The King Of 'Em All Y'All

April 1973 tour

By Dave Bouska


Elvis has recently finished another spectacular tour of the west coast of the U. S. A. , and as usual, it was a complete sellout! What can I say that has not been said about an Elvis tour? Fantastic? Great? Stupendous? None of these words really get the message across. Oh, but this tour has a special meaning to me because I was in attendance at two of the concerts. The only word for the two shows I saw is BEAUTIFUL! 

But before I go into the description of the shows I attended, let's take a look at the tour statistics and some of the happenings. The tour began in Phoenix, Arizona on April 22, 1973 and ended in Denver, Colorado on April 30. 

I'm Leavin' It Up To You Fan Club Anaheim, CA. April 24th 1973

Phoenix was a complete 15, 000 seat sell-out with a total dollar gross of about $120, 000. Elvis tore the place up and received three standing ovations during the show. Police lined the front of the stage, and security as usual was tight. Women brought flowers and other gifts, just in case Elvis walked their way.Elvis gave one great performance here and turned on the wiggle of old for the show. 

Presley and crew winged their way to Anaheim, California for two sold-out concerts at the Anaheim Convention Center on April 23 and 24. The convention center is directly across from Disneyland, near the city of Los Angeles. I don't have exact figures on these shows, but the scene was a wild one with Elvis movin' that leg again. 

At one point in the show, about 100 fans pushed their way up the aisle trying to get through the police lines, but they were repulsed and Elvis just kept on singing. Although this was unsuccessful, one male fan ran a 100-yard dash, dodging security men and placed a scarf on the stage. However, Elvis failed to touch the scarf all evening and the run was all in vain. Scarves were thrown by Elvis to the fans and they fought like wild animals for them. 

On April 25, the king of rock rolled into Fresno, California for two sold-out performances at Selland Arena. There was a 7, 500 capacity crowd at both shows and the gross was near $120, 000. A teenage girl was seen just staring at the stage after Elvis had left saying, "I don't know what it is he has, I just know it's there. " 

I'm Leavin' It Up To You Fan Club San Diego, CA. April 26th 1973

San Diego, California was the next city to view the Presley phenomenon. A packed house of 15, 000 was on hand as Elvis filled their ears and eyes with a certain magic only this man can. 

" Holy Smoke, land sakes alive, I never thought this could happen to me! " The next stop on the tour was my home town, Portland, Oregon. I'll be giving a review of this concert later in this article, but here are a few facts. There were 13, 000 in attendance and a $100, 000 gross came from the capacity audience. 

As we move along, we find Elvis in Spokane, Washington playing to two capacity shows of 13, 000 total payees and raking in a cool $100, 000. After his first song, Elvis said " Maybe I'll just stand here all night " and the audience applauded wildly... but Elvis decided to move a little and the place almost came unglued. Perhaps before Elvis does a show he wrestles with the question, " To move or not to move. " Sorry about that. 

Chris Trant On location at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair

What's this? Elvis and friends were next on display in Seattle, Washington on April 29. Since Seattle is only 200 miles from my home, I also obtained tickets for this show. Elvis played to two sell-out audiences at the Seattle Center Arena on the grounds of the 1962 World's Fair where, if you recall, he made the movie "It Happened At The World's Fair. There were about 8, 000 attending each show for a one-day turnout of 16, 000. The gross was a sensational $130, 000 for the day. 

Last, but not least, on the tour was Denver, Colorado on April 30. Now get ready for this... all 13, 000 tickets were sold in less than four hours for the show. There were many people trying to buy tickets at the door, but nobody would sell them. People offered money to let them sit on your lap, or between you. .. a three people on two chairs type of deal. A great ending for this spectacular tour. As everyone involved with the tour went their " Separate Ways " they left " Memories " for those of us fortunate enough to attend the shows. 

Judy Palmer Portland, OR. April 27th 1973

As I said earlier, my wife Denise and I were in attendance at the Portland and Seattle shows. I'll first review Portland, then add differences in the Seattle show. 

Upon hearing the news that Elvis would be visiting our grand city of Portland once again, I started going in all directions... but finally settled down and ordered tickets. All seats were sold out weeks in advance. 

First to greet us and the other 13, 000 fans who attended was a gentleman clad in a blue suit who gave us some details of the current tour and explained the rules of the concert such as no running down the aisles and only taking pictures from your seat. Binoculars were very much in evidence. The show was delayed fifteen minutes because of the large traffic jam outside of the Coliseum. This would give all the fans a chance to get in and see the complete show. Also being sold were many different types of Elvis " super souveniers " as the announcer called them. 

Judy Palmer Spokane, WA. April 28th 1973 Matinee

After Jackie Kahane and The Sweet Inspirations we were greeted with the news of a fifteen minute intermission. So we waited impatiently focusing cameras, discussing Elvis and indentifying band members setting up for Elvis' portion of the show. It was the usual crew with the exception of Emery Gordy, who had taken Jerry Scheff is place on bass. 

