Like a Prince from Another Planet

Everybody knows the two signature events of Elvis’ latter career were the ‘68 Comeback Special and the Elvis Aloha From Hawaii worldwide TV broadcast.  Do you know there was one other event that was a very big deal at the time but has faded a bit from memory?  I am referring to the four-show block of concerts Elvis gave at Madison Square Garden on June 9, 10, and 11, 1972.  If they had been preserved on film, they would probably rank up there with Aloha and the Comeback Special.

 

It’s hard to believe Elvis never gave a concert in New York City prior to this, because he had spent a lot of time there.  He was in town to do TV broadcasts for six Dorsey Brothers Shows, one Steve Allen Show, and three Ed Sullivan Shows.  He also had two recording sessions at RCA Studios that gave us “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hound Dog,” and “Don’t Be Cruel.”  In 1958, he departed for Army service in Germany from New York Harbor before a huge crowd of fans and members of the media.

 

But Elvis did no live shows in New York City during the 50’s and none during his first three years back on the road after the movies ended.  It has been suggested this strange absence can be traced to Col. Tom Parker’s management.  He had a long memory of the brutal treatment the New York press gave Elvis in 1956.

 

By 1972, Elvis’ concerts were huge successes in Las Vegas and dozens of other cities.  Parker probably figured the time was right for Elvis to conquer New York – and Elvis certainly did.  The Colonel originally planned to do three shows at Radio City Music Hall, but when he got a sense of how big these concerts would be, he switched to Madison Square Garden. The single show on Friday and the two on Saturday sold out so quickly that a Sunday show was added.  And, it sold out.  80,000 very happy New York fans were going to see Elvis live.  There was a noticeable buzz in the city leading up to Elvis' visit.

 

Elvis and company blew into town on June 8 in three leased airplanes.  The troupe was seventy-five people strong: the TCB Band, an orchestra, The Sweet Inspirations, JD Sumner and The Stamps, Kathy Westmoreland, tech people, equipment handlers, stagehands, and assorted buddies.

 

The next day, Col. Parker staged a press conference in the Mercury Ballroom of the New York Hilton five hours before the first concert.  Elvis was in a buoyant mood, and had a grand time sparring with the reporters.  Every newscast in the city that night carried a segment on Elvis’ press conference.  The King and The Big Apple.  It was meant for greatness.

 

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Elvis was in good health, he was psyched to do super concerts for the New Yorkers, and he turned on the power.  The concerts were superb.  TCB pianist Glen Hardin said afterwards, “Elvis never sang better than he did at Madison Square Garden.”  Billboard magazine gushed, “Elvis has transcended the exasperating constrictions of time and place.”  The same New York Times that cruelly dismissed Elvis in 1956, now said, “He stood there at the end, his arms stretched out, the great gold cloak giving him wings, a champion, the only one in his class… He looked like a prince from another planet.”

 

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There are more stories to tell about Elvis performing at Madison Square Garden.  For now, let’s end with a question.  If they filmed the press conference, why didn’t they film the concert?  It would have made one heck of a DVD.

 

©  2006   Philip R Arnold   www.elvisblog.net 

 

2 responses to “Like a Prince from Another Planet

  1. Kyle in Beaumont

    I agree they should have filmed it, they should have filmed everything he did, but i have to assume nobody at the time realized what was happening. You can bet if E was alive today every move he made would be filmed. A person recently posted a video on youtube called ” The Chain Suite ” show, which was early in his Vegas run, maybe 1972, it also had ” remastered sound ” or something like that. I stumbled onto it and thought wth i will have a listen, its the best sounding live video that exists of Elvis, bar none. For some reason it has been deleted, well not all the way as it still shows up but when you click it it says its been taken down or something like that. I imagine it has something to do with copy right laws because it has Turner Network stamped on the video as you watch it. It is such a shame that happened, i got to hear it around 20-25 times before it was pulled, hopefully it will be back, add it to your favs on YT and check back from time to time. I listen on my laptop with a set of Sennheiser HD800’s going through a DAC then through a tube amp then to the Senn’s, you cannot get any better than that, and the sound on this concert is unreal. Ronnie on his kit was insane good, you can tell E just told him to go for it, complete confidence in him, also this was before he opened with CC Rider, someone please bring this vid back, how can we get it put back up ??

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