SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – With the new Elvis movie out, ozarksfirst.com decided to talk to the History Museum on the Square about Johnny Wilkinson, the boy who met Elvis.
In the Spring of 1956, a young rock and roll singer from Memphis named Elvis Presley began a tour across the country. The tour brought Presley to Springfield at the Shrine Mosque.
Johnny Wilkinson grew up watching Presley perform. As a child prodigy guitarist, he was not a fan of how Presley played his guitar.
According to the museum, on May 17, 1956, ten-year-old Wilkinson heard that Presley was in town to perform at the Shrine Mosque. His parents had refused to buy him tickets to the concert. But Wilkinson’s mother and father were leaving town for the lake, and he stayed behind.
He rode his bike to the venue and slipped into the dressing room and introduced himself to Presley. He picked up Presley’s guitar and berated him for his musicianship.
Rolling Stone Magazine said the boy told Presley, “You can’t play guitar worth a damn.”
Presley told the boy he had a bright future and said they would meet again.
Later that year Presley made his famous appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, skyrocketing his career.
Thirteen years later, Wilkinson, now a young man, auditioned as a rhythm guitarist and would play behind the “King of Rock and Roll” for the rest of Presley’s life.
Wilkinson passed away after a long battle with cancer at the age of 67 in 2013.
The museum holds a few items once owned by Wilkinson including some clothes, pictures, and his guitar. Watch the video above to watch a brief interview with John Sellars, Executive Director Emeritus of the History Museum on the Square, about John Wilkinson.