One of Shreveport’s most treasured buildings, the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, has been home to a number of famous performances over the years. But none as notable as the “Louisiana Hayride.” It’s been nearly 70 years since the “Hayride” made its debut, bringing to life the sounds of the South on the radio and, years later, television.
The Cradle of the Stars
The 1940s/50s was a golden era for country and blues music in the South, and the “Hayride” was a major influence for many budding musicians. Every Saturday night, the public crammed the aisles of the Municipal Auditorium for a night of music, hilarity and prizes.
In its 12-year run, the show saw its fair share of gifted performers rise to fame, positioning Shreveport as a leading destination for fresh talent and cutting-edge entertainment. Stars like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Johnny Horton built their reputations on the “Hayride” stage. The show also featured dozens of prominent singers and musicians, including Kitty Wells and Bob Wills.
Elvis Has Entered the Building
In October 1954, a fresh-eyed teenager from Mississippi named Elvis Presley took the stage for the first time to play his newly released single, “That’s All Right Mama.” The response was lukewarm initially. Even so, “Hayride” signed him on to play every Saturday night for $18 a performance. Here, Presley honed his skill and developed techniques that would lead to him to be signed by a major music producer.
It wasn’t long before rock and roll fever swept the nation. The demand for Presley’s style of music eventually lead the to a sharp decline in interest for the program’s traditionally country lineup. The “Louisiana Hayride” gave its final performance in 1960. Since then, reunion tours and anniversary performances have kept the spirit of the show alive.
See What’s Shakin’ with History on Tap
Learn more about Elvis Presley’s old stomping grounds Thursday, March 24 at History on Tap. We’ve paired historic monuments with special brews. Rain or shine, we’ll be there, giving you food for thought and beer for your gut. What more could you want?