The King, right, came to Detroit Friday and Detroiters came to the King.
Elvis Quietly Slips Into Town
Elvis Presley, the demigod of rock and roll, arrived in Detroit late Friday for his Olympia concert performance with all the mystery, intrigue and excitement of a top presidential visit.
The aura around him, personified by his presence and created by his management,, can knock you over.
COL. TOM PARKER, his manager, operates like it was 1956 and the fans are waiting to tear his boy apart. There are guards, secrecy, and more guards.
But when you see Elvis, and girls´ reaction to him, you can understand and why. Evidently, 1956 wasn´t all that long ago.
Presley emerged from his limousine at 4:40 p.m. and moved toward the service entrance of the Detroit Hilton, where his troupe had rented 75 rooms. He was dark black hair, black outfit with blue shirt and that cool, cool, almost laughing, almost sullen look behind silver-rimmed blue shades.
About 40 spectators - mostly girls in their early 20s from the nearby Auto Club office - surged around him. First there were squeals, then pushing. Elvis´ guards tried to clear the way. He stopped. Autographs.
Elvis didn´t say anything to the girls. He didn´t have to. A sleepy look, the half smile and a well-practiced lip twitch did the trick.
Not bad for a 35-year-old dude.
The Presley team, a slick assortment of bodyguards and front men, took over the Hilton about 10:30 a.m. Friday when the first six taxis loaded with Elvis people arrived.
They prowled the hotal and greeted other Elvis people then left at 2:15 p.m. to meet Elvis and his chartered jet at Metro Airport.
A Hilton clerk said the crew - including band members and enough hangers on to staff a medium size street riot - rented the 75 rooms on the upper two floors of the hotel.
Above: Copyright, Detroit Free Press, September 12, 1970
Below: additional photos from Elvis´ arrival in Detroit.
The Elvis people - especially Parker - are forceful but restrained, aloof but charming. One man, obviously a bodyguard, was asked before Elvis´ arrival if he was with the Presley traveling troupe.
"Why?" he said gruffly.
"Uh, we´d like to get a picture of him."
"I can´t do anything for you," he said as he walked away.
The Presley mania touches even those remotely connect-ed with his arrival.His group made reservations at all of Detroit´s major hotels, apparently to keep his real resting spot a secret.
A motel in Mt. Clemens had been designated last month to be the spot. A man at the desk of the place, who said: "I´m just here, that´s all . . . I can´t say anything more or who I am," denied Friday Elvis would be using the es-tablishment.
Elvis´ arrival even sparked a new contract agreement between Local 705 of the Hotel Restaurant and Bar Employes union at Olympia Friday afternoon.
Screaming fans tell Elvis they´re still his
Elvis Presley, head thrown back, feet wide apart, reach-ing out for adoration - hearing an old sound from more than 16,000 turned-on fans last night at Olympia.
The frantic screams reached the rafters of the old build-ing abd hung there - an umbrella of screams.
It was a sound Elvis hasn´t heard for a long time in the more sophisticated circles of movie-making and Las Vegas, and if you were close enough to the stage, you could see him breathing in the emotional impact he had on his audience.
ELVIS NEEDED to know up close that in the last 13 years, those screaming youngsters who had closed in on ag 30 or passed it, haven´t forgotten him.
They haven´t. He knows now. Along the way, he has picked up some new fans who are too young to remember the Elvis of old.
At 35, Elvis is still youthful and trim, the jaw firm, hair jet black and long.
He may shake his head more now than the hop bones connected to the thigh bones, but he still can throw a mean bump.
The main differences in Elvis today from the young man who appeared at Olympia in March, 1957, is a mellow-ness. There is less arrogance in the man and more humor.
During his fine performance last night, he smiled often and laughed at his own antics.
But, even in an all-white jump suit with white shoes and Indian belt, there is still a touch of the "grease" in Elvis.
Above: Copyright, Detroit News, September 12, 1970
Below: Additional photos from Elvis´ show.
It´s the way he moves about the stage with a touch of rebellious spirit that makes you believe Elvis might still ride off in a motorcycle any minute.
THE PURISTS have never given Elvis´ singing voice due credit. He may be highly stylized and rough hews, but underneath there is a sound baritone, particularly in the ballads.
Singing his early nunmbers, "Heartbreak Hotel," "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Johnny Be Good," reveals the impact that Elvis had on rock. His place in musical history is assured.
