Following years of making Hollywood movies and their associated soundtracks in the 1960’s, Elvis Aaron Presley (January 8th, 1935 – August 16th, 1977) had not performed a live concert since 1961. So after a 7 year break he made his mighty return to the stage during his 1968 comeback special: Elvis (a must see!) which was also televised live and ultimately lead to him performing for many years in sold out shows in Las Vegas, numerous successful concert tours and the 1973 special Aloha from Hawaii (another must see!) which was broadcast around the world via satellite. The King was back and much of this late 1960’s period is covered in the displays of the impressive ELVIS: The Exhibition, which is presented by Graceland and displayed in the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino.
In my previous post I discussed the displays on the early career of Elvis Presley, now lets take a look at his comeback period commencing in the late 1960’s. The exhibition includes photos, memorabilia, mementos, clothing (costume designer Bill Belew who made the famous jumpsuits that Elvis wore on stage from 1969 to 1977 also designed Elvis’s off stage clothes in the 1970’s too), jewelry, documents, letters, personal items and a glimpse into Graceland, his Memphis home (purchased in March 1957 for $102,500 USD). This is all accompanied by information boards and multimedia displays playing his music, interviews, movies and more.
Graceland the home of Elvis Presley
There is even a couple of cars owned by Elvis on display at the exhibition: a 1962 Lincoln Continental (purchased in Las Vegas and customised to suit Elvis – white with an alligator gold top. Note the rear doors that open away from the front doors) and a mean looking black 1971 Stutz Blackhawk (the Blackhawk was crashed by a hired driver in 1971 but is now fully restored and looks fantastic – it was the first one sold in the United States and presented to Elvis in Las Vegas in 1970. Legend has it the car was meant to go to Frank Sinatra but Elvis charmed the car dealer to sell it to him instead!).
The cars are joined by a 1957 Harley Davidson motorcycle that Elvis once rode – he was apparently a keen big bike enthusiast. These are all good looking machines and seem to fit into the style and persona of the man that was.
One of the last things you see in the exhibition is the famous white suite Elvis wore during the 1968 comeback special whilst singing “If I can Dream“. One of the docent’s told me that Colonel Tom Parker had intended to cut up this outfit to give swatches of the material away, when someone purchased a record. Luckily it was saved by a friend of Elvis and later returned to him (the guy didn’t like the fake pockets apparently)!
Elvis was back! In my next post we will cover the glorious jumpsuited Las Vegas years of the 1970’s. The shows were over the top in presentation but in the end that amazing voice was all anyone cared about. Thank you very much!