Elvis Fever

April / May 1975 tour 

By Dave Bouska 

 

Elvis has completed another of his incredibly successful tours from April 24 to May 7, 1975. There seems to be no end to his magic and he grows more popular every time he rolls a tour! If you have any doubts, read on my friends. 

George O. Hill Macon, GA. April 24th 1975

The King began his April tour in Macon, Georgia on April 24. It was a fantastic beginning. Fans began lining up for the show two hours before the performance began, and by the time they all arrived, they were 11,000 strong for a beautiful, sold-out coliseum. The gross was nearly $100,000 for the concert and thousands more wanted tickets. Many were seen wandering about outside willing to pay too much to ticket scalpers. The tickets for the show sold out three months before Elvis sang a note. Elvis received on standing ovation after another during the concert, and men and women jumped to the music and to the experience of seeing Elvis in concert. One lady fan tossed a blue sweater on stage, and instead of just picking up the sweater, Elvis knelt down and kissed the woman, and it blew the crowd's mind! After the first couple of songs Elvis introduced himself as Johnny Cash and brought a tremendous round of yells and applause. The mayor of Macon presented Elvis with the key to the city backstage, and Elvis thanked him and said it was very nice of him. They mayor, Ronnie Thompson, remarked, "Gosh, the guy has more security than a president." Elvis' security men, police, firemen, civil defence workers, and three reporters were backstage. 

The "Elvis people" were easy to spot because they wore stickers that said "Elvis" or the unique bracelets Elvis gives his elite few saying TCB in solid gold. The jewel was designed by Elvis, and the initials stand for "Taking Care of Business". It was also noted most of the Elvis guards had hands that resembled meat cleavers from so much karate practice. After the concert, Elvis was whisked away in a limousine with a shapely brunette by his side. Ah, the life of a superstar!

 

Ron Wolfe Jacksonville, FL. April 25th 1975

April 25th found Elvis in Jacksonville, Florida, for one show. The place sold out months ahead and once again 11,000 wild fans crammed into the show for another $100,000 gross. Lines formed two hours before the gates opened as fans talked Elvis and grew more excited by the minute. So many events took place before the concert, and I'll try to relate some of them to you. 

To describe the happenings in one word, it would have to be "hysteria". There was only one really bad thing that happened, that being the arrest of a ticket scalper. However, hold on to your hats for this, because tickets were being sold by scalpers for as much as $200!! One man was seen on the street screaming that he would give $50 to anyone for a ticket. 

Earlier in the day, three women were staying in the Hilton Hotel lobby where Elvis was staying, hoping to get a glimpse of him. They had no success so when the time came they left for the concert only to find upon their arrival that they had lost their tickets. They madly drove back to the hotel and could not find the tickets, so they completely missed the show. Talk about frustration!! WOW. That must be the ultimate. 

One gal carried a large sign into the concert with her name and telephone number on it in large letters. She said she doubted he would call, and if he did she said she would probably faint anyway. 

Many fans, one an 18-year-old girl, and another a 40year-old man, said they would go see him if he came every week, and they hoped he would. One fellow and his wife came to the show in Elvis T-shirts with a Picture of the King on the front. They said they loved rock music, but that Elvis somehow stood above that and he was more of a mystical experience for them. 

Another fan claims she saw him on the balcony of his hotel suite and he jokingly started to climb over the edge. One fellow who had Seen the concert summed up the feelings of many fans when he described what Elvis meant to him. He said Elvis brings back all the good memories. He noted how Elvis had managed to change with the times, but still stay the same, and that meant a great deal to him. 

But this isn't all that happened in Jacksonville. Those folks just plain had "Elvis Fever". One gentleman tried to get to Elvis' hotel room for a visit by carrying a baby in his arms and hoping the police guards would not question him. Needless to say the "Babe in Arms" technique failed and he was escorted to the elevator. 

Crazy Canuck Tampa, FL. April 26th 1975 matinee show

Meanwhile, the secretaries at a large office building were threatening to close down all the switchboards and offices if Elvis should pass their building, and some even wanted to close up shop and chase around the town looking for Elvis. 

A local radio station planned a contest where people would answer a question and receive a pair of free tickets to see Elvis, with ten pairs of tickets to be given away. The telephone response was so great that the central telephone system for the entire area had been knocked out by calls backing up into other exchanges, knocking phones dead for miles around. They stopped the contest and gave the tickets away to people coming into the station in blue suede shoes or with a hound dog, etc. The receptionist at the station was threatened with physical harm, some said they would "save her soul", and one caller even said her crippled child would be inspired to walk again if she could see Elvis. There seemed to be no end to the "Fever" in Jacksonville. 

