Elvis in Concert
|Elvis in Concert|
|Written by||Annett Wolf|
|Directed by||Dwight Hemion|
|Music by||Joe Guercio
|Country of origin||United States|
Rita Scott (associate producer)
Bernard Sofronski (supervising producer)
|Running time||50 minutes|
|Original release||October 3, 1977|
Elvis In Concert is a posthumous 1977 TV special starring Elvis Presley. It was Elvis' third and final TV special, following Elvis (a.k.a. The '68 Comeback Special) and Aloha From Hawaii. It was filmed during Presley's final tour in the cities of Omaha, Nebraska, on June 19, 1977, and Rapid City, South Dakota, on June 21, 1977. It was broadcast on CBS on October 3, 1977, two months after Presley's death. It is one of only few of Elvis' programs which remains unlikely to ever be commercially released on home video and is only available in bootleg form. The reason for this is because it showed Elvis near the end of his life when he was overweight and addicted to prescription drugs (the later also seems to affect his performance). However, parts of the special were used in the video documentary Elvis: The Great Performances and the theatrical documentary This is Elvis, both of which were released on home video.
On June 1, 1977, it was announced that Elvis Presley had signed a deal with CBS for a new television special. It was agreed that CBS would videotape concerts during the summer of 1977. The final special was culled from footage from two performances on June 19, 1977, in Omaha, and June 21, 1977, in Rapid City, although much of the footage from Omaha was considered unusable due to sound and performance problems. This concert has been heavily edited and bootlegs have appeared on auction web sites over the years. The show was shot on NTSC videotape although many film conversions have appeared over the years. The crew also filmed footage of Elvis at the airport in Indianapolis, receiving a gold record from RCA Records for his final album, Moody Blue, on June 26. This is the last known footage of Elvis ever filmed, and he can be seen wearing his favorite DEA jacket.
During the special, Presley performs a number of songs spanning his career. During one song, "Are You Lonesome Tonight?," just before Elvis goes into the recitation part of the song, the music is faded down and a devoted female fan is shown talking about her determination to see Elvis live in concert, then it switches back to Elvis after the recitation was finished. This may have been done so that viewers would not have to see Elvis fumbling through the recitation, although this footage was included in the later documentary This Is Elvis to illustrate his poor condition at the time, and the recitation was left intact on the soundtrack album as well. However, a strong case is made in Darrin Memmer's book "Elvis Presley - The 1977 CBS Television Special," published in 2001 by Morris Publishing, that Elvis regularly played around with the words during the recitation of the song when performing it onstage, rather than it being a case of poor memory. Indeed, a concert recording of Presley similarly joking around during the recitation of "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" dating from 1969 has been issued by RCA on numerous occasions. Dubbed the "Laughing Version" (due to Elvis breaking into fits of laughter during the recitation), it even made the UK charts after Presley's death; and he also poked fun at the song during his 1968 Comeback Special, pretending to mumble the recitation instead of speaking it.
Presley also sings his much-performed "My Way," although he has to use a lyric sheet on this occasion, despite having performed the song several years through the 1970s without having to refer to a lyric sheet. Presley also removed both of his then-current singles, “Moody Blue” and “Way Down,” from the setlist; Presley had forgotten the lyrics to "Moody Blue" when attempting to perform it in North Carolina on Feb. 20, 1977. Due to multiple audience requests the following night (also in North Carolina), Presley performed Moody Blue once again for the first and last time live and complete.
According to Roy Carr and Mick Farren in Elvis: The Illustrated Record, CBS officials considered postponing broadcast of the special in hopes of obtaining better performance footage of Presley, but his death in August 1977 cancelled this plan. Its broadcast received mixed reaction; Carr and Farren condemned it as a "travesty", adding, "Had it been shown during his lifetime, it would have caused more irrevocable damage to what was left of his career than almost a decade of starring in third-rate movies."
