The Earliest Footage of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Johnny Cash (1955)

Here are some rare home movies from the earliest days of rock and roll. Although accounts differ, this is apparently the oldest footage of four legendary performers: Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins. The film was shot in 1955 with an 8mm camera in Holly’s hometown of Lubbock, Texas, by his friend Ben Hall, a local disc jockey and musician who would later write the song “Blue Days, Black Nights” from Holly’s That’ll Be The Day album. The silent footage is widely reported to have been taken at one of Presley’s April 29, 1955 shows at the Cotton Club in Lubbock. But that may not be entirely true, because Holly, Cash and Perkins were not on the advertised bill for those shows.

Presley performed in Lubbock several times that year. He first met Holly at a show at the Fair Park Coliseum on February 13, when Holly and his friend Bob Montgomery appeared at the bottom of the bill as the country duo Buddy & Bob. Holly was 18 years old and still a senior in high school. The charismatic Presley, though still unknown in most parts of the country in 1955, was already treated as a star in the South, where he was mobbed by fans.

According to the Scotty Moore Web site, the footage of Presley was taken on April 29 and the others were filmed later in the year. Presley is shown onstage and off with his original band, the Blue Moon Boys, with Scotty Moore on guitar and Bill Black on bass. Perkins appears in an orange jacket, Cash is wearing a white string tie over a black shirt, and Holly, who turned 19 around that time, is easily recognizable in his trademark eyeglasses.

Related Content:

Buddy Holly at Age 12: His First Recording

Library Card Signed by 13-Year-Old Elvis Presley, the Earliest Known Signature of the King

Jimmy Page, 13, Plays Guitar on BBC Talent Show (1957)

Two Prison Concerts That Defined an Outlaw Singer: Johnny Cash at San Quentin and Folsom (1968-69)

The Beatles as Teens (1957)

by | Permalink | Comments (3) |

Support Open Culture

We’re hoping to rely on our loyal readers rather than erratic ads. To support Open Culture’s educational mission, please consider making a donation. We accept PayPal, Venmo (@openculture), Patreon and Crypto! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (3)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Graeme Hubbard says:

    It is April 29th 1955 for Elvis, he didn’t have that guitar for much longer. Carl Perkins is there as well but also again with Holly but wearing different clothes on the two different occasions. The Holly / Cash / Perkins footage could be as late as October 1955. Elvis was not there on that date with them.

  • James Roy says:

    The footage with Elvis, Scotty and Bill was shot at the Cotton Club and was spliced together with other film shot later by Ben Hall of Carl, Johnny, Buddy, Sonny Curtis etc.. at the Fair Park Auditorium. Different times, different place.

  • Adrina says:

    What’s interesting to me is Carl Perkins, smiling away and brushing off his shoes, it’s like a point was made by the cameraman to film him do this.
    Which suggests to me that Blue suede shoes had just entered the charts.
    Or it could just be a very strange coinincidence, I’ve posted about this on several YouTube videos.
    The thing is, this song was not released until December 1955,At least that’s the info I’ve found

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.