July 31, 1969
International Hotel, Las Vegas, Nv.
Presley´s 1st Live Act in 9 Years Thrills Audience at Vegas Hotel
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) - Elvis Presley, the original rock music king who lately has concentrated on records and movies, made a kingly comeback to live perform-ance.
"It´s the first time I´ve worked in front of people for nine years, and it may be the last, I don´t know," the 34-year-old Presley told his International Hotel audience of some 1,600 Thursday night.
But he had the immodest grin of a man who´s enjoying himself because he knows his audience loves him.
"Still No. 1"
Before his 15th and final song, an older man´s voice yelled, "You´re still No. 1 Elvis," and the rest of the au-dience roared approval.
All the gyrations remembered from Presley´s 1956 launching of rock ´n´ roll and of himself were there - his legs spread apart, shaking his left leg, shaking his head so the hair flew like black straw, rotating the guitar, then a final thrust to the side, his body vibrating all over like a jackhammer.
Most of the whistling, applauding opening night audience was over 30.
Presley sang all his old songs, starting with "Blue Suede Shoes" and including "Love Me Tender," "Jailhouse Rock," "Heartbreak Hotel," and "Hound Dog."
One 25-year-old listener who had earlier expressed himself as having gone on to more sophisticated taste in rock, but having dug Presley when he was 12 years old, said: "I don´t know why it works but it does."
Presley held a news conference after the performance, smiled a lot and cracked some jokes. He told reporters that he was returning to stage performance because he had missed live audiences.
"It was getting harder and harder to perform to a movie camera. The inspiration wasn´t there."
Presley said he wanted to change his movie image. "I´m tired of playing a guy singing to the guy he´s beating up."
The thing he´d most like after his four weeks in Las Vegas is "another appearance somewhere else," he said.
The amount the hotel is paying its second headliner since it opened its doors with Barbra Streisand July 1, was not disclosed. But Presley´s long-time press agent, Col. Tom Parker, said "We are very happy with the deal."
Lyrics of pop songs are getting better, Presley said. He sang his latest hit record, "In the Ghetto," accompanied by a Negro double quartet.
"I like to sing something that is important, something that means something," he said.
"Look at "Ghetto," or "Yesterday" compared with "Hound Dog," he added, referring to one of his first big hits in the mid-1950s. "Hound Dog, what does that say?"
Copyright: Racine, Wi., Journal Times, August 1, 1969
And he´s so SHY!
YOU´VE read the news; you´ve seen the pictures - the King is back with the biggest bang of his 13-year carreer, playing his first live performances for over nine years.
He opened his month-long cabaret season at Las Vegas´ newest and most luxurious hotel, the International on August 1, and rocks through to August 28, one show a night, seven nights a week.
And backing up Elvis Presley with 100 per cent soul are the Sweet Inspirations.
Cissy Houston, Myrna Smith, Sylvia Shemwell and Estelle Brown must be the most famous backing voices in the world. From Aretha Franklin to Dusty Springfield and back via their own records like "What The World Needs Now Is Love," they can justly be called the inspiration of soul.
It was well after midnight, our time, when the trans-atlantic phone crackled into the heart of activity - the main lobby of the International Hotel.
"Isn´t it fantastic," squealed Cissy Houston, hot in from a dusty trip round the Las Vegas desert!
"I always liked Elvis," continued Cissy, "and now I like him even more. We rehearsed for five days before open-ing night, and we all realised at once that this was still the greatest entertainer we had ever met. At the very first rehearsal you could see that. In fact I don´t think he really needed any rehearsals at all, he was straight into it as if he´d never been away."
Myrna came on the line for just 12 excited words.
"He´s gorgeous, really handsome, real trim and a real doll to work with!"
Sylvia said: "He certainly didn´t leave anything to other people. He knew just what he wanted us to do on every number and he personally directed us through rehearsals.
"And you know the most amazing thing? He´s so shy!
We didn´t know quite what to expect at all - the biggest phenomenon in the history of pop making his public return. But if he IS the King he doesn´t act like one.
He´s just like the boy next door still - shy, polite and an absolute knockout.
"Backing him is not so very different from backing Aretha. We didn´t have to change our style, and anyway, Elvis is singing rock-n-roll and soul like never before. My favourite numbers from the act are "Heartbreak Hotel" and "I Can´t Help Falling In Love With You."
"He´d been gone from the scene for so long that I wondered just how good he would be. He couldn´t be better, and everyone loves him. Naturally he´s broken every record in the city and we´ve never worked in an atmosphere quite as electric before."
Do the girls ever get to see him between shows?
"No, it´s a shame. But he´s locked in his room the whole time, and under constant guard by the security men. But really, just working with him is enough."
THIS IS THE PICTURE that makes history, is history and was history!
It could have been taken 12 years ago. The stance is the same, the expression is the same, the guitar looks the same, and the song "Heartbreak Hotel" is the same. The lame suit has vanished, to be replaced by a sort of evening dress karatesuit, and the jet-black hair is a little less greased than before . . . but the rest is the same. In fact, this picture, taken just last week at the current hottest spot in the world of showbusiness, Las Vegas´ International Hotel, completely sums up Elvis Presley, the man. Forget the diabolic films which even he admits now that he hated; forget the bad song after bad song of which he now feels embarrassed . . . just study the picture. This is Elvis Presley making his first concert appearance for over nine years. He looks a man freed from chains, allowed, after nine years of close captivity to return to the life he loves most - legs flailing, guitar bouncing and voice belting out a great rocker from the locker. Study the picture and take heart. The King wears a new crown, his old crown, and he´s back with us where he belongs.
Copyright: Disc and Music Echo, August 16, 1969