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)

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Comments (3)
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  • 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

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