From Down Under
by Geoffrey Mc Donnell (Australia)
Elvis had 3 weeks break from leaving Las Vegas until he came out for his first tour of 1975.The reason for the tour was that on On Thursday January 9th , the day after Elvis's Birthday a random event caught the Colonels eye in the newspaper. Their had been a Tornado in Mc Comb, Mississippi ,that had killed 10 people and caused millions of dollars of property damage. The Colonel knew Elvis wasn't working and was suffering depression and a terrible self-destructive decline that he wasn't sure how he was going to stop and turn around into positive things again. The McComb disaster gave him a galvanizing reason to get Elvis to commit to touring again and get him out of his funk.
So Colonel on 10th January along with George Parkhill they flew to Memphis to see Elvis. Upon their arrival a very heavy looking Elvis met them downstairs to talk with them in the dining room. Elvis had read about the Mc Comb disaster and agreed that it was really terrible. Once the Colonel suggested they do a benefit concert in Jackson for the victims ...and also add a few extra dates as well Elvis liked the idea and agreed to do it. This meant that he was agreeing to go back to work and Touring. He also agreed to have Tom and the Colonel go down to the Governor in Mississippi and discuss it.
That same night @ 11pm they were discussing this plan with the Governor and tying up the Jackson Coliseum to the 5th May date and ALL money made from the concert to be donated to the Tornado benefit. Of course the Colonel also arranged for 3 paying dates to be scheduled for Jackson in June! This announcement went out to the Newspapers the very next day and a full 2 week tour was booked to start 3 weeks after Elvis's Vegas schedule had ended. Of course Elvis's health deteriated much worse as he became hospitalized on 29th January but after he was weaned back to health in February by March 10th he was well enough to record a new Album of songs and rehearse for his Vegas engagement too! So the starting point for this 1975 touring 'focus' all goes back to the idea for a benefit concert for the Mc Comb twister Tornado victims. A brilliant idea from the Colonel! Although Sheila came on the tour no objection was raised when Mindi Miller came on the first part of it. Once the reviews got past the part of saying he was pale and slightly overweight, they noticed that the fans still loved him and were crazy at the shows still!
Sue Demerly ©
Suits worn for this tour were the SAME as recently used in Las Vegas and so was his repertoire ( with the addition of his new single release T.R.O.U.B.L.E. ) generally Elvis appeared pale and tired for the first week of the tour and quite obviously his health had slipped slightly since closing in Vegas. Sheila Ryan was his main girlfriend for this tour and NO rehearsals were held before starting the tour in Macon, Georgia on 24th April 1975.One important point raised from my Friend Evan Mueller was that actually these so-called 2 piece suits were in fact 1 piece suits! Point taken from a photo of Elvis in his 2 piece white suit in Sean Shavers Elvis book 3 where you can see inside the white 2 piece and see that there is a zipper inside and no shirt up to the buttons and that Elvis must have got into these suits in the traditional 1 piece suit zipper way!. In other words these suits were HOT and he couldn’t take the Jacket ‘off’ to reveal a shirt underneath-because their wasn’t one!. No wonder he went back to Jumpsuits from the next tour!.
Macon, GA April 24
E/S CD From Vegas To Macon, disc 2
Rider;I Got A Woman/Amen; Dialogue; Love Me; If You Love Me Let Me Know; You
Don't Have To Say You Love Me; Big Boss Man; It's Midnight; Promised Land;
Fairytale; Burning Love; Introductions/J.B.Goode/Solo's/ Hail, Hail Rock'n'Roll;
My Boy; T.R.O.U.B.L.E; I'll Remember You ;Let Me Be There; American Trilogy;
Funny How Times Slip Away; That's All Right; Can't Help Falling In Love.Closing
Navy Blue 2-PieceBlue & Gold Trim
George Hill © Macon, GA April 24, 1975
The track listing was quite impressive with a good mix of ballads and Rock too. ( based directly on his recent Vegas song line up! ) Less impressive was Elvis’s quite obvious lack of rehearsal that the first 2 shows this tour.Elvis at times seemed to be sloppy and holding ‘stage rehearsals’ ( Elvis was messing up the words he had to read to his new song T.R.O.U.B.L.E. ) Whilst other songs clearly showed the lack of rehearsal ( Promised Land-lacking punch, Big Boss Man-NOT as good as in Vegas and It’s Midnight-not bad despite this. Fairytale was clearly too slow. ) All things considered his opening show was good ( as indeed virtually all his shows were ) but showed that his performance had dropped down a notch in energy level, somewhat slower and less demanding than before ( something that J.Scheff noticed upon his return to the band ) As Elvis was singing it’s like he was struggling to perform the ‘Rockers’ to as higher standard as he’d done recently in Vegas, By the time he got too Tampa his shows sounded ok more polished, but that was only after he dropped some of the more demanding songs like Big Boss Man and Promised Land- replacing them with Scarf giving out numbers such as Teddy Bear/Don’t Be Cruel and Love Me Tender. Generally he held satisfying shows for fans and got generally good reviews.
His Humour was
evident as when he introduced the Joe Guercio Orchestra he’d add “Joe is
conducting a very small part of the Orchestra”( mostly just a horn section ) The
flute solo still featured in '' An American Trilogy '' and he’d kid that his new
song was as “ fast as hands in the West! ” Elvis gave out a large amount of
scarves in each show as well. In fact Elvis also encouraged Kathy Westmoreland
to give out a scarf and a kiss to a guy as well. It was quite obvious from the
way over the top praise Elvis was giving J.Scheff with his bass solo in Macon
that he was more than delighted to have him back and replacing Duke Bardwell.
