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Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:55 am

In the summer of 1974, discrete followers of Elvis in concert were pleasantly surprised to find a temporary respite from the ridiculous, ostentatious jumpsuits and their huge, 'Santa Claus' belts:


740829_DS_photo by Sue McCasland.JPG
On stage in Las Vegas, August 29, 1974 DS
Photo: Sue McCasland


Whether it was due to meeting up with singer and friend Jackie Wilson, or hanging with new young girlfriend Sheila Ryan -- Elvis' first "hippie" paramour, according to biographer Alanna Nash -- North Beach Leathers in San Francisco became his Lanksy Brothers haberdashery of choice.


740829_MS_photo by Sue McCasland.JPG
On stage in Las Vegas, August 29, 1974 MS
Photo: Sue McCasland


Presley bought and wore several of these pricey, handmade leather two-piece outfits both on and off-stage. He looked fantastic in them, too.


740903_in limo at Hilton en route to Caesar's Palace.JPG
In limousine at Hilton, en route to Tom Jones show at Caesar's Palace, September 3, 1974


A new eBook by Bill Morgan, owner of North Beach Leathers, is out and available:


120725_North Beach Leathers_frontcover.JPG
North Beach Leathers: Tailors To The Stars


Here's an excerpt from the book of Morgan's sartorial experience with the singer:


Chapter 47 - A DATE WITH ELVIS AT THE HILTON ‘RUNS’ LATE - THANKS TO VEGAS’ COPS

“I’m late, I’m late for a very important date!” I couldn’t help but think of the Mad Hatter’s ditty as I was being questioned by Las Vegas Metro Police one spring day soon after we opened our Stardust Mini Mall store.

I was jogging down Sahara Boulevard when a police car pulled me over for - no, not speeding - but for ‘suspicious activity’. I had arrived in Vegas the previous evening and was staying at store manager Joseph’s eastside house near Valley High School and was jogging to the nearby newly built Hilton Hotel. This was before the running and fitness boom and anyone running in Las Vegas then probably robbed a bank or convenience store to help pay off a gambling debt. I am sure having long hair and a beard didn’t help matters with the uptight Metros.

The important date I was late for was with none other than the King himself - Elvis Presley. Our Vegas North Beach Leathers shop had been open for a few months and entertainer Jackie Wilson was in and bought some stage outfits. He was so pleased with them that he said he was going to tell his buddy Elvis we now had a store in Las Vegas. Elvis, with Priscilla’s guidance, bought some pieces from me in Hollywood back in 1970. Their marriage unfortunately was on the rocks. I was looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with the personable King until I got shanghaied by the fuzz. When I told the police about my important date, the one burly tough cop laughed, “Yeah, and I’m having lunch with Frank Sinatra. Ha, Ha, Ha!”

After an hour or so of being held and checked out, they finally released me, reprehending me not to run on the streets anymore. I realized I was not going to make the fitting for Elvis but continued to walk (not run) to the Hilton Hotel, only a few blocks away now. I arrived there as Joseph and Denni were getting ready to drive off. They had met Elvis briefly and he ordered eight deerskin handlaced and painted outfits. All were in white and the eight hundred dollar price tag for each made their day.

Joseph did the honor of measuring the King. That was supposed to be my task and the reason I came to Vegas. Upon my relating what happened to me with Metro, they shook their heads in disbelief. Joe simply said, “Maybe it is time to get a haircut, Bill.” I wonder to this day if Elvis would have remembered me from the Hollywood store in 1970, maybe even have asked me to go jogging with him. I know he wouldn’t mind long hair.

http://www.northbeachleathers.com/Excerpts_from_Book.html#Ch47_Elvis



740903_w fan backstage Caesar's Palace.JPG
Backstage with fan, Caesar's Palace after Jones show, September 3, 1974
(Or early in the am on September 4th)


After the summer 1974 engagement, these suits were almost never seen again. Some candids backstage at College Park, Maryland while on tour in September are known, but that's about it.

Why remains yet another Presley mystery!
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Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:20 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:After the summer 1974 engagement, these suits were almost never seen again. Some candids backstage at College Park, Maryland while on tour in September are known, but that's about it.

Why remains yet another Presley mystery!

As Elvis was quite slender in the summer of '74 and these outfits appear form fitting, by early '75 Elvis couldn't have fit into them...

