When Buddy Opened For Elvis
(Not Buddy from Lubbock, but Buddy from San Saba!)
The Elvis Presley show at Evans Auditorium,
San Marcos, Texas - Oct. 6, 1955

By Ronnie

Right: Buddy Roy opening for the Elvis matinee performance in San Marcos on Oct., 6, 1955

Yes, Buddy DID open for Elvis at San Marcos, Texas in 1955. But not Buddy from Lubbock, but Buddy from San Saba!

Until very recently, I had no idea that Elvis Presley once performed at Evans Auditorium at Southwest Texas State College (now called Texas State) in San Marcos, Texas. Why is that so important to me? Well, I was born in San Marcos, and while my family moved to nearby Seguin, I still consider both San Marcos and Seguin to be my hometowns. And, I also attended Southwest Texas State University (another name change) from 1982-84. My college rock band also played at Evans in 1984 as part of a talent show (the same stage that Elvis once performed on!). Evans Auditorium is still there, although it was renovated in 1980 and looks much different on the outside.

At the time, Elvis was performing as part of the Louisiana Hayride, a popular travelling show of stars in the 1950's. The date of the San Marcos show was Thursday, October 6, 1955. The San Marcos show that day was an afternoon matinee, as there was another evening show scheduled in nearby Austin at the Skyline Club. While I could find no evidence of the starting time of the afternoon matinee in San Marcos, I believe it was 3pm. How did I come up with this time? Well, the normal length of the Louisiana Hayride show was 3 hours, as advertised on many posters of the events. I searched the 1955 tour itinerary of the Louisiana Hayride shows, and on days where there were two shows scheduled, most of the afternoon shows started at 3pm, with the evening shows normally at 8pm. This also takes into account the travel time from San Marcos to Austin, which would be roughly 30 minutes.

I stumbled upon a fortuitous moment recently when I was looking through an old 1955-56 yearbook from SWT that I had. Lately, I've been fascinated by old pictures of both San Marcos and Seguin (I follow two facebook pages of historic pictures from both towns). While paging through the yearbook to find old photos of San Marcos, I came across a picture of a guitar playing singer on stage, captioned, "BUDDY ROY sings on Louisiana Hayride program". I immediately did a double-take, saying to myself, "this looks like Mr. Roy from high school!" Billy "Buddy" Roy was a teacher at my high school in Seguin. Through Buddy's son, I was able to contact Mr. Roy, who still lives in Seguin for an interview about that day he opened for Elvis!

The following is an interview that I had with Buddy Roy, with the addition of a few comments that he made when the photo was first posted.

Right: Some of the members of the Louisiana Hayride at Evans Auditorium. On the far right is emcee Horace Logan, who coined the phrase, "Elvis has left the building"!

EC: How did you get to open for Elvis at SWT on Thursday, October 6th, 1955? It was the travelling Louisiana Hayride show, correct?

Buddy: I was a member of the Rodeo Club and we were the sponsors and yes it was a travelling show. I had been singing around campus and had a bunch of friends that had heard me in the dorm and about. The president of the club was a good friend and told Horace Logan that he would like for him to put me on the show. Horace had them come get me and we talked. He ask what songs I'd like to sing and then let it be known that the king was in the house and when the King was in the house I couldn't sing any of the King's music.

EC: How long had you been playing guitar and singing at that time?

Buddy: I had started trying to learn the guitar my sophomore year in high school and hadn't learned much past me accompanying myself. Got that far and no further. I had never and still never sang professional in any way.

Right: Elvis played in Austin, Texas later that evening

EC: Elvis' performance at SWT was a matinee because he had a show in Austin that evening. Do you remember what time the show started in San Marcos?

Buddy: Can't remember 65 year ago!
[Editor's note: it was probably around 3pm]

EC: How long did the entire show last? One of the vintage Lousiana Hayride posters said "3 hour stage show".

Buddy: Had to be a 3 hour show.

EC: The night before in Greenville, Texas, the lineup was: Elvis, Jimmy and Johnnie, Johnny Horton, Betty Amos, Sonny Trammel and Ray Gomer, Daldon and Lula Jo, Willie Bird Brain, and the master of ceremonies, Horace Logan. Was this the same lineup for San Marcos?

Buddy: I remember George Jones, Jim Ed Brown and sisters, Elvis, and I don't remember Johnny Horton being there. I remember these peope the most for they were the ones I had conversations with.

EC: How many songs did each act get to perform?

Buddy: I opened the show and the rest of the time I was so lit up with what had just happened to me that I'd have to say I have no idea.

Right: Evans Auditorium

EC: How big was the audience, was it a packed house?

Buddy: The Auditorium was packed and I was scared to death until I practiced a little with the Hayride Band. Never have and never will have such a driving force: they were so good that I knew that anyone could sing and get away with sounding decent when these guys backing you. Of course that was my first band experience.

EC: How many songs did you get to play, and do you remember what songs you did?

Buddy: Got to sing 3 songs and one I can't remember. I sang "There She Goes", "The Kentucky Song" and one fast one that I'm not sure what it was. Since I was a local student, the students and friends started hollering for encores. Jim Ed kept pushing me back out and on the third he insisted it to be a fast one. Best I remember it was one of Hank William's song. Hank was my favorite until Elvis hit.

EC: Did anyone tell you what songs to play?

Buddy: No just the songs I couldn't sing. The master of ceremony, Horace Logan, told me I could sing anything I wanted except the King's music. He said when the king is in the house no one sings the king's music.

EC: Were you nervous?

Buddy: Yes...Very!

EC: In the picture I can see an electric guitarist behind you, who is it? And a stand-up bass is set on the ground. Did a band back you up?

Buddy: I don't know who that was but the standing bass was Bill Black's.

EC: Do you remember what songs Elvis played, and for how long?

Buddy: No! I was so struck with everyone back stage and all that that I can't remember anything about the show at all.

EC: In the photo you have turned-up jeans and a white shirt?

Buddy: That was a pink shirt. You can't see them very well but I also had on my blue suede shoes on.

EC: Colonel Parker became Elvis Presley's manager on August 15, 1955 a few months before the San Marcos show. Was he there? Did you get to talk to him?

Buddy: Don't think Parker was there.

EC: What was it like backstage?

Right: Buddy Roy then and now

Buddy:I was 18 and very impressionable and overwhelmed. Had a hard time dealing with the attention and presence of many of my hero's...Jim Ed Brown, George Jones, Elvis, Billy Walker and other. They were all of a sudden human as they visited with me back stage. Could not hardly remember anything as I was just so excited to be in the presence of country stars.

EC: Did you get to talk to Elvis much either before or after the show? Did he say anything about your performance, or give you any advice?

Buddy: Elvis was bigger than life, He came over after I got back stage and I saw him coming with an extended hand saying, "I'm Elvis" and I do remember saying "I know who you are". Elvis did say I'd done a good job.

Can't put it all together but while Jim Ed, the talent scout, was talking to me about doing something with the little bit of talent I had, Elvis added something that he himself felt like a prisoner. He had tried to meet with the Hayride in his private car. He lost his hubcaps and people has cut pieces of material from his convertible top. He knew his life was no longer normal and sounded like he was unconformable with it. This was happening backstage as the show was going on. I took what he said as advice and was to ponder on what he said at a later time.