It’s easy to forget just how controversial of a figure Elvis Presley was in the ’50s.
His early rockabilly sound didn’t quite fit in any genre, including country. When he took his first trip to the Grand Ole Opry, Presley wasn’t prepared for the lukewarm reception he received.
On Oct. 2, 1954, Elvis took the stage at Ryman Auditorium and performed a rendition of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky”. Although young Elvis was excited for his chance to pay tribute to one of his favorite artists, his act didn’t go over well. It was widely reported that Opry talent manager Jim Denny was so disappointed with Presley’s set that he advised Presley to leave the music business and return to his day job as a truck driver.
After receiving such a cold reception at the Opry, Elvis reportedly swore never to return. Just a few weeks later, he appeared on Louisiana Hayride, a country music program. The radio show, which was the Opry’s biggest competition, saw Presley’s potential and signed him for 52 Saturday night performances. Those weekly broadcasts helped to launch Elvis’ career and bring the sound of rockabilly to a new audience.
Elvis never returned to the Opry stage before his death in 1977. Thankfully, he ignored the naysayers and went on to record dozens of hit songs that will be cherished by generations to come.