South Bend ' 76 !

October 20th 1976 

By Janice Rowe 

 

When we received the news here in Grand Rapids that Elvis would be in South Bend, our home town, on Oct. 20, my husband and I knew we had to be there. So at 10:00 P.M. on Sept. 22 (as early an hour as we could manage) we headed for the Notre Dame campus where we spent the night with several hundred other fans in front of the Activities Convocation Center waiting for the box office to open at 9 o'clock the next morning. There were 240 people already signed in ahead of us when we arrived at 11:00 P.M. South Bend time, and, although We were disappointed to be so far back in the line, we had a fantastic night. Wrapped in sleeping bags and finding it impossible to sleep, we concentrated on the people around us. We passed out some Strictly Elvis newsletters that Al and Dee had supplied us with, (an ice breaker if there ever was one) and made some wonderful new friends. By dawn we had talked ourselves nearly hoarse, so we took the time out to check on the new arrivals. 

Sean Shaver South Bend, IN. Oct. 20th 1976

It was unbelievable what had happened during the night! The parking lot was full and a steady stream of cars was still continuing! 

At 7:00 A.M. we formed three lines according to our registration numbers, and at 8:15 the box office opened 45 minutes early to accomodate the seeminqly endless lines. The well organized handling of ticket sales made an extremely pleasant time of what could have been a long, tedious wait, and by noon we were happily on our way home with 6 treasured tickets, 2 weary bodies and hearts filled with anticipation for the concert, still an agonizing 4 weeks away. 

I am still amazed at how quickly the time passed, but suddenly there it was, October 20: Al and Dee were at the front door, and within five minutes we were on our way. 

We arrived at the ACC shortly after 7:00 P.M. and spent the next hour and a half searching out familiar faces and meeting the people around us. Before we knew it, the houselights were dimming and people were rushing to their seats .... The show was beginning ! 

J.D. Sumner and the Stamps were good, as usual, Jack Kahane was in rare form and the Sweet Inspirations were super--An extremely entertaining first half. 

By intermission the butterflies I had been attempting to suppress in my stomach had become grasshoppers on holiday, and when the lights went out and the "Theme from 2001" burst forth, those grasshoppers began an all out free-for-all in there. As the theme crescendoed, breathing became impossible, and when Elvis stepped in view, he was greeted by a deafening explosion of emotional applause which accompanied his every move for the next 65 minutes. 

Sean Shaver South Bend, IN. Oct. 20th 1976

The new jumpsuit he wore was white with dark orange and yellow spangled flames licking up the side of each flaired leg, becoming a blazing sun on both his back and chest; a crowd-pleaser to say the least, and he proceeded to show us how he intended to "break it in tonight." 

The first scarf of the evening went to the little daughter of one of our Strictly Elvis Generation members. Her sign proclaiming " Kami Loves You," seemed to touch Elvis and he thanked her with a gentle kiss. 

He had opened with "C.C. Rider" and as he continued with such familiar songs as " Mountain," and " Steamroller Blues," the crowd followed his every note, every movement, every smile. Later, his presentation of "Hurt" was just what we had been told to expect--Dynamic! --It's the only word to describe it ! 

So it continued, an exciting show from beginning to end, with the highlights depending on individual preference. For some it was the medley of "All Shook Up," " Teddy Bear " and " Don't Be Cruel." For others it was the more romantic ballads like " And I Love You So. " There was something to please everybody. The audience response was incredible, and before we realized it the show was over. Elvis was gone--- Gone until tomorrow night, at least, when we would see his next show in Kalamazoo. But that's another story ..... 

Sean Shaver South Bend, IN. Oct. 20th 1976

South Bend was only my second Elvis concert, the first being Pontiac on New Year's Eve, so I can't begin to compare this show with the Elvis of a few years ago. I doubt that I would even if I could. I can only tell you what we saw, an exciting man who has the awesome ability to walk onto a stage and completely take over the hearts and minds of thousands of people with a word or a song. Backed by the many talents of his group, he can make people laugh, or cry, or even bring them to their feet, cheering. The electricity he transmits is unexplainable, but it's there, nevertheless, and if the opportunity presents itself, we'll be there again, standing in the ticket line for hours with everyone else, meeting the people, feeling the excitement that only Elvis creates. WHAT A PERFORMER !

 Originally published in the magazine Strictly Elvis Generation  No. 10