By Maryann Gavranich
I saw Elvis on opening night, December 2, 1976, The Showroom of the Las Vegas Hilton was completely full, the entire engagement being sold out in advance. There were billboards all over town saying " ELVIS - DECEMBER 2-12 - SOLD OUT! THANK YOU! " The Stamps, Sweet Inspiration and Jackie Kahane were their usual selves, terrific. They put everyone in a happy, laughing mood, because everyone knew who was next. The lights went out, the '' 2001 " theme began, and there was Elvis, on stage, singing " CC Rider " and looking fantastic. He was wearing a white jumpsuit with a turquoise design, and 35lbs. thinner than when I last saw him in June. He was very happy to be back, and in a great mood. He said, " You know, you really scare me. Do you know how many people this place holds? We have people hanging from the ceiling. We're gonna' try to do all the songs you want to hear. Remember, we're here to make you happy. " And that's exactly what be did!
Crazy Canuck ©
Las Vegas, NV. Dec. 2nd 1976 opening show
sang 26 songs, too many to list here. After a few songs, he stopped to introduce
two of his very good friends who were in the audience, Vicki Carr and Glenn
Campbell. Then he sang " It's Now or Never ", followed by "
Softly As I Leave You " which I had never heard in concert, and it was
simply beautiful. He said the words as J.D.'s nephew sang them. The effect was
unbelievable, I don't think there was a dry eye in the place. Then he introduced
his group. During the course of the show Glenn Campbell had been making a few
comments that Elvis and Glenn laughed about. When he finally asked someone back
stage how long he had been on, everyone in the audience said 10 minutes, but it
was almost and hour and a half. It was hard to believe he had been on that long
already. He had stopped a few minutes at the beginning of the show because he
had something in his eye, but after a treatment with eyedrops, he performed
After the introductions, " Hurt " had to be done twice, once would not do. Then he said that a lot of people were saying he really couln't play the guitar, so be was going to prove to everyone that he could. Just as be started to play, Glenn Campbell said something, and Elvis stopped. Glenn stood up and said, " If I could sing like you, I wouldn't worry about playing the guitar ". That brought cheers from the audience, but he did settle down and really play that thing! Elvis said he wanted to do a song from " Blue Hawaii " and everyone groaned thinking it would be " Can't Help Falling in Love ", but amidst yells of " no, no, more, more " Elvis said, " Hold it, hold it, we're going to do " Hawaiian Wedding Song " for you ". So we all calmed down. That was followed by " Blue Christmas " for the holidays. He was trying to do the songs everyone wanted to hear, but everyone had a different idea of what he or she wanted to hear. " That's All Right, Mama " followed by " Bridge Over Troubled Waters " brought the time on stage to 2 hours. He started to close the show, even though he really didn't want to leave, but he'd already been on too long. The curtain came down on the best Show I'd ever seen, one I'll never forget. The applause was thunderous. He came back out to shake hands and wave to everyone and then he was gone again.
© Las Vegas, NV. Dec. 2nd 1976 opening show
The show was great. I've never seen Elvis in a better mood. He was so happy, he looks great. His voice was beyond description. I just don't have the words to really describe it. The way he sings " Hurt " was the way he sang every song, with so much power and feeling. It was obvious he was enjoying himself immensely, and really " into " doing this show. Once again he proved he's still " THE KING " and disproved all the years ugly rumors. What can I say?! The MAN is fantastic. He cares more about the audience and making them happy than he does about himself. I know there will never be another human being like him.
More photographs of the December '76 Vegas opening in the " Jumpsuit Junkies " section.
Originally published in the Strictly Elvis Generation No.11.