Opening Night - Vegas 8/18/75 

By Sandi Hitchcock

 

Before I review Elvis' opening show, I would like to get on my Elvis soap box - with Al & Dee's permission. I have been an Elvis fan since I was 12 years old. I lived in Memphis and met Elvis then and I was hooked. I have followed his carrer very closely and have seen him at every opportunity. I have met some really great fans-- most of whom have a bit of blind adulation for Elvis. But I recently was exposed to people who called themselves fans who behaved in a manner which disputed the fact. For some reason people seem to expect miracles from Elvis. They don't allow him to age, to be sick, to gain weight, or any other human frailty which they themselves experience. Granted Elvis is the King of Entertainment, but he is also human. And being human, he has been sick--but it didn't affect his talent, nor his charisma. These so called " fans " could not hear his beautiful voice; they were too busy finding fault with his weight and heckling him to sing songs other than what he was singing. The latter became so bad at one show, Elvis cut the show short.   

Sandra Hitchcock Las Vegas, NV. August 19, 1975 midnight show

Elvis has given us 20 glorious years of entertainment. He has never asked anything in return. I have seen him at many odd hours on and off stage--from 6:00 A.M. 'til 12:00 P.M., and he has never refused to stop and chat or sign an autograph. I think it's time we gave Elvis a little privacy, and a lot of support. Don't talk about the man in a critical way when he's sick. Send him your cards and letters and offer your prayers, but don't go to Memphis and hang out at the gate or follow him across town. Give him a little time to himself. Let him know we care--enough to give him his privacy. If you do go to Memphis, give him the courtesy of getting out of the way when he comes in the driveway. 

This past June, some fans blocked the back driveway, forcing Elvis to turn around and go in the front gate. As he drove in, a " fan " yelled something displeasing. Elvis then asked the guard to have all the fans leave. Don't do this to him or to yourself. 

Thanks for listening--I love Elvis as much as all of you, but if he never sang again--it wouldn't matter, as long as he is healthy and happy. Now-- on to the review: 

Having seen Elvis 17 times in the past 5 months, at various stages of his weight fluctuation, I didn't know what to expect for Vegas' opening. I knew I wouldn't be disappointed, I never have been. Elvis' show was opened by Voice, followed by The Stamps, who have added a new bass singer named Larry Strickland. ( Yes, J.D.'s still there, but now there is a full quartet. ) Next were the Sweet Inspirations followed by the ever popular Jackie Kahane! 

Elvis came on stage to a standing ovation. He was wearing the gypsy-type'costume he wore in Asheville; black with white shirt. He opened in the usual manner - " C.C. Rider "followed by " I Got A Woman ", asking the audience to join him on the "Amen ". He remarked that this audience was better than most opening show audiences.   

Sandra Hitchcock Las Vegas, NV. August 18, 1975 opening show

Elvis had a new red guitar--very pretty, but I like the black one better. The next song was " Love Me " interspersed with the usual kisses and gifts. This was followed by " If You Love Me Let Me Know ". Elvis then said they had done something different, before the show they had asked about 50 people what songs they wanted him to do. The requests had been written on a slip of paper and pat in a box. He drew out the first request, which was " Blue Suede Shoes ". He seemed to enjoy doing this song, even though before starting it he said " I don't like this one, let's do another one! " The next request was " Suspicious Minds " to which Elvis remarked " Good gosh, give me a scarf, Charlie, and two tanks of oxygen. " Elvis really gets tired of this song, but he still does a super job on it. A fan near the stage requested " My Boy ", which Elvis gladly obliged. This is a strong, emotional song, and every time Elvis sings it, he gets better ----- if that's possible.

One humorous exception was the Tuesday midnight show, when Elvis forgot the words and laughingly sang " I'll stay here and watch it snow! " Next was " Heartbreak Hotel ", followed by the dynamic, superfantastic " Polk Salad Annie " which ended with a beautiful karate work out. After this, Elvis sat down exhausted. A man sitting across from us, Mr. John Kennedy from Griffith, Indiana, shouted " Hey, Elvis, my wife will give you mouth to mouth resuscitation: " Elvis said " OK " and lay down on the stage. Mrs. Kennedy was helped onto the stage by Charlie Hodge, where she got down on her knees and kissed Elvis. She received a scarf for her efforts.   

Sandra Hitchcock Mrs. Kennedy with Elvis on stage at the opening show

This was followed by introductions. The next song was " T-R-0-U-B-L-E " followed by the very beautiful " Wonder Of You ". " Why Me Lord? ", complete with Elvis' now familiar jibes at J.D., and a scarf tied around his head, was followed by the ever-popular, reverent " How Great Thou Art ", which received a standing ovation and a tremendous round of applause. Elvis then thanked the audience, and " Can't Help Falling In Love " began. I can honestly say it was one of the best shows I've ever seen. 

Tuesday's dinner show, the chain on Elvis' belt broke. He remarked that he paid $2,500 for the outfit and $1,000 for the belt, and then began to give pieces of the chain to the audience. 

At the Tuesday midnight show, Elvis did requests again, among then " It's Now or Never ", " Softly ", and " Young and Beautiful ". Someone in the audience yelled " Elvis, you're beautiful ", and this brought about a round of applause. Because, fans, he is beautiful. He is beautiful as a man-his soul and his very being, first and foremost, and beautiful as an entertainer second!

 Originally published in Strictly Elvis Generation No. 4