And when he sang "You Ain´t Nothing But a Hound Dog," the lyrics may have been laughable, but the beat is
His version of the lamentable "How Time Slips Away" was tender and caressing. If there is a raw power in the man, there also is great sensitivity.
An evening with Elvis Presley will make television viewer realize how much Tom Jones has copied Elvis´ style and that the real product is so much better.
Outside Olympia after the show, fans still talked with lingering excitement and some young girls cried while clutching their autographed pictures of the star.
One young girl triumphantly walked away with Elvis´ red scarf.
Some things just never change.
Below. Article and photos from Rocky Barra´s Strictly Elvis magazine, no. 30 and 31.
From Elvis in Detroit
When I heard that Elvis was set to do a concert tour, that included Detroit, I could hardly believe the news. This was the news that I had been waiting so long to hear. Sure, it´s great that he was doing appearances in Las Vegas. . . . .if you could arrange to go and hear him. I was fortunate enough to do this, but what about the many thousands of fans that couldn´t? At the International Hotel, everything is just perfect. . . the sound, the setting, the lighting; but this tour afforded Elvis a more personal contact with the masses.
The concert was to be held in Olympia Stadium, a huge indoor arena generally used for ice shows, hockey games, and other road attractions. When I heard when tickets were to go on sale, I called a few of my friends (Taylor Scott, Bob mooradian, and Fred Parish) to make plans to camp out all night in front of the box office. We arrived there about 10:00 the night before tickets were due to go on sale well equipped with a portable record player, records, my guitar, and lots of Elvis records.
Tickets were set to go on sale at 10:00 AM, but by 7:00 the line numbered well into the hundreds. By the time the box office opened, there were thousands of people waiting in line for tickets. I got a chance to talk to many of them. You know, Elvis has thousands of fans who are "real" fans and extremely loyal, but don´t belong to any fan clubs. Many of these people had taken off from work, just to come down early and try and purchase good seats. I had to buy 58 tickets myself for some of my Elvis friends, and subscribers that couldn´t make it down to Olympia to stand in line. After obtaining the tickets, I was interviewed for a TV bit that they were doing on the ticket sales. Never, never in Detroit´s showbusiness history had there been an advance "rush" like this. All the papers were down there to cover it, several radio stations and the local television news crews. One of our local stations, WWJ-TV, ran a special
show on Elvis three times that day. . . including portions of Elvis records, photos, and interviews with myself and others who stood in line. All of a sudden, the town had gone completely "Elvis crazy." When I got home, there was a call for me to appear on "The Morning Show," a local television show. I sang three or four numbers, and talked about the forthcoming Elvis concert. Our main rock station, WKNR, began what they called "The Elvis Story," where they gave away free Elvis tickets and played one of his records about every third song.
All of a sudden, the papers carried a story about the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union going on strike, and threatening to picket the Elvis concert, September. The public put so much pressure on that the strike was quickly settled.
The Colonel and Elvis had instructed the people who set up the tour to set a top of $10.00 per seat, which enabled everyone to attend.
Because there were a lot of Elvis friends of mine soming to the convert from out of town, I invited them to stay at our house. Thursday, the 10th , they started to arrive. Larry Koller from Cleveland, Steve and Sue Toli from Boston, Dick Smith, Bill Lund and Maureen Hagen from Minnesota, Nancy Carol Beecher from Milwaukee, plus several Elvis fans from the area spent better part of the weekend at my house. We began calling 35244 Parkdale, "Heartbreak Hotel." It was great.
Friday, September 11, was the day of the concert. Elvis´ arrival in Detroit was surrounded by a ton and a half of security. First of all, Col. Parker made reservations (in Elvis´ name) ahead of time at every major hotel in Detroit. This threw everyone off as at least three hotel owners advertized that Elvis would be staying at their establishment. Every ten minutes my phone would ring with some fans telling me that Elvis had been seen at
some location, and then ten minutes later, he was supposed to be 50 miles away. Not even Elvis can move that fast. It was kind of funny. . . but Colonel Parker achieved his goal of keeping everyone guessing.
The concert was to start at 8:30, so we arrived at the Olympia around 6:00. Now you must picture that this is a huge structure, with enough seats to hold 14,500 people. But tonight , there were well over 17,000 packed into the arena. People were standing 5 and 6 deep all the way around the arena. You could not fit even a small puppy in.