Tampa, Florida was next for Elvis and friends. He played two sold-out concerts on April 26 to a total of 15,000 fans for a gross of about $130,000 for the day. The fans were glued to their seats (when they stood up the chairs stuck to them --- oh, that was terrible!) Well, one lady did say the place cam unglued so I guess all turned out fine. Anyway, at one point during the show, Elvis introduced his new single, "T-R-O-U-B-L-E", and was so unfamiliar with the words he read them from sheet music as he sang. Towards the end of the show things were not so quiet. As Elvis began to shake hands and hand out his traditional scarves, all --- broke loose! Hundreds of women of all ages rushed the stage and police and women were clashing as Elvis made his exit! Whew! Shades of the '50's. 

Keith Alverson Lakeland, FL. April 27th 1975 evening show

The superstar of music moved on to Lakeland, Florida on April 27 and 28 for three sold-out concerts, for a combined total of over 25,000 fans and a fabulous dollar gross of $225,000! The shows were all exciting but a final show was exceptionally so. It began with a girl throwing a hat to Elvis. He picked it up, handed it back to her and knelt down to kiss her. This started a barrage of teddy bears, pocketbooks, bras, and one girl threw her panties on stage. Elvis picked them up and placed them over J.D. Sumner's head. The crowd roared. "Aren't you cold, honey," Elvis asked the girl who claimed to have thrown the panties! A girl got hold of Elvis' arm and nearly pulled him off the stage, at which time women came crushing forward through front row spectators trying to touch their Elvis. Elvis fled the scene after handing out scarves to many of them, and shaking their hands. The King was on his way to the next city. 

Sean Shaver Murfreesboro, TN.. May 6th 1975

Next stop was Murfreesboro, Tennessee on April 29, and again on May 6 and 7. 1 have very little information on these shows except that they were sell outs. 

Then the Elvis Presley show rolled its way into Atlanta, Georgia on April 30 and May 1 and 2 for three, big, sold-out concerts to 18,000 fans per show, for a whopping total of 54,000 people, and a staggering gross of $500,000 for the three shows. Atlanta saw three great shows with much the same format as previous shows, and went absolutely insane with "Elvis Fever" as did every other city on the tour. 

Women of all ages gathered outside his hotel during the daylight hours and peered with binoculars up at his suite hoping for a glimpse. There was also a parade down the street in front of his hotel with hundreds of people carrying signs with messages proclaiming their love for Elvis. The parade included a 30 car caravan with local DJ's, Miss Georgia Universe, and floats and cars symbolizing Elvis' movies and welcoming Elvis to Atlanta. During the parade a 14-year-old boy spotted Elvis himself on the 24th floor watching the parade. Needless to say the whole section of town seemed to come apart. Doctors and nurses from a hospital across the street poured into the street as word shot through the hospital and everywhere else that Elvis had stepped to the balcony for a moment. And so it was in Atlanta until Elvis headed for the next city. 

That next city was Monroe, Louisiana for two shows on May 3. The combined audience for both shows was 16,000 and the gross for the day's work was $150,000. The fans loved every minute and the simplest movement brought them into a frenzy. 

Lake Charles, Louisiana was next to witness the Elvis mystique. Two shows to about 10,000 per show brought a gross of $150,000, and once again the King mesmerized his audience handing out scarves and complimenting his audience by telling them they were one of the most responsive audiences he had played to. He said he would like to come back, and the fans roared approval. 

Sean Shaver Jackson, MS. May 5th 1975 benefit show

The King next went to Jackson, Mississippi on May 5. There were over 10,000 fans packed into the arena for what was a charity benefit concert for the victims of the terrible tornadoes that raked Jackson on January 9. All of the total gross of $110,000 went to the victims whose homes were wrecked and to those whose families were heartbroken by the nine deaths related to the tornadoes. Elvis paid all the concert fees for his musicians, and rent, and technicians, etc. It came to some $30,000 out of his pocket. The coliseum was decorated by the local fan club and a radio station handed out 20,000 "Welcome Home Elvis" bumper stickers and awarded prizes to those who displayed them. It was the biggest benefit ever in the state, and demand for Elvis was so great, three concerts are planned later in the year for Jackson. 

This tour goes down in history as another gigantic success for Elvis as all concerts were sold out. The fanfare seems to grow with every tour and the King continues to take it all in stride as he adds to his illustrious record as a superstar of all times. Elvis Presley is beyond a doubt the greatest entertainer of this or of any other century. A man who has no equal before him, and a man the likes of which will never be equalled again. A musical super showman in the supreme sense of the word. The King of Music, ELVIS.

 

 Originally published in the magazine Strictly Elvis Generation No. 2