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1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Sat Jan 12, 2013 3:57 am

I've read several posts positing 1972 as the turning point year in Elvis' life and career. In general, I've seen many here posit anywhere from 1969 to 1973 as being the year in which Elvis' course was set, in which he gave up artistically and personally and from which his life spiralled to its end.

What year or period would you say was the turning point in his career--where he went from trying new things and embracing the comfort of familiarity and routine instead and not really challenging himself as an artist, live and studio wise? When did the turning point come where he passed the point of no return personally, in terms of his drug use and health? When did the decline set in?

Also, when did Elvis become passe with the mainstream public? I've read vague things about Elvis' new records being at the back of record stores during the '70s, before he died...?

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:20 am

1973 is the turning point is his career because post Aloha didn't bring any new challenges.

In terms of drug use spiraling out of control probably 1973-1974.

Elvis first became passe in the mid 60s thanks to the British Invasion.

He made a comeback that lasted for a couple of years and then became passe again in terms of being considered hip or receiving a lot of radio play.

that is common because of Elvis' age though.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:24 am

Errol Flynn wrote:I've read several posts positing 1972 as the turning point year in Elvis' life and career. In general, I've seen many here posit anywhere from 1969 to 1973 as being the year in which Elvis' course was set, in which he gave up artistically and personally and from which his life spiralled to its end.

What year or period would you say was the turning point in his career--where he went from trying new things and embracing the comfort of familiarity and routine instead and not really challenging himself as an artist, live and studio wise? When did the turning point come where he passed the point of no return personally, in terms of his drug use and health? When did the decline set in?

Also, when did Elvis become passe with the mainstream public? I've read vague things about Elvis' new records being at the back of record stores during the '70s, before he died...?

Errol Flynn, I truly think the turning point, that you're referring to, began after the Aloha From Hawaii show... for whatever reason.

And a couple of months after that was the infamous RCA buyout that Colonel Parker & Elvis agreed to. :facep:

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:25 am

I'd say 1971. 1969-70 were tremendously successful, at least artistically: the concerts were legendary, the voice was in prime shape (maybe its peak), and he released Elvis Country, his last truly great record.

1971 showcases a few subtle changes that, in hindsight, signal some rough waters ahead. The thing I noticed most from this year is the change in voice, and how surprising the slide was from the previous year. His voice seems to be missing a layer; it's thinner, has a slightly nasal tone, and is a bit shaky, especially on the higher notes. Even on the big ballads like "We Can Make the Morning" and "Padre," when he goes for those big, dramatic notes, the voice doesn't have the fullness and control he did just a year earlier. This was also the year when the throwaways really started, with "Hound Dog," "Love Me," and lots of others 1950s' classics being delivered as if he was tossing items into a shopping cart. I'll give him an awesome tour in the fall, but every year post-1970 has a period in which he pulled himself together for a few excellent shows, some more than others.

1972 I think in some ways was his last 'great' year as performer. The concerts were consistently fantastic by all accounts, and he managed one last gasp at commerical relevance with "Burning Love." His voice was stronger than it had been in 1971, particularly at the MSG shows. It was, of course, perhaps the first time we see a somewhat worse for wear Elvis in On Tour (pale, bloated, etc.), but he looked as good as ever between May and August, in my opinion the last time he ever looked or sounded that healthy.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Sat Jan 12, 2013 4:35 am

U.S. Male1990 wrote:I'd say 1971. 1969-70 were tremendously successful, at least artistically: the concerts were legendary, the voice was in prime shape (maybe its peak), and he released Elvis Country, his last truly great record.

1971 showcases a few subtle changes that, in hindsight, signal some rough waters ahead. The thing I noticed most from this year is the change in voice, and how surprising the slide was from the previous year. His voice seems to be missing a layer; it's thinner, has a slightly nasal tone, and is a bit shaky, especially on the higher notes. Even on the big ballads like "We Can Make the Morning" and "Padre," when he goes for those big, dramatic notes, the voice doesn't have the fullness and control he did just a year earlier. This was also the year when the throwaways really started, with "Hound Dog," "Love Me," and lots of others 1950s' classics being delivered as if he was tossing items into a shopping cart. I'll give him an awesome tour in the fall, but every year post-1970 has a period in which he pulled himself together for a few excellent shows, some more than others.

1972 I think in some ways was his last 'great' year as performer. The concerts were consistently fantastic by all accounts, and he managed one last gasp at commerical relevance with "Burning Love." His voice was stronger than it had been in 1971, particularly at the MSG shows. It was, of course, perhaps the first time we see a somewhat worse for wear Elvis in On Tour (pale, bloated, etc.), but he looked as good as ever between May and August, in my opinion the last time he ever looked or sounded that healthy.


