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Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976)

Sun Oct 06, 2013 5:37 am

As a Georgian, I thought it might be neat to create a thread investigating Elvis' multiple shows at the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta between 1973 and 1976 (hopefully there isn't another thread dedicated to the subject that I inadvertently missed). I have read that Elvis considered it one of his favorite venues to play, the crowds were always amazing, and the Omni's sound system was exceptional. Consequently, Elvis tended to give inspired performances, especially during his final visit on December 30, 1976. Is this info true, or is it an exaggeration? If you have vintage newspaper clippings, I would love to see those. Photos, please post. If you were present, please share your memories. I look forward to learning more about Elvis' unique relationship with the Omni. I appreciate it very much.

On a side note, when I was a teenager, my family visited Atlanta in the mid-'90s. We decided to stop by The Varsity, the largest drive-in fast food restaurant in the world. Been in existence since 1928 and stays open past midnight. Anyway, as we were walking into this huge place, there were celebrity photos lining one wall. One was a photo of Elvis, saying that he ordered hamburgers whenever he was in town. So that was how I first learned Elvis performed in Atlanta.

Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Sun Oct 06, 2013 5:56 am

I attended all the shows Elvis did in Atlanta. Don't get me started! LOL This is a picture I made in 1973 (I think the July 3, 1973 show). The lady clapping is our fan club president, Louise McCurley. I sat right behind her on the 2nd row. I'll try to post some other pictures/stories if anyone is interested.

Linda

Atlanta 1973 - Charlie pinning cape.jpg
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Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Sun Oct 06, 2013 6:11 am

lovin' EP wrote:I attended all the shows Elvis did in Atlanta. Don't get me started! LOL This is a picture I made in 1973 (I think the July 3, 1973 show). The lady clapping is our fan club president, Louise McCurley. I sat right behind her on the 2nd row. I'll try to post some other pictures/stories if anyone is interested.

Linda

Atlanta 1973 - Charlie pinning cape.jpg


Thanks Linda. Yes, please post other photos and stories.


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Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Sun Oct 06, 2013 6:26 am

I like this one from Atlanta '73
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Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Sun Oct 06, 2013 6:34 am

Brad, thanks for posting this pic. I can't believe I've never seen it. I'm also posting a newspaper review of the June 21, 1973 show that I sent Francesc many years ago.



CONCERT DATE: June 21, 1973 Atlanta, GA. And -- Wow It Was Elvis by Gregory Jaynes
The Atlanta Constitution
June 22, 1973

They played ELvis' standard opening tune, the weighty theme from "2001" - the one that makes you think that God is coming - and Presley walked out and the Omni sounded like somebody had caught a 10,000 pound banshee in a vice

Outside, scalpers were selling tickets for $30 down to $5, depending on how desperate a man indicated he was. Inside, there were 17,143 paid-in-full consumers yelling like they had bought music on tap

It was the first of five Atlanta performances for Presley, who looks these days like the world's oldest Osmond brother, twitches instead of twists, but still set a place on fire.

After enduring a painful comic - "Tell your kids it's better to be hot and bothered than satisfied and worried, that's telling it like it is" - and a fine-looking-but-this-is-a-warmup-act called the Sweet Inspirations, the folks got what they paid for.

He came out dressed like a General Electric test of 1,000 60-watt lightbulbs and ground right into some good old rock and roll. Thirteen cops positioned themselves in front of the stage and the gutsy fans surged forward, only to be ushered back.

One zealous female security guard charged an Instamatic wielder with a flashlight but the flashbulb popped first and the picture taker was ushered away, happy.

There were young, middle-aged and old in the crowd. The ugly fat girls of the 1950s, the ones you had to find a date when you took their good-looking girlfriend out, are now 35-year-old fat girls who look like they've eating 45 r.p.m. records between meals. They were there amongst others.

"Treat me like a fool, Treat me mean and cruel," ELvis sang, flicking sweat, and the crowd swooned. "Love Me Tender, love me true," he genufled, and 5,000 women were salivating.

He sang the old songs and the new ones and threw away more scarves than clothed Ghandi in his whole lifetime. They fought like dogs over the scarves.

Meanwhile, programs sold out and a concrete-haired woman declared: "I wished I 'd bought one, just on general principle."