A misconception regarding Elvis in Concert stems from a statement broadcast by Presley's father, Vernon Presley at the program's conclusion (and also included on the soundtrack album) in which he told viewers that they had just witnessed Elvis' final performance. In fact, Presley made five more concert appearances before giving what would be his final show in Indianapolis, Indiana, on June 26. However, the CBS special was Elvis' last professionally recorded concert. The special actually contains two messages by Elvis' father: one taped in a hotel room during the tour in June when Elvis was still alive, and the other taped in the back office of Graceland shortly after his death, where Vernon thanks the many people who sent letters and cards after Elvis' death.
Allmusic called it Presley's worst, saying, "it's hard to believe that CBS-TV actually would have aired the show if Presley hadn't died two months later, making it his final recorded performance (and making his records big sellers again)." The fan site Elvis Information Network deemed the program "a challenging special to watch... The pudginess of his face and his substantial girth is a long way from the panther like sleekness exhibited in Elvis: That's the Way It Is, a documentary about Presley released in 1970."
It was the highest rated prime time program of the week upon its airing, with a 33.0 Nielsen rating representing 24.1 million homes.
This special has never been released on VHS or DVD, and Elvis' estate has issued a statement saying that they have "no plans" to release the special, due to the fact that Elvis was visibly "far from his best in the way he looked and the way he performed."
Footage from this special has, however, appeared elsewhere on home video: the performances of "Are You Lonesome Tonight", "Love Me" and "My Way" were used in 1981's This Is Elvis, and the performance of "Unchained Melody" (which was not featured on the original CBS telecast) appeared in the 1990 home video release, The Great Performances, Volume One: Center Stage.
List of songs / scenes
- Elvis fans' comments
- Footage of stage setup and pre-show souvenir sales
- Introduction ("Also sprach Zarathustra")
- "See See Rider"
- "That's All Right"
- "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" (combined with a fan's comment)
- "Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel"
- Elvis fans' comments
- "You Gave Me a Mountain"
- "Jailhouse Rock"
- Elvis fans' comments
- "How Great Thou Art"
- Elvis fans' comments
- "I Really Don't Want To Know"
- Elvis introduces his father, Vernon, and his girlfriend Ginger Alden
- "Hound Dog"
- "My Way"
- "Can't Help Falling in Love" (combined with Vernon's comment on Elvis' early career)
- Closing vamp
- Final message from Vernon Presley
- Elvis Presley – vocals, acoustic guitar, piano
- James Burton – lead guitar
- John Wilkinson – rhythm guitar
- Charlie Hodge – acoustic guitar, vocals
- Jerry Scheff – bass
- Ronnie Tutt – drums
- Tony Brown – piano
- The Sweet Inspirations, J.D. Sumner & the Stamps Quartet, Kathy Westmoreland – vocals
- Joe Guercio – orchestra
- Bobby Ogdin - electric piano and keyboard, clavinet
RCA Records released a soundtrack album in conjunction with the television special's broadcast. The album augments the televised performances with a second album of additional recordings made during the Omaha and Rapid City concerts. The concert soundtrack album was released in October 1977 and peaked on the chart in November 1977. The album reached #5 on the Billboard album charts. The album, however, omitted many of the features from the TV show; including some of the fans' comments, audio of the stage setup and souvenir sales, the fan's comment during "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" (thus allowing Elvis' flawed recitation of the song to be included), and Vernon Presley's comment during "Can't Help Falling in Love."
- For Elvis Fans Only: Press Release From Presley Estate Archived 2009-05-04 at the Wayback Machine..
- Elvis Information Network: Elvis in Concert VCD Review.
- "Focus on Elvis: Elvis on Tour 1977". Archived from the original on 2006-01-04.
- Carr and Farren (1982), p. 166.
- Carr and Farren (1982), p. 140.
- allmusic.com, "Elvis in Concert". Accessed 11 December 2012.
- (12 October 1977). ABC Retains Grip on Audience, Abilene Reporter-News (Associated Press story) ("CBS' "Elvis in Concert," taped highlights of two of Elvis Presley's last live shows, was the week's most watched program. Broadcast on the night of Oct. 3, it was seen in an estimated 24.1 million homes.")
- Roy Carr and Mick Farren, Elvis: The Illustrated Record (Harmony Books, 1982).