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:48 am

elvis-fan wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:After the summer 1974 engagement, these suits were almost never seen again. Some candids backstage at College Park, Maryland while on tour in September are known, but that's about it.

Why remains yet another Presley mystery!

As Elvis was quite slender in the summer of '74 and these outfits appear form fitting, by early '75 Elvis couldn't have fit into them...

That's right, elvis-fan.

Gee... some "mystery". :roll:

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:55 am

It's a shame he didn't venture too far with the alternate stage attire, though 1975 did see him in some 2-piece style stage suits that were much more flattering, and fitting for the 40 year old star.

http://www.elvisconcerts.com/jumpsuits/jump1975.htm

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:00 am

He had some of the worst stage attire imaginable in the 70s. He should have tried dressing understated and casual on stage, like below:

Image

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:20 am

I always like the shirt and trousers outfit that was on the back of the Moody Blue LP.

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:38 am

poormadpeter wrote:I always like the shirt and trousers outfit that was on the back of the Moody Blue LP.


Me too Peter, one of my favorite shots as a kid.

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:23 am

elvis-fan wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:After the summer 1974 engagement, these suits were almost never seen again. Some candids backstage at College Park, Maryland while on tour in September are known, but that's about it.

Why remains yet another Presley mystery!

As Elvis was quite slender in the summer of '74 and these outfits appear form fitting, by early '75 Elvis couldn't have fit into them...

If you look closely, you will see he was actually not "quite slender." His middle was already becoming distended, but the North Beach Leathers suit design masked it quite nicely.

Note his jump-suited attire at the 9-01-1974 MS or the 9-02-1974 CS, there's nothing slender about him:


740901_MS_Judy Palmer.JPG
On stage in Las Vegas, September 1, 1974 MS
Photo: Judy Palmer


740902_CS.JPG
On stage in Las Vegas, September 2, 1974 CS
Note: This is, of course, the infamous "desert storm" show.


Thus, why Elvis abandoned outfits that enhanced his appearance remains a mystery.

Anyone going to buy the North Beach Leathers eBook? Just $14.95!

Order
http://www.northbeachleathers.com/ORDER.html
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Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:49 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:Thus, why Elvis abandoned outfits that enhanced his appearance remains a mystery.

elvis-fan wrote:... by early '75 Elvis couldn't have fit into them...


Thus, no mystery.

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:12 am

I tend to agree that by Early 75' Elvis was too big for those leather suits. :o

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:20 am

monkboughtlunch wrote:He had some of the worst stage attire imaginable in the 70s. He should have tried dressing understated and casual on stage, like below:

Image


According to who? You? Looking at them 40 years later?

At the time, Elvis's stage attire was considered very cool. Even before I was an Elvis fan I thought it was cool and wished I had a jumpsuit with the so called "Santa Clause" belt!

Actually Elvis wore several outfits in LV in 1971 and 72 that were 2 piece suits and then just a shirt and slacks when the jacket or vest was taken off.

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:22 am

He should have wore leather during EIC..

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:43 am

joshferrell wrote:He should have wore leather during EIC..

That's not funny... nor would it have been pretty...

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:51 am

In the summer of 1974, discrete followers of Elvis in concert were pleasantly surprised to find a temporary respite from the ridiculous, ostentatious jumpsuits and their huge, 'Santa Claus' belts.


Actually, during many of his Las Vegas shows, Elvis didn't where jumpsuits. In his first season in 69, he wore 2 piece suits. In 71, he wore several 2 piece suits with long vests over silk shirts. In 72, he wore some 2 piece suits with a caped jacket over a silk shirt. In 74, he wore the aforementioned leather suits. In 75, he wore jumpsuits with matching a jacket over them. So the leather suits weren't that much of an aberration in Las Vegas

Whether it was due to meeting up with singer and friend Jackie Wilson, or hanging with new young girlfriend Sheila Ryan -- Elvis' first "hippie" paramour, according to biographer Alanna Nash -- North Beach Leathers in San Francisco became his Lanksy Brothers haberdashery of choice.


The only bad thing about these leather suits is that everyone was wearing them; from Tom Jones to Sonny Bono!

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:11 am

eligain wrote:
The only bad thing about these leather suits is that everyone was wearing them; from Tom Jones to Sonny Bono!