The lights begin to dim and as the arena grew dark, the eerie sounds of the " 2001 " theme began to build. It made one anticipate someone or something bigger than life about to appear. Suddenly out of nowhere a huge white spotlight hits the rear of the stage and the drums begin that familiar -crashing beat as Elvis Presley appears from behind the curtain at the rear of the stage. He walked from one end of the stage to the other with the grace of a panther, picked up his guitar, and stepped up to the microphone and began to mesmerize our minds and ears with a magnificent version of " See See Rider. "

As the song ended with a sensational drum roll from Ronnie Tutt, Elvis broke into " I Gotta Woman, " a blues-rock song. His voice never sounded better. 

It was with this song that I began to notice what was happening. Elvis was beginning to wiggle and shake as he hadn't in years on stage. He really seemed to be " getting into " his music and each move brought screams, whistles, tears, and laughter from a group of 13, 000 who were already "All Shook Up " after only the second song. " Love Me Tender " followed, then " Heartbreak Hotel. " During this song, Elvis began laughing and could not stop. He laughed so hard he nearly rolled on the floor. But the audience loved it and laughed right along with Elvis. " Love Me " and " Blue Suede Shoes " followed with Elvis turning on the power of old. Then came " You Gave Me A Mountain " with Elvis in super strong voice. A superb " Steamroller Blues " followed. This version was much better than the recorded version, if you can imagine that. A driving walking, pulsating blues with drums and bass so heavy it would have burdened even the shoulders of Atlas. Towards the end of the song, Elvis really tore into it... like an animal attacking its prey... slashing and snarling and almost viciously taking the song apart piece by piece. A masterpiece of a performance. 

Judy Palmer Seattle, WA. April 29th 1973 Matinee

" Fever " was next with Elvis shaking his legs to the drums and giving a mean, sexy vocal, then an upbeat version of " I Can't Stop Loving You, " which was very similar to the Madison Square Garden version. Of course he threw in " Hound Dog. " " What Now My Love " was done with a beautiful bolero beat with Elvis giving his all and screams were heard all over as beads of sweat began rolling down his face so heavily he continually had to wipe them away. It is songs like this that make one wonder if Elvis has any limit to the strength of his voice. Sheer power. Following this was the beautiful " I'll Remember You, " then " I'm Leavin ". 

Next came three showstoppers in a row: (1) had to be " Suspicious Minds " with Elvis shaking his bady unmercifully all over the stage and red, blue, and yellow and green lights flashing. What a show he put on with this one. Showstopper number (2) was '' American Trilogy " with the arrangement that will leave you feeling like you've been to a patriotic revival. Showstopper number (3) was the medley of " Long Tall Sally " and " Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On ". Elvis did a version of " Little Sister " and the Beatles " Get Back " to end it up. " Sister " sounded almost identical to the record and the updated " Big Hunk 0' Love " incorporated the style of the 1950s. Also included were " Teddy Bear " and " You Don't Have To Say You Love Me. " 

As the show was coming to an end, Elvis remarked that he nor his music had any special message to mess up our heads with. He said, " If we've entertained you tonight, then we've done our job. " This was received warmly by the crowd and they seemed to appreciate this statement from Elvis. 

Denise and I attended the matinee performance in Seattle and found some differences from the Portland show. First, Elvis was dressed in a blue jumpsuit this time with sparkling jewels shining from the suit. He had huge diamond rings on both hands and was a bejeweled king as he strutted his stuff for the Seattle audiences. He included " How Great Thou Art '' in this show which featured The Stamps in a brief solo spot. At one point, while singing '' Teddy Bear, " a girl rushed to the stage and handed him a giant teddy bear and he carried it around the stage for the rest of the song. Also, " Johnny B. Goode '' was added to this show and had everyone rocking in their chairs as Elvis and the whole crew were really " together " on this big rocker. Rocking chairs, get it? Think about it. 

Judy Palmer Seattle, WA. April 29th 1973 evening

The arena was smaller than in Portland with about 7, 500 attending each show and, as reported earlier, both were sold out weeks in advance. Each time Elvis visits a city he tries to play in a different arena if possible because this adds to the excitement. It creates new memories for Elvis and his fans. 

To sum this tour up, we once again see a huge success with Elvis emerging with the crown of a king and his star shining brighter than ever. I would like to continue writing but my poor pen is running out of ink so this is all for this time. 

As Charlie Hodge pinned his cape to his shoulder, Elvis wound up with " Can't Help Falling In Love. " Elvis ran off the stage not to return. Everyone was left with the feeling of bewilderment at what they had seen and were stunned that such a talent existed. It was though a tornado had blown through the town... you saw it, but couldn't believe it. The fantastic Mr. Presley had completely blown our minds.

More pictures and details on this tour at Elvis in 1973 : one of the Legends of Lake Tahoe and in the " Jumpsuit Junkies " section at 1973-3, 1973-5 and 1973-10 .

Originally published in the Strictly Elvis No. 64