Municipal Memorial Auditorium
Shreveport , LA


Shreveport's Municipal Memorial Auditorium
Postcard courtesy Encyclopedia of Louisiana

Designed by the architectural firm of Jones, Roessle, Olschner & Wiener, Shreveport's Municipal Memorial Auditorium, often called, "The "Muni," was constructed at 705 Grand Avenue by Ashton Glassell Co., Inc. in 1926 and completed in 1929. The building is said to be one of the south's largest examples of Art Deco and was constructed as a memorial to the servicemen of World War I. The front façade is intensively ornamented and features carved limestone and brick balconies flanked by two massive bas relief eagles clutching stylized swords which hold limestone banners with inscriptions reading: “The world must be made safe for democracy. Woodrow Wilson,” and “The work of righteousness shall be peace. Isaiah 37:17.1


The Municipal Memorial Auditorium at 705 Grand Ave. in Shreveport, LA - ca. 1929
Photo courtesy Robert Trudeau

The building is five stories high. On the first floor, the five-door main entrance leads to a large, rectangular, two-story lobby and entrance to the auditorium seating area. The 54 ft. high stage with proscenium arch is located directly across the vast, 6300 square foot arena and the auditorium with its mezzanine and balconies had an initial capacity of around 3,400 - 3,800. The second floor of the auditorium has meeting rooms and dressing rooms and the mezzanine level of the auditorium space. Balcony seating occupies most of the third level, which also includes a projection room and a ballroom is located on the fourth floor. The basement contains storerooms, equipment rooms, and public restrooms below the lobby.1


The stage and seating in the auditorium- from the balcony
Photo© courtesy of Louisiana Hayride Archives - J. Kent

Since its inception, the Auditorium has hosted public events that include musical concerts, theatrical productions, sporting events, Mardi Gras balls, ice skating shows, conventions, and the Shiner's circus. However, without argument, the most significant tenant of the building has been KWKH's Louisiana Hayride. The Louisiana Hayride was the product of Shreveport AM radio station KWKH, founded in 1922, and in 1924 the sole property of W. K. Henderson who purchased the call letters of his own initials, from a Georgia station. It entered the country music arena in late 1927 with the premiere of the Jimmie Davis Show, who himself later served two terms as the state's governor. In the 1930s the station was bought by the Shreveport Times and joined a network airing the music of live country bands and singers. It featured two barn dance format precursors to the Louisiana Hayride: the weekly Hillbilly Amateur Show on Sunday afternoons in 1936, which was replaced by the Saturday Night Roundup in 1940, both broadcast live from the stage of the Municipal Auditorium. World War II caused the cancellation of the Roundup.2


Hank Williams and the Hayride cast - Nov. 1948
Photo © courtesy of Louisiana Hayride Archives - J. Kent

The Hayride was referred to as the "Cradle of the Stars," for launching the careers of some of the greatest names in Country and Rockabilly music, often serving as sort of a farm system for its competitor, the Grand Ole Opry. Horace Logan was the show’s producer and chief emcee and was given free rein, and a small budget, by station manager, Henry Clay, to design a weekly country music show that would fill a three hour slot. It debuted on April 3, 1948 and featured the Bailes Brothers, Johnnie (Wright ) & Jack (Anglin) and the Tennessee Mountain Boys featuring Miss Kitty Wells, the Four Deacons, Curley Kinsey, the Tennessee Ridge Runners, Harmie Smith, the Ozark Mountaineers, the Mercer Brothers, and Tex Grimsley & the Texas Playboys. All acts hosted their own daily shows on KWKH and played personal appearances during the week. According to Johnny Wright and Kitty Wells, the show faltered at first, not really taking hold until August and the arrival of Hank Williams.2


Hank Williams on the Louisiana Hayride - Sep. 1952
Photo courtesy of Louisiana Hayride Archives - J. Kent