So you don't consider Presley's bloated gut being too big for the leather suit a "bad thing?"

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Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:48 am

I don't think the choice of suit mattered all that much at a certain point: if you look at the other men in these most distressing pictures, no one looks pregnant. Something was terribly wrong. And no outfit could fix it. The '70s were a decade where people wore ridiculous outfits, generally made of cheap-looking polyester. (These were leather, I agree. But they still look very "'70s.") Jumpsuits were extremely common. If he looked normal, it would just be a matter of the taste of the era, but now we look at them differently, in terms of his personal appearance.

It wouldn't have made a difference. He was in bad shape, and there's nothing that could change that - except medically.

As for the belts, well, I try to stay on friendly terms with Mr. Claus this time of year! ;)

rjm
Last edited by rjm on Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:56 am

http://www.elvisconcerts.com/pictures/s750318os01.jpg

Could this rare unknown suit be a North Beach Leathers suit or jacket?

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:17 am

YDKM wrote:I tend to agree that by Early 75' Elvis was too big for those leather suits. :o

That does not explain why they are not seen again on stage after September 1974. He played shows through mid-October. That's two months. And he was out and about off-stage in November and December. That's two more months.

And it's not a stretch to imagine they still might have been flattering in 1975, especially given the jumpsuits he wore that year.

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:37 am

drjohncarpenter wrote:
YDKM wrote:I tend to agree that by Early 75' Elvis was too big for those leather suits. :o

That does not explain why they are not seen again on stage after September 1974. He played shows through mid-October. That's two months. And he was out and about off-stage in November and December. That's two more months.

And it's not a stretch to imagine they still might have been flattering in 1975, especially given the jumpsuits he wore that year.


I guess Elvis just tired of them, as he did with other departures from the jumpsuits. I don't understand why he thought the jumpsuits looked good as his weight increased, but he persisted with them so I guess he thought they were a good idea. Maybe they were more comfortable than other options. I imagine that leather could get pretty sticky if overweight.

He wasn't the only 1970s entertainer to make sartorial choices that now seem very odd.

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:59 am

As to why Elvis stopped wearing the two piece suits that would have been a good question for Bill Bellew.

I do think the two piece suits he wore here and the couple he wore in 1972 looked better than the jumpsuits did.

In 1975 and 1976 i thought Elvis wore some ugly jumpsuits.

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 12:41 pm

Blue River wrote:
drjohncarpenter wrote:Thus, why Elvis abandoned outfits that enhanced his appearance remains a mystery.

elvis-fan wrote:... by early '75 Elvis couldn't have fit into them...


Thus, no mystery.

Blue River DJC isn't saying Elvis abandoned those "same" outfits, He is saying he abandoned outfits that enhanced his appearance, as in "why didn't he get re-fitted again", to those same type.

I'm sure you understood that, but it's always better to feel covetousness and disagree, than to absorb a little knowledge and fight envy. :D

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:04 pm

monkboughtlunch wrote:He had some of the worst stage attire imaginable in the 70s. He should have tried dressing understated and casual on stage, like below:

Image

Couldn't disagree more. The Elvis-suit must be the most famous stage-outfit ever.

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:30 pm

drjohncarpenter wrote:
YDKM wrote:I tend to agree that by Early 75' Elvis was too big for those leather suits. :o

That does not explain why they are not seen again on stage after September 1974. He played shows through mid-October. That's two months. And he was out and about off-stage in November and December. That's two more months.

And it's not a stretch to imagine they still might have been flattering in 1975, especially given the jumpsuits he wore that year.

Possibly just a fashion fad for Elvis then... like many things in his life, he probably got bored of them... as is, "been there, done that".

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:50 pm

TJ wrote:He wasn't the only 1970s entertainer to make sartorial choices that now seem very odd.
No he wasn't but reading some of the posts on here you'd think he was.

Re: Elvis --> Hell-Bent for Leathers in 1974!

Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:55 pm

monkboughtlunch wrote:
eligain wrote:
The only bad thing about these leather suits is that everyone was wearing them; from Tom Jones to Sonny Bono!


So you don't consider Presley's bloated gut being too big for the leather suit a "bad thing?"

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The looks on the officer's faces are telling. Trained professionals had to have know Elvis was clearly under the influence of a substance or substances.