Vegas, December '75

By Maria Losito   

 

The first billboard I saw on the way to the hotel had those famous five letters forming that magic word, ELVIS. I couldn't believe I was really back, more anxious than ever to see the man himself. Especially after the experience in August, this was doubly exciting. 

Even before going to my room I confirmed my show reservations for all shows and the maitre'd gave me a big smile and a "Welcome Home". When I asked him how the shows were going he smiled and said Elvis was like a new person since August and that everyone coming out of the shows had nothing short of raves for him. I wondered how I'd last until 10:00 P.M. that night. 

I won't say the afternoon went fast but seeing everyone-the Stamps, James, Ronnie and Jackie really helped the time go. Everyone was in such great spirits and I kept hearing how fantastic every show was. 

Unknown/Sue McCasland Las Vegas, NV. Dec. 2nd 1975 opening/ Dec. 13th 1975 dinner show

Since that awful Thursday morning in August when Elvis got sick I had prayed and waited for this moment, "2001" brought tears to my eyes and when Elvis came out I just said a silent prayer of thanks. He looked great. Though he still was a bit bloated in the stomach, it was obvious he had lost weight. I had never seen this jumpsuit, white with puffy sleeves with silver and gold threads running down the arm. The belt was wide and decorated with rows of turquoise stones, just beautiful. His hair was a bit shorter than it had been on the Summer tour and August engagement, more like a layered cut so that when he shook his head it would fall into place easily. That first look was the most important. After seeing a very pale, bloated,, sick Elvis in August I had to be sure he was OK. I know it has been reported he looked pale but to me his color was good. His eyes sparkled and smiles were frequent, all signs to me of his improved health. 

If I had my doubts about bow Elvis felt, the shows would have surely erased all of them. The opening is the same familiar " C.C. Rider ", " I Got A Woman ", and " Amen ", but from then on it was a new show. He did " Fairytale ", " And I Love You So ", " Trying To Get To You " (the best version I've ever heard), " Until It's Time For You To Go ", " Polk Salad Annie ", (boy did he MOVE--karate and all), " Just Pretend ", " How Great Thou Art " (always with standing ovation), " Burning Love " (still moving!), a Medley of " All Shook Up/Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel/ Hound Dog ", " America " (absolutely breathtaking), " Love Me ", " Tiger Man ", (complete with strobe lights) and " Can't Help Falling in Love ". I was sitting at the stage and gave Elvis a caricature of himself. He laughed and thanked me. As he bent down to give me a scarf I reached up and wiped his forehead. He smiled and said " thank you ". He is beautiful and seeing him so close only reinforced my belief that he is feeling OK.

 

Sue McCasland Las Vegas, NV. December 14th 1975

At other shows Elvis took requests and did " Wooden Heart ", " Little Sister ", " Blue Christmas ", " Help Me Make It Through the Night ", " Little Darlin ", and others. Two songs that really stand out in my mind are " One Night "and " It's Now or Never ". I had always wanted him to do " One Night " and when he began it I went crazy. I just couldn't believe he was really standing in front of me singing one of my favorites. Thank you, Elvis. " It's Now or Never " was memorable because he did it in Italian, clowning all the way. He asked Sherrill to help him with the words. Other suits he wore included the navy with white eagle, black indian suit and another new white jumpsuit-black stripes down the legs and'a spray of what looked like diamonds(?) on the back. Every show was very different and all were fantastic. Sure he was tired but in one show after doing" Polk Salad ", " Burning Love " and " Tiger Man "--who wouldn't be tired??? There were no stools on the stage, and Elvis did just fine without them. 

The assortment of gifts were hilarious. At one point he was given a HUGE Christmas stocking full of goodies. He was like a little boy, he took the time to pull things out and comment or play with the toys, and when he became impatient he dumped all the contents of the stocking out on stage. He was enjoying himself immensely. He threw a little football in it to Lisa. He also tried skateboarding across the stage when he was given a board, and doing tricks with a yo-yo he was given. The funniest had to be a big yellow hat with flashing red light on top and gogles with wipers. He put them both on, laughing all the while and started singing "Treat Me Like a fool"......the words just fit.

 

Sue McCasland Las Vegas, NV. December 13th 1975 midnight show

Elvis kidded constantly with everyone on stage. One night he had Charlie do his Gabby Hayes imitation, then Gomer Pyle, then Gabby Hayes singing " Guadalahara ". It was hilarious. Elvis asked Estelle what a deranged alligator does. She just laughed but Charlie pitched in with " Anything he wants ". At one show Charlie did a Mexican hat dance around a sombrero someone gave Elvis, while Elvis laughed and clapped. I'd say Elvis laughed through 3/4 of every show. He said he was happy to be back on stage and it was obvious. It was so great to see him enjoying himself again. 

Friday and Saturday night Elvis introduced Lisa and she stook and waved to everyone. Through the show she sat holding a Snoopy doll in front of her and her chin resting in her hands, smiling at her daddy. Vernon stood up and said hello too. I must say he is really looking much better than in August. Thank goodness the Presley family is seemingly healthy once again.

 

Sue McCasland Las Vegas, NV. December 15th 1975 closing show

I just cannot end without mentioning Jackie Kahane.Though his routine is basically the same (forever and ever, Amen), there are a few new lines thrown in and he was really funny. One night, being aware of the fans falling asleep, he pushed the mike in front of a fan's face and said, " You've seen enough shows to do this for me". It broke up the showroom. Another night Jackie's mike was broken when he came out and he ad libbed. He was never funnier. Then they handed him a hand mike from backstage and that too was broken. We laughed so hard the tears were running down our cheeks. Poor Jackie. He ran around the stage yelling, " But I don't have any scarves ". Elvis came out commenting on Jackie's eating microphones. 

To sum it all up, the King reigns, in all his glory. August is past and seems like light years away when you see an energetic, happy, dynamic Elvis on that stage. I only hope 1976 continues to bring Elvis and his family good health and happiness.

Originally published in The Strictly Elvis Generation No. 5 .