Hank Williams made his first appearance on August 7, 1948 and less than a year later, on June 11, 1949 premiered on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. On his last Hayride show before graduating to the Opry, Hank encored the song “Lovesick Blues” seven times. That year Frank Page joined the Hayride's team and an announcer. Kitty Wells, who went on to become the first female superstar of country music, stayed with the Hayride through 1951 but returned often in later years.2


Slim Whitman on the Louisiana Hayride - ca. 1955
Photo courtesy Encyclopedia of Louisiana

The Wilburn Brothers joined the cast in June of 1949 entertaining Hayride audiences for over two years and returning several times in the late fifties and early sixties for guest appearances. Slim Whitman joined the cast on April 7, 1950 followed by Webb Pierce a week later. Slim teamed up with musicians Hoot Raines and Curley Herndon and in 1953 his recording of “Indian Love Call” made him the first Hayrider to earn a gold record. He continued his tenure on the Hayride throughout the mid-fifties and returned many times to the Hayride in later years.2


The Maddox Brothers & Rose at the Hayride
Photo courtesy Caddo History

In October of 1951, Faron Young, a singer in Pierce's band, made his Hayride debut and was a regular in a few short months. Hayride staff pianist Floyd Cramer first gained notoriety as a member of Webb’s band but later went on to become a Nashville A-Teamer and one of the greatest session piano men in music history. The Maddox Brothers & Rose arrived at the Hayride in November of 1951. Johnny Horton would star on the Hayride off and on beginning in 1952 and on September 13th, “Slim Whitman Appreciation Night”, Hank Williams, made a surprise visit to the Hayride to announce his return the following week. He would only be with the Hayride though just over three months before he died en route to an engagement in Ohio on New Year's Eve.2

Jim Reeves, who had been working as a deejay with Tom Perryman in Gladewater, started as an announcer with KWKH in the fall of 1952 and was added to the Hayride as a “Junior Announcer” in December. He launched his career in January when a scheduled performer missed an appearance and in a matter of a couple of month was off for the big time. Like others, he would return several times throughout the fifties.2

On October 16, 1954, Elvis, Scotty and Bill made their first appearance on the Hayride. Like the Maddox Brothers and Rose before them, they were one of the very few acts that made their appearance on the Opry first (see The Hillbilly Cat).  Back in Memphis, the Commercial Appeal had announced:

THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL, MEMPHIS, THURSDAY MORNING
Presley To Sing On Radio Show Saturday Night
Elvis Presley, our homegrown hillbilly singer, is continuing his swift, steady stride toward national prominence in the rural rhythm field. Latest honor to come his way is as guest performer with the Louisiana Hayride, to be broadcast Saturday night over KWKH, Shreveport.
Louisiana Hayride is about the second or third most popular hillbilly program on the air. The tops is Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, which never takes anyone but long established stars in the country music field.
But Presley has already appeared on Grand Ole Opry - on Oct. 2 - and neither customer nor fellow performers wanted him to quit. It is unprecedented for Grand Ole Opry to take a performer on the basis of a single records, which is what Presley had until two weeks ago.
Presley, 19, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Presley, 462 Alabama, and was graduated from Humes High School in June, 1953.
His first record release, for Sun Record Co. of Memphis, backed "Blue Moon of Kentucky" with "That's All Right," and sold a sturdy 6,300 discs in Memphis in less than three weeks.
His second record, released two weeks ago Monday in the Memphis market alone, has already logged an astonishing 4,000 copies of "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine" and Good Rockin' Tonight." National distribution is expected to get the Presley name and fame really booming.

