On April 23, he went to Las Vegas, where he was scheduled to perform until May 6, but his show was such a flop with the middle-aged audiences that his manager, Colonel Parker, cut the run from four weeks to two. While there, though, Elvis stopped by the Sands Hotel and saw Freddie Bell and the Bellboys live. It was a game-changing moment. He heard them sing Leiber and Stoller’s blues song “Hound Dog” and loved their version of it. With Freddie’s blessing, Elvis added “Hound Dog” to his live performances.
Then, on June 5, Elvis made Rock-n-Roll History and catapulted to superstardom. It was his second appearance on “The Milton Berle Show.” Backed up by the Jordanaires, he performed “Hound Dog” before a studio and TV audience. His sensual rendition of the bluesy song both electrified and stunned the nation. At the beginning of the number, Elvis gave it a standard, upbeat tempo. Then, halfway through the number, he slowed down the beat to a crawl, swiveling his hips in time to the music, and driving the studio audience wild with his raw sex appeal. Some critics likened Elvis’ performance to a striptease. The next day, he was referred to as “Elvis the Pelvis” and an international campaign began to keep him off the airwaves.
Watch the clip below. June 5, 1956. “The Milton Berle Show.” Elvis Presley sings “Hound Dog.”