We were sitting in the first row, just to the right of the stage. Most of us recognized Felton Jarvis, LaMarr Fite, and several of Elvis´ friends by the stage. Of course, Mr. Tom Diskin and Colonel Parker were busy with last minute details.
At 8:30 exactly, the lights began to dim. . . . and electri-city filled the air. The band was on stage when the Sweet Inspirations, preceeded by The Hugh Jarrett Singers each did three numbers. Then it was stated that there would be a short intermission. Now during the first portio (Inspirations and Jarrett Singers) the P.A. system wasn´t loud enough, and it distorted quite a bit. I was worried that Elvis would not sound at his best.
The lights went down once again, and the thunderour beat of "That´s All Right, Mama" began. Elvis walked out on stage, looking better than ever in a white jump suit with gold chains all over and a red scarf tucked inside his shirt.
Over 17,000 people were packed into the arena, and bedlam broke loose. It was a constant mass of screaming. . . . you couldn´t hear a word of "That´s All Right, Mama." The flashcubes were going so strong that
the stadium was turned into one giant strobe light. The Beatles, Stones, Jones. . . .NOBODY had ever received this kind of reception in Detroit before.
Elvis immediately went into "I Got A Woman," and the screaming intensified even more to a fever pitch. The P.A. system was now working perfectly, and every word Elvis sang came out crystal clear. Elvis tagged a little bit of the "Amen" chorus on the end of "I Got A Woman," and then went into his now famous half-time ending, which really tore the house down.
Elvis then introduced himself saying, "Good Evening ladies and gentlemen. . . I´m Johnny Cash," and went into a verse of "I Walk The Line." Elvis imitated Cash´s monotone perfectly on this. Then he threw his guitar down and din on the LP.Elvis then introduced.
The screaming continued in a constant tide of sound, but Elvis continued. He told how he played Detroit in 1956 (when he was just a little baby. . . then a little crack about Tom Jones, that I ´didn´t catch) and he said, "I´d like to do my first movie song. . . ." After the first three words of "Love Me Tender," the screams drowned out most everything else. It was fantastic.
While the Sweet Inspirations, Hugh Jarrett Singers, and Sammy Shore were on, there really wasn´t much response. The patrons had come for one purpose. . . .to see Elvis. But now that he was on stage, the entire arena was in the palm of his hand.
"I have a new record out, ladies and gentlemen," Elvis said. . . . .and went into "I´ve Lost You." This was performed very similar to the single. On this song, Elvis seemed a little displeased with the P.A. sound. He glanced over to the man who was working the system and yelled, "Crank it up." "I´ve Lost You" was great.
one. As much as the crowd had been screaming at a constant pace throughout the show, it was almost completely quiet for this song. . . except for a few girls yelling out "I love you" and the likes. But after he finished, the applause was deafening.
Then Elvis sang "Funny How Time Slips Away." After Steve and Sue Toli recovered, everyone enjoyed this song very much. Elvis wasn´t able to kiss the girls in the front row here, because the stage was much too high. But he spotted a little girl (perhaps 3 or 4 years old) with leg braces on. During this song he went over to her side of the stage, reached down, picked her up and kissed her on the cheek. She looked so happy. This was the only kiss he gave out at the Detroit concert, and it was very touching. . . so much like Elvis.
Next came the exciting "Suspicious Minds." Elvis really got into this one. It wasn´t as long as I had heard him do it in Las Vegas, but fantastic just the same. When Elvis discovered this Mark James classic, he found himself the ideal closer for his show. When the song finally faded out at the end, and Elvis was lying down on the stage, Ronnie Tutt on drums, gave out with a series of staggered beats and Elvis worked himself up to a standing position with a series of karate chops. Then the band ended on one extended chord.
Elvis went immediately into "You´ve Lost That Loving Feeling." I have never, never heard Elvis´ voice more powerful or more dynamic than it was on this number. I can´t wait to see it in the new movie. The band and vocal backing was as superb as Elvis on this great number. This is the best I´ve EVER heard Elvis sound. One of my friends reached over and said, "How can he sound so much better in person than on records?" It´s true. . .Elvis seems to gain strength from the audience he´s performing before. On the line in the song where it goes, "Baby, baby, I get down on my knees for you. . ." Elvis sank down to his knees, and many girls rushed the stage.