That is one thing I've noticed: As the '70s roll on, he just sort of mumbles his way through Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock, etc...It's kind of sad really. He doesn't even seem to be into it or trying at all. At the last filmed shows in June '77, I can't even understand him when he's singing Hound Dog...Same with '75, '76, really. He just sort of rushes through the hits as if they didn't matter.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Sun Jan 13, 2013 10:05 pm

'71 was a good year for Elvis commercially - with great songs sung at studio etc and the touring was great with him working at Vegas and on various tours -He was slim - virile and full of energy just like his previous years at Vegas - The costumes he wore were elaborate such as Cisco Suit etc -

His stints at Vegas drew on large crowds from all over the world who witnessed his appearances on the concert circuit -
.......................................................................................................
[b]But 1972 he started to feel the pain with his split from Cilla etc -


The tours were the same with him criss crossing USA - doing shows at Cities such as - Hampton Roads , Roanoke etc - 1972 too -

His April Tour of '72 had been filmed and featured in movie - E.O.T .

His appearance during this tour was great but he started to put on weight gradually .

In 72 too he split from his wife Cilla - this was a strain to him in an emotional way -

His songs seem to reflect this with songs such as - Separate Ways , Always On My Mind .

His daughter was on his mind continually
as well as his status in the musicfield .
He had so many challenges to fulfill in coming months - He achieved many -

- His challenge and merit in Madison Square Gardens In June 9th - '72 was one of the pinnacles/highlights of his career -

Elvis' engagement at New York's Madison Square Garden marked the first time Elvis performed in front of a live audience in New York since appearances in 1956 and 1957 on the Dorsey Brothers, Steven Allen and Ed Sullivan shows.

The Madison Square Garden box office success from Elvis' appearance is further proof that the public had long awaited his return to New York - a fourth show was added on Sunday, June 11, due to the first three shows instantly selling out.

................................................................................................................ ::rocks :smt007 :smt007
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Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:35 am

I thin the turning point was in september 1970 after the cameras left Vegas. Elvis made a strange but good studio visit in september and a few months later ha made the (in) famous trip to see Nixon. After september 1970, he never was the same on the studio or live.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:39 am

Sometime in '73 if you are talking turning point toward his decline.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Mon Jan 14, 2013 3:47 am

samses wrote:I thin the turning point was in september 1970 after the cameras left Vegas. Elvis made a strange but good studio visit in september and a few months later ha made the (in) famous trip to see Nixon. After september 1970, he never was the same on the studio or live.

Yep, I agree, the 1970 Nashville sessions was the final peak, it was downhill from there. The hill was not a slope without a few upturns, but a downhill slope just the same. How many times can one make a comeback? After the first routine of movie making was over, the second routine became old much more quickly.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:47 am

Lets face it all roads point to the capes-pick the day he first dreamed them up and you have the end of the beginning. Captain Marvel capes-utterly deluded and living in another world. Just playing playing out the string thereafter. The Nov 71 tour was the last 'jet' fueled high-the large arenas,the wash of adulation in major cities with large crowds, the drugs about to take over but haven't yet consumed him and Priscilla not yet gone. i usually place the beginning of the end between Christmas 71 and August 72- simply nothing would ever matter to him after Priscilla's affair was revealed. My bet is he became consumed with shame and fear that all his peccadilloes, sexual and otherwise, were/would be disclosed to Mike Stone.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:53 am

I saw Elvis in concert twice, Nov 5, 1971 and April 30, 1977.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:27 am

1958 - Elvis died when he went in the army.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:28 pm

In his life, maybe 1972 because of the divorce. In his career-1973-because of the bad July 1973 Stax session.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:17 pm

samses wrote:I thin the turning point was in september 1970 after the cameras left Vegas. Elvis made a strange but good studio visit in september and a few months later ha made the (in) famous trip to see Nixon. After september 1970, he never was the same on the studio or live.


Exactly. Everything seemed to change after September 1970: His look, his demeanor and his voice. I always wonder if things went especially insane for Elvis after the death threat in August 1970. He seemed to become even more obsessed with guns. And in Peter Guralnick's Careless Love he told how Joyce Bova said that “He appeared boastful in a way she didn’t remember, talking almost nonstop about the assassination threat with a bravado that seemed almost cruel...”

By December 1970 he looked like a different person: You can clearly see the difference in the photos with Nixon and the pictures taken at Sonny West’s wedding. (Looking smug with his badge and having macho pictures taken with guns.) Compare this Elvis with the person who seemed like the coolest person in the world in 1968 and 1969.

The most disturbing change, for me at least, was the deterioration in his voice. During his Vegas gigs in January/February his voice still sounds OK but nothing like his 1968 and 1969 prime. (But he could still pull of the beginning of Hound Dog pretty darn well.) But by the time he did his recording sessions in March 1971 his voice deteriorated remarkably. His voice sounds thin and quivering with none of the richness or control that he had in 1969. Compare the vocal on “The First Noel” to almost any song from his 1969 recording sessions. It sounds like a different singer. I realize he had issues with glaucoma but his voice would never be the same again after 1970.

