Post
on piano or by Jimmy Day on steel-guitar and Floyd Cramer on piano. Drummers
were not so popular in country-music so D.J. Fontana sat behind the curtain
playing his drums. It wasn't until the end of 1955 that he moved in front of the
curtain at the Hayride. Joey Kent's Hayride-book mentions that on that date,
January 22, 1955, Sonny Trammel was backing Elvis for the first time that year."2
The photo gives a great sense of the flamboyant colors worn by Elvis at the
time, the instruments and a whole new depth to the colors on stage there. John
said the 35mm slide is un retouched and has been sitting in a safe deposit box
for 30 years. Prints are made from a 30 megabyte scan of the slide and he makes
8x10 prints available
sale. The proceeds currently are split between Nick and John's son's college
fund but if they sell enough of them they hope to donate a portion to the Children's
Hospital in Denver.
Scotty, Sonny, Elvis and Bill (cropped) January 22, 1955
Photo © Nick Gulli courtesy of John Griswold.com
I've been advised that even though
they may own the copyright to the photo,
EPE, Inc. has a copyright to
the image of Elvis, so legally to sell reprints they'll need an agreement. They
understand that most people like John don't intend harm and will just have him
get under an agreement so they know how/where the image is used. Hopefully this
will happen and John can continue to offer this rare photo to fans.
James V. Roy
June 9, 2006
You can read more about the bands history at the Louisiana Hayride here and about Scotty's return
there in 1994 here