The Commercial Appeal - October 14, 1954 courtesy Ger J. Rijff



Scotty, Elvis, Bill and Frank Page at the Louisiana Hayride Oct. 16, 1954
Photo by Langston McEachern © courtesy of Louisiana Hayride Archives - J. Kent

Of their debut, Peter Guralnick wrote, The cheers that went up from the audience were encouraged by Frank Page and Horace Logan as they stood to the side of the Lucky Strike backdrop.  The microphones hanging out over the floor were turned up when Scotty took a somewhat uncertain solo, and the audience politely responded.  Elvis was visibly nervous, his knees were practically knocking together, and the jackknife action of his legs was about all, Sam Phillips was convinced, that was preventing him from blowing his brains out.  The reaction was not all that different from the one he had gotten on the Opry—he was so ill at ease it was hard for the audience to really like him, even though it was clear to Sam that they might want to do just that, that they were ready, like Memphis audiences, to respond to the boy’s charm.3


Scotty, Elvis and Bill at the Louisiana Hayride - Jan. 8 (or Feb. 5), 1955
Photo © courtesy of Louisiana Hayride Archives - J. Kent

The following month, Bill Sachs in Billboard noted that Country music was exceeding pop music and becoming the "biggest thing in entertainment".  In the same piece he wrote, . . . Elvis Presley, 19-year-old comer in the c.&w. field, who guested on WWKH's "Louisian Hayride," October 16, and made such a hit that he was brought back a week later, has become a regular member of the "Hayride " forces, along with William Black and Winfred Moore (sic). The three record for Sun Records.4 Things would soon change.


Scotty, Sonny Trammel, Elvis and Bill at the Louisiana Hayride - Jan. 22, 1955
Photo © courtesy of Louisiana Hayride Archives - J. Kent


Scotty, Elvis and Bill at the Louisiana Hayride - Jan. 22, 1955
Photo courtesy Ger Rijff's Long Lonely Highway


Scotty, Sonny Trammel, Elvis and Bill at the Louisiana Hayride - Jan. 22, 1955
Photo © Nick Gulli courtesy JohnGriswold.com

Jack Barham, a photographer for the The Shreveport Journal at the time recalled first meeting Elvis while covering another performer on the Hayride. “I was going behind the curtain to get different angles to shoot. There was a kid lying down between the curtains there, with a guitar,” he recalled. “I stepped over him twice. I said, ‘Who the hell are you?’ He said, ‘I’m Elvis Presley, sir.’ ”5


Scotty, Elvis and Bill on the Louisiana Hayride - ca. Spring 1955
Photo courtesy Pat Green source unknown


Elvis and fan backstage at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium - 1955
Photo courtesy Brian Petersen


Elvis backstage at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium - 1955
Photo by Maxine Brown

It wasn't long before the audiences got younger and louder.  It was on the Hayride that they first met D.J. Fontana, the staff drummer who generally played behind the curtain. During their tenure they would often tour with other Hayride acts like Jim Ed and Maxine Brown, Betty Amos and others and also perform on the Hayride's remote broadcasts in other cities when other events occupied the Municipal Auditorium.  The Saturday night broadcasts of the Hayride eventually all but assured attendances in the venues they played within range.


Scotty and Elvis at the Louisiana Hayride - Aug. 13, 1955
Photo courtesy majortominor


Scotty, Elvis and Bill at the Louisiana Hayride - fall 1955?
Photo courtesy Ger J. Rijff

Horace Logan noted that Elvis changed things, and after him there was just no going back.  Guralnick also wrote that some of the Hayride veterans, like 27 year old Jimmy “C” Newman, would say, "we’d just stand in the wings and shake our heads.  ‘It can’t be, it can’t last, it’s got to be a fad.’ . . . What he did was he changed it all around.  After that we had to go to Texas to work, there wasn’t any work anywhere else, because all they wanted was someone to imitate Elvis, to jump up and down on the stage and make a fool of themselves.  It was embarrassing to me to see it—Elvis could do it, but few others could." 3


Fans at the Louisiana Hayride
Photo by Langston McEachern


Elvis backstage of the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium with Horace Logan's pistol - Oct. 1955?
Photo by Langston McEachern


Scotty, Elvis and DJ at the Louisiana Hayride - late 1955, or early 1956
Photo © courtesy of Louisiana Hayride Archives - J. Kent


Scotty, Elvis and DJ at the Louisiana Hayride - Jan. 7, 1956
Photo courtesy web

Around November of 1955, fellow Sun artist Johnny Cash made his debut on the Hayride while just months before George Jones had auditioned at a remote broadcast in Conroe, TX which led to his signing. That November, much to the dismay of Colonel Parker, Elvis signed on for another year. Johnny signed on as a regular in January.


