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Accounts of Elvis in Meridian vary

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Aug. 16, 2002
The accounts are varied.
Elvis Presley was in Meridian at least once in the 1950s, but recollections have become a little foggy.
Some people remember seeing him here. But depending on who you ask, they say it was anywhere from 1953 to 1958.
One thing everyone agrees on is that he performed at Jimmie Rodgers Days, the forerunner of the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Festival at Ray Stadium.
Some say he was booked as a performer, some say he participated in a talent contest, some insist he did both a few years apart.
His reception is another point of contention. One account is that his audience was inattentive and rude, and he vowed never to come back to Meridian. Others remember him being a well-received performer.
Carl Fitzgerald, 73, of Meridian, was not at the Elvis performance at Ray Stadium, but he did have an encounter with Elvis afterward.
Fitzgerald said Elvis and other artists associated with the Louisiana Hayride and The Grand Ole Opry performed at Jimmie Rodgers Days on May 26, 1955.
Fitzgerald said he was playing music with a group that night for a dance at the Hamasa Temple Ballroom downtown. Elvis Presley, guitar player Scotty Moore and bass player Bill Black came by after their performance at Ray Stadium and asked if they could sing a couple of songs.
Fitzgerald and other members of his band backed up Elvis, Moore and Black on two songs "That's All Right Mama" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky," both of which had been released on Sun Records.