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Levitt Shell Memphis

Elvis Presley's first paid concert performance

Elvis Presley backstage at the Overton Park Shell, July 30, 1954
Elvis Presley backstage at the Overton Park Shell, July 30, 1954
Click to enlarge. Photo by

Overton Park Shell
Overton Park Shell
Click to enlarge. Photo by John Larkin.

1928 Poplar Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38104
United States

On This Very Spot in 1936, the Overton Park Shell was built by Depression-ear WPA workers. The Shell was the home of the Memphis Open-Air Theatre (MOAT), and as a result the Shell itself was often referred to as The MOAT all the way into the 1970s.

On This Very Spot on July 30, 1954, Elvis Presley performed in his first paid concert. This performance is considered by some historians to be the first Rock-n-Roll show. Flyers for the concert listed Presley's name as Ellis Presley.

On This Very Spot On August 30, 1960, a group of 13 African-American college students attended an all-white religious rally and were promptly arrested. Their civil disobediance was one of many similar activities throughout the South designed to end segregation, a central goal of the American Civil Rights Movement.

On This Very Spot concerts have been performed by The Allman Brothers Band, Black Sabbath, Lee Baker, The Grateful Dead, The North Mississippi Allstars, Johnny Cash, Alex Chilton, Neil Diamond, Jim Dickinson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmi Hendrix while playing with Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Saliva, Seals and Croft, Robert T. Wilkins, ZZ Top, and many others.

On This Very Spot from the 1960s into the 2000s, the Shell dodged numerous plans to raze it. It lay dormant and deteriorating from 1985 until 2007, when it was renovated with funds from the Mortimer Levitt Foundation (one goal of which is to save similar open-air venues around the country).

On This Very Spot on September 4, 2008, the Levitt Shell Memphis reopened with a series of free concerts, which it continues to provide each year.

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This is an operating performance venue open to the public. For complete information and concert schedule, visit the official website.

Public Access: This spot is located in a public park and can be viewed 24/7/365.

Parking: Free parking is available on the streets around the venue.

Amenities: Restrooms are open during scheduled performances, and snacks are usually available.

Location: Located in Overton Park in mid-city Memphis, located in west Tennessee.

Nearest Major Airport: Memphis International Airport

Nearest Rail: Memphis Amtrak

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