Johnny Cash at the Louisiana Hayride - Feb. 1956?
Photo by Langston McEachern


DJ, Elvis and Bill at the Louisiana Hayride - Feb. 1956?
Photo by Langston McEachern

Shreveport native Carol Golemon, nee Mangham, was 14 years old when she started attending the Hayride with friends in 1955, and had gone for one reason...Elvis. She said, "It was very exciting even though it was essentially a live radio show. Because we weren't old enough to drive my friends and I begged one of our Dad's each week to drive and chaperone us. My Daddy used to sit far away from us when it was his turn." Of Elvis she said, "He was friendly and cute and sexy and funny. My friends and I, at thirteen or fourteen years old, were not interested in the "Hillbilly" acts so we sat on a huge speaker placed in front of the stage right where Elvis stood and only turned around to take his picture. It was definitely a visual experience!"6


Scotty, Elvis and Bill on stage at the Louisiana Hayride - Mar. 3, 1956
Photo by Carol Golemon courtesy Cristi Dragomir


Elvis and DJ on stage at the Louisiana Hayride - Mar. 3, 1956
Photo by Carol Golemon courtesy of Louisiana Hayride Archives - J. Kent


Elvis and DJ on stage at the Louisiana Hayride - Mar. 3, 1956
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Elvis on stage at the Louisiana Hayride - Mar. 3, 1956
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Oh, Elvis, how you teased us! This is at the back door of the Municipal Auditorium after a Louisiana Hayride show. Security keeping all us girls out on the big metal staircase which led to this door, wrote Carol - Mar. 3, 1956

Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon

"After Elvis had been on the Hayride for awhile and word spread (we took the message to Byrd High School) you really couldn't hear him so much because of the screaming girls - me included. We had all his 45's to listen to though. I don't think I had words then for how it felt. I don't think I have words, now. I just loved him, that's all. I grew to love much of that music in time. When I started dating Guy Golemon, we went to all kinds of musical performances. My musical horizon expanded considerably." 6


Scotty and Elvis with Betty Amos' guitar at the Louisiana Hayride - Mar, 10, 1956
Photo courtesy Ger Rijff's Long Lonely Highway


Elvis with Betty Amos' guitar at the Louisiana Hayride - Mar. 10, 1956
Photo courtesy Ger Rijff'


Carol ManghamGolemon and Elvis backstage at the Municipal Auditorium - Mar. 10, 1956

I 'bout died when he put his arm around me (14 years old). He'd just come off stage...pink and black shirt..had just removed his jacket...still sweaty, Carol said.

Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Joan and Elvis backstage at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium - Mar. 10, 1956
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Joan Putnam, Lois Ann Harrington, Elvis, Carol Mangham and Martha Ann Yearwood at
the Auditorium - Mar. 10, 1956 

The person who took the pictures was the one who got us backstage to meet Elvis, and I don't remember who that was. I had not met Guy yet, so it was March 10, 1956. Elvis' shirt was pink and black and sweaty because he played his performance with the very same shirt and a jacket, Carol said.

Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy Ana Fernández Sangil


Elvis with fans outside the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium - Mar. 10, 1956
Photo courtesy Ger Rijff's Long Lonely Highway

An amateur photographer she had a Kodak Brownie camera and between her and her future husband Guy Golemon, would capture performance and backstage photos of many of their favorite stars at Auditorium. Many have been shared and eventually appeared in various publications. "None of us respected these photos at the time," she said, "mine were all in a shoebox in the back of the un-air conditioned car. Once, on our way from Shreveport to Houston - windows down - the whole box flew out onto the brand new East Texas Freeway with signs posted everywhere...NO STOPPING! My uncle refused to stop and my cousin, Marty and I started crying and threatened to jump out of the car, until my aunt told him to stop. We ran all up and down the road gathering up Elvis photos. Probably lost some then and others from just carelessness." 6


