Slimmer, Healthier Presley Shows

Atlanta, GA. December 30th 1976 

By Scott Cain 


There's good news for Presley fans: Elvis is back in the groove. 

His Thursday show at the Omni was tops, the best possible year-end present for his Atlanta fans. 

From a vocal standpoint, Elvis was operating at his peak, both in tonal quality and exertion. He has lost a little weight and looks much healthier than he did last June. His vitality is restored and he was full of pep. Furthermore, he was in a good mood. He was giving his best and knew it, adding a wonderful aura of self-confidence to the show.   

Ron Wolfe Atlanta, GA. December 30th 1976

The concert was unique in many respects. You haven't lived until you have seen the king of rock 'n roll lying flat on his back on the stage. And who would ever have thought that the king of rock 'n roll could be upstaged while in just that position? 

This happened while Elvis was giving a particularly powerful rendition of "Hurt". He was going through an elaborate display of theatrics, culminating in a swirling motion in which he revolved closer and closer to the floor, finally lying down.   

Harold J. Newton Atlanta, GA. December 30th 1976

This brought a wild ovation, during which a determined mother pushed her young daughter, perhaps 6 years old, onto the platform. The girl boldly stalked up to Elvis, who was still prostrate. Elvis took this interruption in stride, bestowing a warm hug on the child. 

The program also was unusual in that Elvis revealed himself as an acceptable pianist. He plopped down at the keyboard and accompanied himself as he sang a lovely version of "Unchained Melody". His piano playing, which consisted largely of a few simple chords, has more in common with saloon technique than with Horowitz, but it was still an unexpected bonus. 

Elvis gave an uncommonly long performance. He did 25 songs in more or less full form, plus snippets of numerous others. His part of the show lasted an hour and a half, which is substantially longer than has been his custom.

There were virtually no lags, either. Elvis stopped one song because he felt the tempo was wrong and he halted another because he was having trouble getting into the same key as his band, but these were only minor lapses.   

Harold J. Newton Atlanta, GA. December 30th 1976

His repertoire ran the gamut. He opened with "C.C. Rider", and performed such Presley classics as "Jailhouse Rock", "That's All Right, Mama", "Hound Dog", "Amen", "It's Now Or Never" and "Fairytale". 

Elvis shrewdly built the momentum of the performance, and the core of the show was centered on his no-holes-barred interpretations of "My Way", "Working On The Chain Gang ", "Early Morning Rain" and "Love Letters". 

The Presley audience was beside itself with glee. The fanaticism of his fans has reached such a peak that Elvis sometimes has difficulty staying in control of the situation. He was able to restrain the fury somewhat. He has sharply reduced the scarf-giving and the kissing. He gave away about 15 scarves and kissed only three or four of his feminine admirers. 

He did not accept as many gifts from the audience as he has done previously, but the ones he got were notable for their diversity. One girl gave him something that looked like a shrunken head. It had a tongue that went in and out and, when a string was pulled, emitted a hideous laugh.   

Harold J. Newton Atlanta, GA. December 30th 1976

Still another fan had baked Elvis a two-layer birthday cake, with a king's crown on top and an abundance of flaming candles all around. When Elvis accepted his donation, the audience warbled "Happy Birthday" to him, even though he will not be 42 until next month. 

The concert had been sold out weeks in advance and Elvis reassured his squealing fans that he will return any time they want him. 

The most notable member of the audience was the defeated candidate for the office of mayor of Plains, GA. When Billy Carter entered the auditorium during intermission, he attracted as much attention as Jacqueline Onassis did in her heyday.  

 Originally published in the Atlanta Journal