Elvis opened in Macon by introducing himself as Johnny Cash and saying it’s
great to be back in Atlanta! Before the intros Elvis Joked that he’d like to
lay down for a few minutes and strangely offers some ‘ mild ’ ‘ barbs ’ by
introducing the Sweets as ‘ just average ’ yet praises up the Stamps Quartet!.
Following this show Elvis flew directly to Jacksonville and he arrived at the
Hilton Hotel before Dawn. The next day 80 fans spotted Elvis on the Balcony in
his White pajamas and blue velour robe. When the fans shouted to Elvis ‘stand
up’ he jokingly put one leg over the railing as though he was going to jump!
In unison the fans sighed and Elvis only waved at them.
April 25th E/S CD A Damn Fine Show
2001 Theme:C, C
Rider; I Got A Woman/Amen;dialogue;Love Me; If You Love Me Let Me Know; You
Don't Have To Say You Love Me; Big Boss Man; It's Midnight; Burning Love;
Introductions / What'd I Say / Solos / Hail Hail Rock'n'Roll; My Boy; T.R.O.U.B.L.E;
I'll Remember You; Let Me Be There; An American Trilogy; Funny How Times Slip
Away ;That's Allright;Heartbreak Hotel;Can't Help Falling in Love. Closing Vamp/Announcements.
White 2-Piece With
George Hill © Jacksonville, FL April 25, 1975
Jacksonville still showed an ‘unrehearsed’ performer but he got away
with it-and performed a particularly impressive physical version of ‘Burning
Love’.( This can be seen on partial footage of this show ) Tonight he introduces
himself as Wayne Newton and says it’s a pleasure to be back in Tampa!. Tonight
Big Boss Man seems very poor and again Elvis just introduces the Sweets as
‘just fair’.In getting Kathy to give out another scarf tonight he adds that
‘what’s good for the Goose is good for the Gander!’. Actually I found his
singing less good than the opening tour show tonight. The fans are still
Tampa, FL April 26th
A/S CD The King Rocks On Tampa
2001 Theme; C, C
Rider; I Got A Woman/Amen; If You Love Me Let Me Know; Love Me Tender; Teddy
Bear/Don't Be Cruel; It's Midnight; Burning Love; Introductions / What'd I Say /
Days; My Boy; T.R.O.U.B.L.E; I'll Remember You; Let Me Be There; American
Trilogy; Funny How Times Slip Away; That's All Right; Heartbreak Hotel; Can't
Help Falling In Love. Closing Vamp/ Announcements.
Curtis Hixon Hall
Navy Blue 2-Piece
Red & Gold Trim
Crazy Canuck © Tampa, FL April 26, 1975 afternoon show
This afternoon Elvis says it’s great to be back in
Jacksonville! Introducing himself as Wayne Newton and ( as throughout this tour
sings quite well with this slightly modified less demanding repertoire. This
afternoon he excels on ‘ If you love me ’ and
' Burning Love ' and is outstanding. Even Heartbreak Hotel is great! Elvis
next introduces his band and singers, along with Mr. & Mrs. Renaldi who made
all of his promotional material since he first started out. A smooth show ,but
not quite ‘Rockin’Tampa ( in my opinion! ) During the introductions at
the Tampa Afternoon Show Elvis went at length to describe that J.D.Sumner was
going to participate in a lowest Bass Singing contest in Nashville after this
tour , because someone else claimed they could sing lower than J.D!- of course
Elvis added that 'no-one is lower than J.D!'.Whilst introducing the Joe Guercio
Orchestra Elvis just called it the Horn Section because of NOT taking as fuller
Orchestra on tour when compared to recently in Las Vegas. Elvis also added that
the Orchestra were hidden behind him in a closet!. Elvis seems awake and witty
for this Afternoon. Also as in Macon and Jacksonville Elvis once again gets
Kathy Westmoreland to give out a scarf to a guy. This tour so-far(despite Elvis
describing T.R.O.U.B.L.E. as having 2,000 words) this is his best performance of
the song so far and he’s starting to ‘rock’ and learn it. However leaving
after the end of this show with Joe Esposito Elvis looks pale and tired still.
Tampa, FL April 26th
2001 Theme:C, C
Rider; I Got A Woman/Amen; Love Me; If You Love Me Let Me Know; Love Me Tender;
Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel; Help Me; Burning Love; Introductions / What'd I Say /
Days; My Boy; T.R.O.U.B.L.E; Alfie ( 1 Line ) ;I’ll Remember You ( Band False start
only ) The Hawaiian Wedding Song: Let Me Be There; American Trilogy; Can't Help
Falling In Love. Closing Vamp/ Announcements.
Curtis Hixon Hall
Dark Blue 2-Piece With
Yellow,Orange and White Flame design
Tonight Elvis changes his line up a little and swaps songs to include Help me and The Hawaiian Wedding Song. Another ‘good’ if not spectacular show. Again tonight in Tampa Kathy gets to give out more scarves etc before An American Trilogy, also after Elvis says 'The Hawaiian Wedding Song' the band false starts up for '' I'll Remember You. ''