Elvis during his final Hayride appearance in the Municipal Auditorium - Mar. 31, 1956
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Elvis and DJ during their final Hayride appearance in the Auditorium - Mar. 31, 1956
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon

However, by March of 1956, due to his impending stardom, Elvis would buy out of the remainder of his contract for $10,000 and the agreement to return at a future date for one final benefit appearance. On March 31st, they gave the last of performance  on the Hayride at the Auditorium and it almost seemed to mark the beginning of the end for the show. Both Johnny and George would move on to the Grand Ole Opry in the summer of 1956 but the Hayride though would see the development of other local talent that year.


Shreveport's Municipal Auditorium - home of the Louisiana Hayride - ca. 1959
Photo © Louisiana Hayride Archives - J. Kent

During the summer of 1956 the Auditorium went through the first of two renovations which included the installation of a handicapped ramp on the left side of the front façade; modernization of a few of the offices; replacement of seats in the orchestra section; addition of a dropped ceiling in the auditorium; and most of all, air conditioning. During this time the Hayride was held at the 10,000 seat Hirsch Coliseum at the State Fair Grounds, where Elvis would return for his final Hayride obligation in December.1


James Burton and George Jones - ca. 1956
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


David Houston and James Burton - ca. 1956
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Tilman Franks, Sonny Trammel, David Houston and James Burton - ca. 1956
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Sonny Trammel, Pee Wee King and (6'5") Little Eller Long - ca. 1956
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Sonny Trammel and Margie Singleton (Shelby Singleton) - ca. 1956
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon

Johnny Horton had had limited success and a few hit records but in 1956 had a top ten single with “Honky Tonk Man” written by fellow Hayrider and manager Tillman Franks. It was recorded the day after Elvis recorded Heartbreak Hotel and it also featured Bill Black on bass. He would experience bigger success in 1959 with "The Battle of New Orleans, but tragically, would die the following year in an automobile accident.2


Johnny Horton with Tommy Tomlinson on guitar - ca. 1957
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Johnny Horton with Tommy Tomlinson on guitar - ca. 1957
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


James Kirkland, Bob Luman and James Burton - ca. 1957
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy Rockabilly Hall of Fame


Carol Golemon and Bob Luman - ca. 1957
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Jimmy Davis, Webb Pierce and Faron Young
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon

James Burton was only 14 when he started playing at the Hayride behind performers like David Houston, George Jones, Jimmy and Johnny, Billy Walker and Johnny Horton. He and Hayride steel guitarist Sonny Trammel would often trade licks. In 1957 James recorded the hit "Susie Q" with Dale Hawkins after which Horace Logan matched him with Bob Luman and James Kirkland on a few Hayride shows where they formed the band Bob Luman and the Shadows. Logan arranged for the band to do a movie in Hollywood, called "Carnival Rock" and the following year James, along with Kirkland, later Joe Osborn, would back up Ricky Nelson.7


Gene Vincent (with DJ's drums) - ca. 1958
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps with DJ on Drums - ca. 1958
Photo courtesy web

When Elvis entered the Army in 1958 the boys were left to fend for themselves. Bill would form the Bill Black Combo and Scotty would produce a hit, "Tragedy," with Thomas Wayne (Perkins), Luther's brother. DJ, originally from Shreveport, would briefly perform with Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps. However, rhythm guitarist Max Lipscomb, aka Scotty McKay has said the band was a little too hell raising for DJ.


