The famous picture of Elvis in his gold lamé suit is one of the most iconic images in the world. It has appeared so many places on the web that there is no need to reproduce it here. You know the picture. However, for years I have been collecting other photos of Elvis in that suit, and you probably haven’t seen most of them before. So, let’s take a look at the most interesting ones.
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Elvis and Nudie: The man standing next to Elvis is Nudie Cohn who created the gold lame suit in 1957. This creation rocketed Nudie to stardom and cemented his place in fashion history. He is also given credit for being the first designer to put rhinestones on the outfits of country music singers, which led to the term Rhinestone Cowboy. For more information on Nudie, check out his website here.
Elvis first wore the gold lame suit on March 28, 1957 during a performance at the International Amphitheater in Chicago. He wore the complete suit (jacket, pants, belt, tie and shoes) just two more times, in St. Louis the next night and later in the week in Toronto.
A Different Look: This photo was shot in Toronto on April 2, 1957. It was the last time Elvis would wear the gold pants. Copyright laws on photos are different in Canada than in the USA. They last for the rest of the year in which a photo was taken, plus 50 years. But they can’t be renewed. Ultimately, photographer Andrews Newton gave the photos and their copyrights to the City of Ottawa Archives. But, on January 1, 2008, the picture went into the public domain. My friend Alan Hanson, chief blogger honcho of www.Elvis-History-Blog.com, discovered this situation and made 8×10 high resolution copies of the original of this and many other concert photos. He has them for sale on his blog site for $6. I bought five of them, and they now adorn my ElvisBlog computer station. I find cool pictures of Elvis from 1957 very inspiring.
Gold Coat, Black Pants: This is another photo available from Alan – on stage in Ottawa on April 3, 1957. As you may know, Elvis disliked the gold pants. He thought they were heavy and didn’t fit him well. In addition, Elvis frequently dropped to his knees during performances, and this wore off the gold. Consequently, he switched to black pants while performing in the gold coat. Also gone was the gold tie. A much better look for Elvis, don’t you think.
Elvis In Motion: This is another photo from Alan’s collection taken at the same concert, and it is one of my all-time favorite Elvis pictures. You can be sure the audience was screaming when this one was taken. To me, it is the essence of Elvis in concert, and I couldn’t wait to spend $6 for a copy of it. When it arrived and I first looked at it, I thought Elvis was jumping and his feet were off the stage. What do you think?
Gold Coat In Color: This is another concert photo, but it is not near as dramatic as the previous shots. I believe this one was colorized. I wish the first two pictures above were too, because you could easily see that the shoes were gold. When Elvis toured again in late summer 1957, he no longer wore the gold shoes. Of all the Elvis memorabilia, I think I would most prefer to own Elvis’ golden shoes. Dream on, Phil.
Gold Pants, No Gold Coat: This is the reverse. Elvis seems to be pretty happy, but we can’t tell how well the pants fit. I don’t know who the two guys are.
Elvis and Boots: This photo of Boots Randolph on stage with Elvis was taken on March 25, 1961 at the Bloch Auditorium in Honolulu. All proceeds from the concert went toward the USS Arizona Memorial. The USS Arizona was one of twelve American warships sunk by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Note that the shirt is different than in the earlier photos. This was the last time Elvis wore the famous gold lamé coat.
On Display at Graceland: I’m not sure, but I think this is a photo of a previous exhibition display. Graceland obtained the suit as part of the huge collection of Elvis memorabilia it purchased from Col. Parker after Elvis’ death. You can’t see the knees, but Alan was there two years ago, and he said they showed no signs of wear. He speculates that the Graceland archives people restored the pants to their original appearance.
Today at Graceland: I believe this is a shot of the current display at Graceland. The legs are too dark to see anything, and you really can’t tell if the gold shoes are there.
Mr. Gold Piano Man: Elvis wearing the gold coat while playing the piano. He looks like a young Liberace. That’s scary.
OK, that was a look at the serious side of the gold suit. Next week, we will look at “Fun With Gold Lamé.”
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