From 1971 to 1977 his voice and demeanor continued to get worse. During this time he relied heavily on his “Tarzan” voice. (Example: “American Trilogy” or “Hurt” or countless other songs during this period.)

Don’t get me wrong: I still think Elvis was great during this period but I almost have to pretend like the Elvis from 1968 to 1969 didn’t exist in order to make it more enjoyable. But the thin, quivering voice enhanced songs like “Separate Ways” and “Always On My Mind.” He literally sounds heartbroken. And the Tarzan voice is especially effective (and dramatic) in songs like “What Now My Love” and “American Trilogy.” And one of my all time favorite Elvis vocals is his live performance of “Rags To Riches” in 1976.

But the dramatic voice change between September 1970 and March 1971 will be one of the great mysteries to me.
Last edited by InheritTheWind on Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:20 pm

Turning point: February 1973, another Las Vegas run with several issues all along.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:41 pm

There can only be one major turning point - but there were turning points where Elvis just fell deeper.

Turning point #1: Around 1970-71 -- He just was a different person after That's the Way it Is.

Turning point #2: Around 1972 -- He was getting a divorce, but he had kind of a comeback shaking up the set-list a little bit and recording some new songs live. The MSG shows were powerful too, but by August in Vegas it was business as usual.

Turning point #3: After Aloha -- The shows were still good and he was actually shaking stuff up in August in Vegas before crashing right near the end of the stay - but again he had put on a high challenge and then it was business as usual again. Again, he made some set-list changes to the show in August - but by September he was strung out and could care less.

Turning point #4: September 1974 -- 1974 started out very high-powered with an okay Vegas stint and a awesome tour with two stops in Richmond, and four stops in Memphis. The Memphis show still is one of the last times Elvis really had the gas in the tank. The Summer tour was decent, but seemingly flat. Elvis tried to shake stuff up in August for Vegas in almost a That's The Way it is type of vigor - but ended the tour with a very bizare show. Maybe bizare would have been thrown off as cool in 1970 - but here there was something wrong and most people probably could see it even then. The last tour of 1974 had its moments, but it was the first time were Elvis was no longer professional.

Turning point #5: August 1975 -- Elvis did pretty good in December 1975 and while there was some mistakes and weight gain in the New Years Eve concert - Elvis was still doing mostly okay. However, when he turned 40 in Jan 1975 -- things started to change. Elvis did some great concerts in Vegas and on tour in 1975 - and he even put on some rocking shows in August before just leaving. Whether he was really sick, or just sick of Vegas is unknown. We do know he almost died on August 16, 1975 in a airplane and he was very heavy in August. He didn't actually tour again until March 1976, and by then things were really different.

Outside of the great December tour, where Elvis sounded really up and excited to be singing - most of 1976 was down. 1977 was even worse. The drug use had to really be rampant after 1975, because Elvis never really was the same man after August 1975. He did make some effort in 1977 to improve, at least in April-May - but after that he stop caring until June 21 and that might have just been luck.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:12 pm

February 23, 1972, is the night that changed Elvis life forever. This was the night in Vegas where Priscilla told Elvis that she was leaving him for another man. From that point on it was down hill, he never got over it. His drugs usage increased and his weight and health took a major hit. He went out of control. The two people who could have done something to stop it, did nothing. I am referring to his dad and Colonel Parker.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:08 pm

Although the decline probably started before 1973-after Aloha it seems to have become very evident. He became increasingly bored and was unchallenged.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:40 pm

I agree with the 1972 statement. Although 1973's Aloha was a great commercual success and he looked good, to me that concert was not nearly as good as the ones in 1972 and the song selection very strange. 1973-74 were also not good record release wise. Things picked up a bit later with Promised Land and
T-R-O-U-B-L-E but still he wasnt getting the airplay and sales were not what they were. His career was never the same after the blazing tour of 1972.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:25 pm

And also his health was deteriorating fast after Aloha begining with his first hospital prolonged stay in October 1973.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:15 am

InheritTheWind wrote:
samses wrote:I thin the turning point was in september 1970 after the cameras left Vegas. Elvis made a strange but good studio visit in september and a few months later ha made the (in) famous trip to see Nixon. After september 1970, he never was the same on the studio or live.


Exactly. Everything seemed to change after September 1970: His look, his demeanor and his voice. I always wonder if things went especially insane for Elvis after the death threat in August 1970. He seemed to become even more obsessed with guns. And in Peter Guralnick's Careless Love he told how Joyce Bova said that “He appeared boastful in a way she didn’t remember, talking almost nonstop about the assassination threat with a bravado that seemed almost cruel...”