View from the stage at the Louisiana Hayride - ca. 1958
Photo © courtesy of Louisiana Hayride Archives - J. Kent


Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two at the Hayride - ca. Feb. 1958
Photo courtesy Colin Escott


Marshall Grant, Johnny Cash, Luther Perkins and Guy Golemon - ca. Feb. 1958
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Johnny Cash and Luther Perkins - ca. Feb. 1958
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Johnny Horton with Tommy Tomlinson on guitar - ca. Feb. 1958
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Carl Belew - ca. Feb. 1958
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Webb Pierce - ca. 1958
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Benny Barnes at the Hayride - ca. 1958
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon

By 1958 the gravy days of the Hayride were coming to an end. Horace Logan moved on and by August of 1960 KWKH announced that Grandpa Jones would headline the last regular performance of the show, on the 27th. After that it became became a monthly and then quarterly affair but would continue on like that into the '60s.2


June Webb, Roy Acuff and Bashful Brother Oswald - Jan. 31, 1959*
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


June Carter - Jan. 31, 1959*
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


The Wilburn Brothers (Teddy and Doyle) and June Webb behind - Jan. 31, 1959*
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Roy Acuff, June Webb and Bashful Brother Oswald with the Smokey Mountain Boys and others - Jan. 31, 1959*

Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon

 


Doyle Wilburn, June Webb, Roy Acuff and Bashful Brother Oswald with the Smokey Mountain Boys and others - Jan. 31, 1959*

Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Hank Snow and the Rainbow Ranch Boys - Mar. 12, 1960*
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Hank Snow and the Rainbow Ranch Boys - Mar. 12, 1960*
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Hank Snow and Carol Golemon - Mar. 12, 1960*
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon

Music and Hayride historians have identified several factors which contributed to the Hayride’s decline and eventual end which include: the loss of the Hayride’s place on CBS’s national radio network by 1958, local disk jockeys playing recorded music replaced network programming and live musical broadcasts, competition from television’s free programming, rising production costs including talent fees and facility rentals, and also Shreveport’s lack of recording studios, booking agencies, and music publishing companies, i.e., related businesses needed to support the music industry. In it time though, the Hayride had introduced and/or nurtured the careers of at least twenty-three major country music stars now included in the Country Music Hall of Fame. The show left a body of work including 550 Saturday night broadcasts of the best country music available at the time.2 Years later, compilations would be released of some of the finest performances recorded there by Elvis, Johnny and the others.


Duane Eddy on the G.A.C. Super Productions Show of Stars tour  - Oct. 1960
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Jimmy Clanton on the G.A.C. Super Productions Show of Stars tour - Oct. 1960
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Fabian on the G.A.C. Super Productions Show of Stars tour - Oct. 1960
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy


Brenda Lee on the Show of Stars tour at the Municipal Auditorium - Oct. 1960
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon

The Auditorium however would continue to see other major acts through the years. In October of 1960, Shreveport and the Auditorium were just one of the stops for General Artist Corporation's "Biggest Show of Stars for '60." The show was headlined by Fabian, Duane Eddy and Brenda Lee backed by the Bobby Vincent Orchestra. It also featured performances by Freddy Cannon, Garry Miles, Chubby Checker, Garry Miles and the Bill Black Combo.


 Carol Golemon and Johnny Cash backstage - Feb. 24, 1962*
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon


Johnny Cash and Luther Perkins - Feb. 24, 1962*
Photo © Carol Golemon courtesy John Golemon

Carol and Guy Golemon would photograph many others that played the auditorium or toured through Shreveport, like Fats Domino, Little Richard and Bo Diddley to name but a few more. They eventually relocated to the Nashville area with their sons so that Guy could pursue song writing and Carol would later befriend June Carter and attend many taping of the Johnny Cash show with June's daughters.6


Scotty and Carl at the Municipal Auditorium - Oct. 16, 1994
Photo © Scotty Moore


Scotty plays again beneath the original Hayride banner - Oct. 16, 1994
Photo © Scotty Moore


Scotty imprints his hands in cement for the Auditorium - Oct. 16, 1994
Photo © Scotty Moore

In 1991 the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.1 On October 16, 1994, forty years to the day since his first appearance on the Hayride with Elvis and Bill Black, Scotty returned to the Auditorium for a 40th Anniversary concert put on by Nashville International Concerts in association with Joey Kent, owner of the Louisiana Hayride Archives. The show also featured D.J. Fontana, Carl Perkins, The Jordanaires and Ronnie McDowell, all performing under the original banner. At that time, Scotty's handprints were cast in cement for a walkway.