Elvis then went into "Polk Salad Annie." During the intro, he turned his back to the audience and leterally ripped open his suit, tearing off the chains and pulling his scarf out over his bare chest. The way he did this really cracked up the crowd. "Polk Saad Annie" was faster than the "On Stage" version, and had a lot more show to it. He added accentuations with the drum beats that tore the place apart. During the song, the music toned down a little and Elvis called out, "Jones," and did some exaggerated Tom Jones motions. The place went wild. Then he held up his hands to say wait, and yelled out "Humperdink." He then cuddled the mike and gave that scared Englebert look. . . . . more screams. Then he called out, "Glen Campbell," and did that little two step thing Campbell does, yelling out in a high pitched voice, "Hot Damn you all." It was really funny. Then he pointed to himself and said, "Me!" Elvis was all over the stage with his movements. It was incredible. He did the extended ending just like on the album. The crowd was going insane. After the song was over, Elvis just fell down backwards on the stage. . . . the fans in the stadium went wild. He was laying flat down on his back and saying into a mike, "Man, I´m tired. . . I think I´ll do the rest of the show like this."
Elvis then said, "Thank you. . .you´re a fine crowd here in Detroit City. . .thank you very much." He then went into "Can´t Help Falling In Love." During this song, he took off his scarf and threw it towards the little girl. . . but about seven older girls dived over her and retrieved it.
As soon as the song was over, Elvis ran quickly off the stage into the arms of about 50 officials. The first two people to greet him were his father and Col. Parker. The band went directly into a rocking instrumental, and an announcer came on and told the crowd, "Thank you for being such a nice audience. . . Elvis has left the building."
Suddenly, it was all over. The concert really left us with a good feeling. If there were any doubts at all that Elvis´ wasn´t the King, they were dispelled after this tour. Elvis came to Detroit. . . and Elvis conquered Detroit. It was as simple as that. Now the conditions in Las Vegas are so different, that it is hardly right to consider this concerts tour and the International appearances on the same plane of entertainment. This tour had been a long time coming, and Elvis proved himself in every single city. Every concert was a complete sellout!
He then stood up and started to introduce the group. When he got to James Burton, he pointed and Burton went into a frantic "Johny B. Goode." During this song, Elvis was playing the microphone like a guitar (if you can picture what I mean). This was a very similar arrangement to the version on the LP.
Elvis then introduced the rest of the band, and said, "I had a record out this year. . . it went like this. . ." and started "The Wonder Of You." The applause and screaming were deafening. This was one of Elvis´ biggest hits, and Detroit showed their approval. Elvis sounded much better on this than he did on the single version. . .accentuating some of the words.
After the applause finally died down, Elvis did a little bit of "Detroit City." Then "Heartbreak Hotel." He explained that he was just a baby driving a truck when this song came out. Needless to say, there was a lot of response for Elvis´ first million seller. At one point, Elvis stopped singing and threw a towell over his head. Great performance on this one. Elvis then went into a frantic medley of "Blue Suede Shoes, " "Whole Lotta Shakin´ Goin´ On," and "All Shook Up." While he was singing "Shoes," he stuck his foot up to his mouth, and stood on one leg.
Next came the one and only "Hound Dog." This has become an Elvis institution, and the fans had been waiting for this one. After a comic introduction Elvis went into "You ain´tttttttt. . .nothin´ but a houn´ dog." His movements were great on this one.
After finishing the song, Elvis said "I´d like to get serious for a minute and sing "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." This is one of the most moving and sensitive songs Elvis has ever done. I thought his arrangement was much more dynamic than Simon and Garfunkle´s version. There was only a single spot on his face for this
After the concert, I had to rush back to the club I was working at, and sing for the rest of the night. No fewer than 150 people from the Elvis concert came in, and we had a ball. When I got home, we all stayed up until 5:30 talking about the concert, playing tapes, and just having a great time.
Now that it is all over, I´m wondering when I´ll get to see Elvis perform again. That´s the way it is you know. . . . . If you get to see one show, you want to see two. If you see five, you want to see six. If you get to see Elvis perform nine hundred times, you would be begging to see him the nine hundred and first time. He leaves you with this kind of feeling. . . and that´s why he´s different.
This tour was one of the most successful ventures of Elvis´ carreer. . . and it looks as if we can look for more of them in the future. By all means, if you have any kind of chance at all to see Elvis perform. . . . . don´t miss it. I know it´s getting trite, but, "You never know hos great he really is until you see him perform in person." Truer words were never spoken.
Below: Additional photos from Detroit