Photos above: Elvis arrives in Tuscaloosa.
Pelvis In Motion
Elvis Turns On In Tuscaloosa
November 14, 1971
University of Alabama Field House, Tuscaloosa, Al.
Elvis tore 'em up in Tuscaloosa
The Pelvis had only to shake a hand or a foot to set off a chorus of squeals and a blinding volley of flashbulbs.
When the spirit was really moving him and he shook a whole leg, or his behind, or his impressively black mane, the audience went wild with shouts of ecstatic adulation from his female fans and enough light from clicking cameras to turn the darkened auditorium into day.
Elvis in person is more acrobat and dancer than singer. Indeed, many of the words of his songs are hopelessly lost in the cacophony rising from the adoring multitude.
The ferocity of his fans is plainly embarrassing to the star, although he good-naturedly contrives to accept this vociferous homage as his due.
And he works hard. He comes on at full steam, sings innumerable songs, all the while lunging here and there in an exotic semi dance that only he could carry off, and finally leaves his fans both satisfied and craving more.
PRESLEY`S entrance is staged with almost Hitlerian precision. The orchestra plays the so called "2001" theme, which lasts just long enough for everybody to wonder where their hero will emerge.
One hysterical youth next to me, dressing in bright blue boots and matching outfit, suddenly shrieked, "There he is!" and pointed toward a door where not one soul was visible.
Would Elvis come in from the back? Could he possibly get in from the rear even if he wanted?
The music drones on while everybody ponders such puzzles.
Then, he comes charging in, protected until he reaches the stage by half a dozen hangers-on. The audience is beside itself with excitement.
ELVIS is dressed in one of those hillbilly horrors, all black with gold-colored spangles glistening from all sides. He has a cape that Count Dracula wouldn't have been caught dead in, rich red inside, soot black on the outside and spattered with sequins laid out as if follow-ing the holes of a fusillade from a machine-gun. In other words, his costume is a smashing success.
For some time, Elvis just stands there, hands on hip, drinking in the applause and letting everybody admire him. I am struck by the impression that his neck is slightly thicker but he is otherwise the Elvis of olden days, idol of 10 million girls and ultimate symbol of success for 10 million teen-age boys.
All the old songs are there, to everyone's satisfaction - "Love Me Tender," "Hound Dog," "Heartbreak Hotel," "Blue Suede Shoes." He sings, he walks, he jerks, he struts, he prances, all with maximum energy expendi-ture.
He has only to head toward any edge of the stage to elicit an uproar from the people in that section of the auditorium, always accompanied by a blinding number of flashbulb eruptions.
HE IS A master in the use of the hand microphone, one of the few performers to whom the mike has not become a crutch. He has this bit of stage business about scarves. He wears a bright red one around his neck, occasionally using it to wipe off his sweat. In a few minutes, he tosses the tiny garment to a woman in the audience who nearly dies of excitement. At one point, he let several girls near the stage wipe his forehead and one was so stricken she was unable to move away unaided.
Elvis runs through a huge repertoire, almost entirely consisting of songs he has made famous, although "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Dream the Impossible Dream" and "How Great Thou Art" are included. Finally, he makes a comment about knowing 400 songs and intending to sing 320 of them at this one performance, but he is actually near the end of the show and only does one more number, then makes a dash from the auditorium while security personnel hold back the mob.
The show is over and most people start streaming out. In a few minutes an announcement is made that Elvis has left the building and there's no need for anyone to hang around waiting for another glimpse of him.
What a show.
Some other impressions:
- The most beautiful girl I saw there - aristocratic features and elegant Empire hairdo, wearing plum-colored pants suit - was a shameless idolater. She let out fierce wolf whistles every few seconds, to the consider-able, embarrassment of her more sedate companions.
- AT LEAST 2,000 people are known to have gone to the show from Atlanta. Other large blocks were sold in Birmingham, Montgomery, Meridian and other cities. The Coliseum at the University of Alabama reportedly holds 16,000 and was packed.
- Fully two thirds of the audience was seated an hour before the show started, and almost everybody else was already on the auditorium grounds or in the immediate neighborhood.
- A steak house across the street from the coliseum ran out of food more than an hour before the show started.
- Traffic was bad enough going in, but coming out was a nightmare. The Interstate was jammed all the way back to Birmingham
- Conversation overheard at the Coliseum went roughly like this:
"JOE, HOW much do you think Elvis is getting for this show? A 90-10 (percentage) split?
"Naw. I'd say just as a rough guess he's getting 100 (thousand dollars). It's probably just a flat guarantee."
Copyright: Atlanta Journal, November 21, 1971
by Scott Cain