Back At The International

January 26th 1970 opening show

By Linda Holm

 

There's only one man in the world who can top Elvis. . and that's Elvis himself. Elvis is one of a kind -- the true master of music. There have been many imitators, but no one can dethrone " The King. " He combines greatness with humbleness -- a grand sense of humor with sensitivity -- and is a true gentleman in every sense of the word. I think I can best express what I think of Elvis Presley by saying he's even greater as a man than as a star.   

J.A.T. Publishing February 1970

Making his return to the International Hotel in Las Vegas, Elvis proved again that he still has the charisma and magnetism to pull 2, 000 people out of their chairs to give him several standing ovations. Elvis looked like a Greek God as he stood under the bright spotlights. He wore a " mod " outfit.... a white, long sleeved, French jump suit open at the chest. He wore a pearl beaded tie belt that hung loosely over his hip bugger pants. He had on a collar of beaded pearls and accentuated with gold ties. Many diamond rings sparkled on his fingers. He wore white, leather boots. All in all, Elvis was "breathtakingly handsome. " 

Although Elvis admitted he was a bit nervous before show time, he didn't show it when he walked on stage amidst great applause. He took the microphone to sing his opening number, "All Shook Up," and the Presley voice was totally in command.Elvis' back-up musicians, in addition to the Bobby Morris Orchestra, were: the always great James Burton on guitar; Jerry Scheff on electric bass; Charlie Hodge and John Wilkinson on guitars; Glen Hardin at the piano, and the terrific Bob Lanning, younger son of singer Roberta Sherwood, on drums. He accentuated every move Elvis made with a drum beat. El's interpretation of the mod, groovy new dances excited everyone, and they responded with wild applause. In the past, Elvis seemed to shy away from fast dancing, but now, it was clear that he'd conquered still another new field for him.   

Elvis selected a " potpourri " of songs which featured something for everybody: All-time hits of his, like "That's All Right, Mama "... " Teddy Bear " . . . " Don't Be Cruel ". . . and " Long Tall Sally. " He sang love songs that drew great response from the audience, like " I Can't Stop Loving You "... " Let It Be Me "... " True Love Travels On A Gravel Road " and " I Can't Help Falling In Love With You. " His recent million sellers. . . " Don't Cry Daddy, " " In The Ghetto, " and " Suspicious Minds " were also showcased. 

Perhaps the extra-special crowd pleasers were Elvis' own versions of hit songs that other performers had recorded. He sang, " Sweet Caroline, " a recent hit for his friend, Neil Diamond. . Elvis did a teriffic job on it. But, near the end, he motioned for the orchestra to stop. Elvis smiled, and explained he'd " forgotten " the rest of the song. However, a second or two later, he motioned for the orchestra to pick up where they'd left off, and Elvis finished the song to instant applause. Elvis felt completely natural in admitting what happened. Since he's a perfectionist, he wanted to do it right... not "hum" through the end of the song.   

J.A.T. Publishing February 1970

Elvis also sang a Louisiana blues tune, " Polk Salad Annie, " written by Tony Joe White... and he did Joe South's hit of " Walk A Mile In My Shoes. " But the number that really made Elvis go wild was Creedence Clearwater's hit, " Proud Mary. " Elvis gyrated and twisted to the beat, and blue and purple lights flickered on a screen behind him. It was simply magnificent! 

Earlier in the show, Elvis got a bit hoarse. So when he finished a song, he said to the crowd, " You all look at my suit, while I get a drink of water, " Several people in the front row offered their water glasses to Elvis, and he took a few sips. One lady offered her napkin so he could wipe his brow. Anyone in that audience could look at the expression on Elvis' face and know instantly that he was having the time of his life performing. The rapport he has with his public is amazing! They love him. . and he loves them back. It's a mutual love affair that's gone on for 15 years, and will continue another hundred. 

There were a lot of celebrities in the crowd who'd come to cheer Elvis on. Those present included Zsa Zsa Gabor, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart (who have written songs for Elvis), Stu Gilliam, Juliet Prowse, Lana Turner, Rouvan, Wayne Cochran, Paul Anka, Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong of the Supremes, Peggy Lipton, The Yellow Payges, Dean Martin and his new girl, Gail Renshaw, Paul Peterson, George Chakiris, Kirk Kerkorian, head of the International, James Aubrey, president of MGM, Harry Jenkins, president of the record division of RCA, and many friends, relatives, fans...   

J.A.T. Publishing February 1970

Elvis acknowledged Dean Martin's presence. When he walked on stage, Elvis broke into a few bars of " Everybody Loves Somebody, Sometime... " ( I wonder if Elvis knows that Dean is a fan of his, too. Last summer a group of girl fans, on their way to Elvis' house, saw Dino in his yard, and stopped to snap a photo. Martin asked, " Where are you girls going? " They chorused, " To Elvis' house. " Dean said, " Wait and I'll go with you. " No, he didn't go, but he probably would have liked to). 

Also enjoying the show, Peggy Lipton really surprised those near her table when she couldn't control her excitement. Usually appearing to be so ultras sophisticated, Peggy did a turn about and screamed wildly every time Elvis gyrated on stage. Those who didn't scream were either clapping wildly, cheering, whistling, or doing something to show how much they loved Elvis' performance. 

No one wanted the show to end. Every song that Elvis sang was absolutely sensational. He worked hard to perform -- it was evident. The show, lasting over 70 minutes, also featured two acts that were with Elvis last summer at the International. The Sweet Inspirations, dressed in mini-black velvet dresses, and the gospel group, The Imperials, had returned to join The King. Sammy Shore, who was also on the bill again, did a very funny bit about Col. Parker, Bill Miller and Elvis negotiating money for Elvis' stand at the hotel. Sammy said he couldn't understand Col. and Elvis when they talked because of their southern "drawl, " but that he felt sure Elvis was getting more money than he was.   

Jacques Laurent Black 1970 jumpsuit displayed at Graceland

Elvis, like last year, is alternating between a white suit one night, and a black suit the next. My favorite song of all that Elvis sang was his newest RCA single, " Kentucky Rain. " I knew right away, after I'd heard only a few bars, that it would be an immediate hit. After Elvis sang his last encore number, the curtain slowly began to fall. But before it did, Elvis stood in the center of the stage, smiling warmly, his eyes sparkling with love, gratitude and appreciation to everyone there. The man humbly said, "Thank you for coming. Elvis Presley: a true gentleman a great man!

You can view color photographs of this jumpsuit on page 1970-3 in the jumpsuit junkies section.

Originally published in Strictly Elvis No.24