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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

For Bob Buckhorn’s state of the city speech, a rockin' historical soundtrack

More than 10,000 people came to see Elvis Presley perform at Tampa's Fort Homer Hesterly Armory on Aug. 5, 1956.

BOB MORELAND | St. Petersburg Times (1956)

More than 10,000 people came to see Elvis Presley perform at Tampa's Fort Homer Hesterly Armory on Aug. 5, 1956.



Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s annual report on the state of the city report always includes a speech, but really it’s a multi-media experience.

There’s the music: often gospel choirs and big Bruce Springsteen anthems. And there’s the videos: Cops, firefighters, other city workers, plus entrepreneurs and civic activists. One year there was a pre-speech video — offered without a lot of explanation — of a young man putting himself through impossibly difficult workouts in the hope of making the National Football League. (Message: Achieving your goals requires sacrifice.)

Today, listen for this year’s event to include its own soundtrack, a history mix tape of sorts.

Before the 10:30 a.m. speech at the old Fort Homer Hesterly Armory, don’t be surprised to hear songs from an eclectic range of 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s acts, everyone...

from Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley...

to James Brown and the Allman Brothers...

and from the Doors and Pink Floyd...

to Tom Jones and the Ramones.

All those acts played the armory. (In 1956, general admission tickets for Elvis were $1.50. More than 10,000 people showed up.)

It’s all part of Buckhorn’s effort to spotlight the place of the speech as much as the theme. These days, the armory is undergoing a $26 million renovation to become the Bryan Glazer Family JCC, with more than 100,000 square feet of activity space until the management of the Jewish Community Center.

Over the years, the armory has been the site of all kinds of events, including boxing matches, professional wrestling, roller derby and exotic bird shows. There also were speeches from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and then-President John F. Kennedy, just four days before he died. And, in addition to the mayor’s soundtrack, there was even more rock ‘n’ roll, including appearances by B.B. King, Uriah Heep, Ten Years After, Steppenwolf, Earth Wind and Fire, Badfinger and Three Dog Night.

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 12, 2016 3:47pm]


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