The rear of the Municipal Memorial Auditorium - Aug. 2010
Photo © Rick Crofts


 The big metal staircase and door in the back where Carol photographed Elvis - Aug. 2010
Photo © Rick Crofts

The building received its second renovation in 2000 which involved relocating the handicapped ramp to the right side of the front façade; installation of a handicapped ramp in the auditorium space; removal of seats in section two to provide for wheelchair seating; installation of a sprinkler system; and general repairs. These rehabilitation projects made minimal changes to the building’s historic features and restored the auditorium’s historic ceiling and light fixtures. The ceiling, hidden behind a dropped ceiling since 1956, features thick decoratively painted parallel beams separating rows of star-shaped light fixtures with glass panes that are subdivided by elements resembling wagon wheel spokes.1


Interior of the Municipal Memorial Auditorium - Mar. 2008
Photo © Paul Ridenour


Interior of the Municipal Memorial Auditorium - Mar. 2008
Photo © Paul Ridenour


Ceiling, arena floor, mezzanine and balconies of the Auditorium - Aug. 2010
Photo © Rick Crofts


Ceiling, arena floor, mezzanine and balconies of the Auditorium

Photo courtesy Shreveport Municipal Auditorium FB


Ceiling, arena floor, mezzanine and balconies of the Auditorium
Photo courtesy Shreveport Municipal Auditorium FB

It currently seats 3,005 people, with 570 portable chairs on the floor in front of the stage, 543 seats in the orchestra section which partially encircles the space, 558 seats in the dress circle above the orchestra tier (part of the mezzanine), and 1,334 seats in the balcony. The portable seats can be removed to provide a dance floor.1


Statue of Elvis in front of Shreveport's Municipal Memorial Auditorium - Aug. 2010
Photo © Rick Crofts


Statues of Elvis and James Burton in front of the Auditorium - Aug. 2010
Photo © Rick Crofts

A statue of Elvis Presley was erected on the sidewalk in front of the Auditorium in October of 2004 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his first appearance at the auditorium and Grand Avenue was renamed Elvis Presley Avenue.1 The following year, in August, a statue of James Burton was also installed on the sidewalk and for several years the auditorium hosted the James Burton International Guitar festival. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark on October 6, 2008.


The Municipal Memorial Auditorium at 705 Elvis Presley Ave. in Shreveport, LA - 2010
Photo courtesy Shreveport Municipal Auditorium FB


Photos courtesy Microsoft EarthData

Today the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium still hosts fund raisers, musical concerts, a guitar festival, speakers, and performances by the casts of traveling Broadway shows and other special events. An annual Mardi Gras ball, other dances, receptions, and even catered dinners are held in the auditorium space.1


Elvis Presley Avenue and the Municipal Memorial Auditorium - Mar. 2007
Photo © TitusLlewelyn

Page (finally) added February 8, 2012

Special thanks to Ana Fernández Sangil for the excerpts from her interview, to the Golemons, John for the photos, Carol for her permission to use them and her and Guy for their input.  Thanks also to Rick Crofts and Joey Kent for their early assistance with this page. *Some dates speculative based on tours and artist appearances advertised in Billboard Magazine.

1 adapted from history contained in the NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK NOMINATION Registration Form for the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium which, among others, credits Stephen R. Tucker and Tracy Laird
2 according to and adapted from the Prospectus for the sale of the Louisiana Hayride Archives and related collections
3 excerpt from Last Train To Memphis by Peter Guralnick
4 according to Billboard Magazine - November 24, 1954
5 according to "Blue Christmas with Elvis in La. Museum" AP feature by Janet McConnaughey, December 24, 2007
6 excerpts of interview with Carol Golemon, nee Mangham, by Ana Fernández Sangil
7 according to "Biography" on the Official James Burton Website



© Aug. 2010 Rick Crofts


© Aug. 2010 Rick Crofts


© Aug. 2010 Rick Crofts

 

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