Elvis Presley and the Louisiana Hayride

If you love Elvis Presley today, you can give thanks, in part, to the Louisiana Hayride.

The Hayride, a regional radio (and later television) show, helped launch Elvis’ early career. In fact, “The Cradle of the Stars,” as it was known, was the springboard to fame for many country artists such as Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, Slim Whitman, Faron Young, Johnny Cash, Kitty Wells and George Jones, to name a few.

The Louisiana Hayride began as a radio program on April 3, 1948, and was broadcast from the Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana. Admission for the three-hour show was – get this – 60 cents for adults and 30 cents for children. The show aired in the South, and parts of it aired nationally on CBS Radio and overseas on Armed Forces Radio. Many of the Hayride regulars toured around the region in Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas.

It's the 62nd anniversary of Elvis' first performance on the Louisiana Hayride.

It’s the 62nd anniversary of Elvis’ first performance on the Louisiana Hayride.

Elvis performed on “The Grand Ole Opry” on October 2, 1954, and it was… not exactly the warm reception he’d hoped for. So a week after that performance, his producer, Sam Phillips, booked Elvis on the Opry’s main competition, the Hayride.  Elvis’ first appearance on the Hayride was October 16, 1954.

Elvis returned to the Hayride on November 6 with his parents, who had to also sign Elvis’ contract with the show, since Elvis was just 19. Elvis’ pay was $18 per show, and his bandmates, Bill Black and Scotty Moore, would each receive $12 per show. Through the rest of 1954 and 1955, Elvis appeared weekly in Shreveport at the Louisiana Hayride. In October 1955, Elvis’ contract was renewed for $200 per show, as Elvis’ fame had grown in the year since his initial appearance.

The Municipal Auditorium, which was the headquarters for the Hayride, is still used as a venue in Shreveport.

The Municipal Auditorium, which was the headquarters for the Hayride, is still used as a venue in Shreveport.

But that contract wouldn’t last long. In 1956, Elvis released his debut album, appeared on national television and was touring the country. In late 1956, he began filming his first movie. The weekly trips to Shreveport to perform on the Hayride just didn’t fit in with Elvis’ busy schedule, so his new manager, Col. Tom Parker, bought Elvis out of his Hayride contract for $10,000 with a promise that Elvis would perform on the Hayride’s special charity show on December 15, 1956. Elvis’ last regular appearance on the Hayride was March 31, 1956.

Elvis' last Hayride performance was in 1956. The Louisiana Hayride ended in 1960.

Elvis’ last Hayride performance was in 1956. The Louisiana Hayride ended in 1960.

While the Louisiana Hayride didn’t make Elvis a household name, it did help him reach many new audiences – and of course, that only helped further his career.

Graceland is Elvis’ home, but it’s also the place to go if you want to learn about the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s career. Plan your visit to Graceland today.


  1. Richard Dean

    I was 13 at that time. The first time i heard Elvis i became a fan. I’m now 76 and still a fan.
    My radio only has one station, Elvis.
    I was lucky enough to have seen Elvis in concert 26 times and 5 times at Graceland. I’ve been going to Graceland since 1972, lost count on how many times. Elvis was blessed and he shared his blessings with us. TCB

  2. anita ferroni

    i am an elvis fan since he started and i love everything about him on july the 6th i was in memphis visited graceland on th 8th of july tupelo on the 7th i was very emotional at his grave side thanks for sharing this story and gratefull to the luisianna hayride also we fans will keep elvis alive as long as we (i live ) and thats what i do on facebook with my elvis friend and i hope one day before i pass away (as im 82 ) id go back to graceland and i was happy to be there just before the (12th my birth day ) im from montreal canada


  4. Glad to see these dates. While on a visit to Louisiana from California as a child. My dad and I took my grandmother to the movies. Must have been 1957. When Elvis came on screen, my grandmother ( very loudly)says I seen that boy at the hayride. Being 10 of course I was more embarrassed than impressed, now a cherished memory.

  5. Pirjo Johansson

    Elvis is still the King of all kind of music. I have loved him and his music since 1958. Listen to his music everyday still, I am 70 years now.

    Pirjo Johansson

  6. Carole Brocher

    Loved the pictures of Elvis on the Louisiana Hayride. A group from “True Fans For Elvis Fan Club” in Maine are taken a road trip to Graceland for 2017 Elvis Week. We all are so excited to be going there.

  7. Robert Lentz

    Elvis must have put on a great show, I was not born yet but with Elvis excellence is always there.

  8. Great article and photos. Keep the early Elvis info coming!

  9. Marc-A. Comtois

    Forget all those who preceded him, all those who followed, ELVIS- quite simply- was, is and always will be THE BEST!!!

  10. Eve Hart

    Loved reading about Elvis at the Hayride his pay certainly took a leap $18 up to $200 they obviously saw what a brilliant performer he was and how the fans loved him. I’ve read his blessed mom was happy Elvis was performing there as she was a big Hank Snow fan. Elvis’ instant fame must have taken the family a long while to come to terms with it. I think it all happened so fast for them to catch their breath. Again loved reading about the hayride and seeing the great photos. I came to Graceland from England for Elvis’ 80th birthday celebrations it was the most fantastic time I loved visiting his beautiful home with my Insiders membership card to walk around in the evening when not too many people were there was pure magic. I would dearly love to come again as I think my first visit was like being in a dream and hard to believe I was actually in Elvis’ wonderful home. Thank you for all these fabulous snippets of Elvis’ life I Love it all ❤️ Eve x

  11. I have been an ELVIS fan for many years. I was lucky to see him perform 3 times.Nothing and I mean nothing has ever been more exciting and memorable than his performances. LOve all the articles and the photos…keep up the good work

  12. I have been an ELVIS fan my whole life – just turned 50 this week. My mom and I are taking our first trip to Graceland and staying at the new Guest House Hotel…. so excited!!!

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