By December 1970 he looked like a different person: You can clearly see the difference in the photos with Nixon and the pictures taken at Sonny West’s wedding. (Looking smug with his badge and having macho pictures taken with guns.) Compare this Elvis with the person who seemed like the coolest person in the world in 1968 and 1969.

The most disturbing change, for me at least, was the deterioration in his voice. During his Vegas gigs in January/February his voice still sounds OK but nothing like his 1968 and 1969 prime. (But he could still pull of the beginning of Hound Dog pretty darn well.) But by the time he did his recording sessions in March 1971 his voice deteriorated remarkably. His voice sounds thin and quivering with none of the richness or control that he had in 1969. Compare the vocal on “The First Noel” to almost any song from his 1969 recording sessions. It sounds like a different singer. I realize he had issues with glaucoma but his voice would never be the same again after 1970.

From 1971 to 1977 his voice and demeanor continued to get worse. During this time he relied heavily on his “Tarzan” voice. (Example: “American Trilogy” or “Hurt” or countless other songs during this period.)

Don’t get me wrong: I still think Elvis was great during this period but I almost have to pretend like the Elvis from 1968 to 1969 didn’t exist in order to make it more enjoyable. But the thin, quivering voice enhanced songs like “Separate Ways” and “Always On My Mind.” He literally sounds heartbroken. And the Tarzan voice is especially effective (and dramatic) in songs like “What Now My Love” and “American Trilogy.” And one of my all time favorite Elvis vocals is his live performance of “Rags To Riches” in 1976.

But the dramatic voice change between September 1970 and March 1971 will be one of the great mysteries to me.


I so much agree with this! The albums that came after Elvis Country discouraged me, that I stopped buying Elvis Albums after Elvis Now. His voice on He Touched Me and Wonderful World Of Christmas was NOTHING like what came before.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:36 am

samses wrote:I thin the turning point was in september 1970 after the cameras left Vegas. Elvis made a strange but good studio visit in september and a few months later ha made the (in) famous trip to see Nixon. After september 1970, he never was the same on the studio or live.


I agree. I always thought that 72' was the turning point but in the last year, with discovering new audio, video, photos, stories etc... it really does seem like something happened in the fall of 70' broke him and the cracks starting showing. But only if you look carefully. When I was a kid the whole "Elvis meets Nixon" story was funny but when you know the real truth of his mindset and motivations, not funny at all. The Elvis of 68' or 69' would have never done anything like that. The September 70' studio work of "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On' is great and disturbing all at the same time, very angry and very manic. The hateful way he speaks to the people in the studio is more than a little rude, behavior which I have not heard in earlier studio outtakes.
I have not heard the show but apparently in the LA forum concert of November 70' he acted really cocky and made some comments about the paternity suit. Him making comments like,"she got pregnant by a polaroid, my wife knows I did not do it cause I use birth control", this is some foreshadowing to the TMI he brings to the stage in late 73' and 74'. :oops:

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:57 am

skatterbrane wrote:I so much agree with this! The albums that came after Elvis Country discouraged me, that I stopped buying Elvis Albums after Elvis Now. His voice on He Touched Me and Wonderful World Of Christmas was NOTHING like what came before.


I totally agree. I have all the albums he released after 1970 but I rarely listen to them. They're too depressing. And I cringe when people say that Elvis was at the "top of his game" during the 1973 Aloha show. To me he looks like a shadow of his former self. Thin yes, but strangely bloated and lethargic. (Marty Lacker claims that Elvis was "clean" during this show but I don't buy it.) The show obviously has some highlights but they're nothing like his shows in 1969 and 1970. I think the only albums I truly enjoyed post 1970 were "As Recorded at Madison Square Garden" and "Rockin' With Elvis New Years Eve."

I do agree with others that Elvis had many turning points in his career but I think the most crucial turning point happened between September 1970 through March 1971. His voice deteriorated dramatically and he became a completely different person.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:09 am

Well, I have since bought all of Elvis's albums after Elvis Now just before he died. But his voice changed for the worse after the 1970 marathon and TTWII. His vibrato sounded like he was 70 years old by 1971. And his Tarzan (I like that description!) bellow just is not as appealing as his 68 Comeback growl.

His foray into folk could have been expanded on, but he settled for contemporary country and easy listening, like a stud put out to pasture.

Re: 1972 as the turning point in Elvis' life and career?

Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:49 pm

I still think Sept 1970 to the end of 1972 we have a pretty entertaining guy. Did a decline slowly start yes, but some of his best work was done at the time. There were disapointments, but 1971-72 is under rated and much more interesting than the mid sixties creatively. To me it was actually Aloha that presented an Elvis with less of a voice or presence.