He took time out to introduce the band and the people in the crowd were so hyped up they applauded hard for all kinds of names they had never heard. "The guy who gives me water, ladies and gentlemen (Yeeeeeaaah!) and sings harmony with me. His name is Charlie Hodge.

And all the while, there were women who whooped while their husbands sat stiff, trying to notice nothing.

The people, apparently mostly all devout Presley fans, indicated they got what they paid for. There were no boos and no hecklers, only hysterical clappers.

When he launched into "How Great Thou Art," it sounded like the Omni seams were splitting. "Whoowee," yelled a man. "Shoot, that's pretty"

The show ended after Presley bowed in four directions, spreading his orange undercolored cape to all and swooping like Batman.

"Elvis has left the building," an obese master of ceremonies said immediately.

There had been a waiting limousine to take him to the airport, "He won't even use the dressing room," Hovie Lester had said. Lester, one of the South's beat-known gospel singers, is a friend of Charlie Hodge, who carries Elvis' water and sings harmony.

"Same, honey?" a tan, thin man in white shoes asked his lacquer-haired wife on the way out.

"He is," she said. "I ain't."

Courtesy of Linda Helms
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Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Sun Oct 06, 2013 7:03 am

Not a very endearing review... sounds like he should have stayed home.

Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:53 am

Please...share more memories with us...much appreciated.. ::rocks

Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Sun Oct 06, 2013 12:20 pm

Thanks Linda

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Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Sun Oct 06, 2013 6:38 pm

This is from the April 30- thru May 2, 1975 shows in Atlanta. The stage was always quite high in Atlanta. I was on front row for all three shows. My sister-in-law (at the time) flew from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Atlanta to attend the shows with me. We also met Sean Shaver at one of these shows (don't rememer which one of the three we met him). Elvis wore the two piece suits, and he actually looked very nice in them.


Pictures from Charlie 201.jpg
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Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Sun Oct 06, 2013 7:52 pm

What about December 30, 1976? Were you happy with it? Did it seem that he was healthier than when he had most recently been there? This is a concert I want a soundboard of.

Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:08 pm

lovin' EP wrote:I attended all the shows Elvis did in Atlanta. Don't get me started! LOL This is a picture I made in 1973 (I think the July 3, 1973 show). The lady clapping is our fan club president, Louise McCurley. I sat right behind her on the 2nd row. I'll try to post some other pictures/stories if anyone is interested.

Linda

Atlanta 1973 - Charlie pinning cape.jpg


Louise and her family were photographed with Elvis in his dressing room at one of the other Atlanta shows in '73. She brought him a large, stuffed Hound Dog.

http://www.elvis-collectors.com/candid- ... 73fan.html

Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:23 pm

I would LOVE a soundboard of 12/31/76, as well. And yes, he seemed much healthier than when he was in Atlanta in June of 1976. It was a very momentous night at the Omni. I had heard that he tried to get Atlanta for the next night, but couldn't arrange it. And I heard that the Omni already had him booked for Deceember 31, 1977. :(

A friend of my sister had always told my sister that it was her husband's dream to shake Elvis' hand. So when I got the tickets for Atlanta December 30, 1976, I had two front row, one second row and 7 tickets on the 7th row center. I gave Brenda and Gene two tickets on the 7th row. I told Gene to squeeze in with me when Elvis' part of the show started, and when Elvis popped up on the stage, I told Gene to walk to the edge of the stage and extend his hand and hopefully Elvis would shake it. Gene almost "wimped" out on me, but when Elvis popped up, I literally pushed Gene up to the stage. Elvis shook a few hands before he got to Gene. Then Elvis turned his back to the audience to wave to the crowd sitting behind the stage. When Elvis turned around, he saw Gene's hand and walked over to him and shook it. Gene had on a red jacket, and I told him that Elvis couldn't miss that red jacket. Gene looked really cool. After he shook Elvis' hand, Gene went back to his seat on the 7th row to sit with Brenda. It was one of the best shows I had ever seen, with a few rare songs included.

Linda

Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:33 pm

Love your stories, Linda...I am back ..btw... :wink:

Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:48 pm

Linda, how did you achieve all these front row seats every time? Neat!

One of my favorite 8 MM films was this Dec 30, 1976 show. I had a very early generation copy so Elvis is very clear on the first half, before he turns into the white blur we all know so well. What is another cool aspect of this show is all the interaction with the audience here. It seems particularly warm and genuine here, especially the footage with Elvis kneeling at the foot of the stage and having Happy Birthday sung to him by the audience.

Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:55 pm

Keep 'em coming Linda! As I have told you before, I saw 3 of the Omni shows June 30th, 1973(afternoon show), April 30th, 1975 and December 30th, 1976.. I just realized every time I saw Elvis in Atlanta was the 30th day of the month! Agree about the '76 New Years Eve, Eve show. One of the best. I also would love a soundboard of that show but since FTD released an audience recording of Pittsburgh I doubt very seriously if one exists.

Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Sun Oct 06, 2013 10:25 pm

steve in SC wrote:Keep 'em coming Linda! As I have told you before, I saw 3 of the Omni shows June 30th, 1973(afternoon show), April 30th, 1975 and December 30th, 1976.. I just realized every time I saw Elvis in Atlanta was the 30th day of the month! Agree about the '76 New Years Eve, Eve show. One of the best. I also would love a soundboard of that show but since FTD released an audience recording of Pittsburgh I doubt very seriously if one exists.


aparrantly one of the bootleg labels ( i forgot which one) was able to get the first half of the show but passed on it because it wasnt complete.
I think if one does exist, it would sound like the December 29 and december 28 1976 soundboard. I Rather have atlanta if only for ''Such a night'' :D

Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Mon Oct 07, 2013 1:26 am

Steve, I worked my arse off to get front row seats. For the 1973 shows, I had second row with our fan club because I as an "honorary" member. For the 1975 shows, I got them straight from the guy who booked Elvis at the Omni. His name was Tom Kuna. I started writing/calling the Omni right after the 1973 shows, requesting front row tickets the next time Elvis came to the Omni. I sent Mr. Kuna a letter and enclosed a check for $40.00 for four tickets ($10 each way back then). They sent me the letter and check back stating they could not accept money for an event not yet booked. I just returned everything to them, explaining what a fan I was and asked them to keep the check and get me 4 front rows the next time Elvis came to Atlanta. This went on for about a year and a half. They finally stopped enclosing a letter with my check when they returned it. I just mailed the check back to them. Finally around December 1974, I did not get my check back from Tom. I KNEW they had Elvis booked. I called and spoke with Tom and he told me that "yes, he had my check." I told him thank you that I was just checking to make sure it was not lost. Anyway, I guess sometime in February there was an official announcement of Elvis' three shows on April 30, May 1, and May 2, 1975. Tickets went on sale and I went down and got tickets for all three shows on about the 20th row. No too bad, but I wasn't happy. When I got home from work one day, I called up the Omni about 5:30 p.m. and asked to speak to Tom. They said they didn't know if he was still there so I told them to find him and tell him Linda was on the phone. It took a while, but Tom actually came to the phone. I explained to him that I had tickets on the 20th row for each show. I told him that he had kept my check for almost three months and I wanted to know if he was going to help me out. He just said "you will get your front row tickets" and asked me how many tickets I wanted and did I want to come down to the Omni and get them or did I want them mailed? I just sat down on my bed and started crying and told him he would NEVER know how much this meant to me. I told him I would be down to the Omni the next morning to pick up the tickets. When I got to Tom's office he had the tickets in his desk and reached in and pulled them out and gave them to me. He even had a security guard to escort me to my car! So that's how I ended up with those tickets.

For the December 1976 show, I waited in line for two days and was the first to step up to the ticket window. You could only buy ten tickets at a time so I asked her for one ticket in order to get the best possible seat. The ticket was on the second row center so I was happy. Then I ordered 9 more tickets and she reached under the counter and pulled out nine tickets. They consisted of one front row center and the rest were on the seventh row.

Linda

Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Mon Oct 07, 2013 1:49 am

lovin' EP wrote:Steve, I worked my arse off to get front row seats. For the 1973 shows, I had second row with our fan club because I as an "honorary" member. For the 1975 shows, I got them straight from the guy who booked Elvis at the Omni. His name was Tom Kuna. I started writing/calling the Omni right after the 1973 shows, requesting front row tickets the next time Elvis came to the Omni. I sent Mr. Kuna a letter and enclosed a check for $40.00 for four tickets ($10 each way back then). They sent me the letter and check back stating they could not accept money for an event not yet booked. I just returned everything to them, explaining what a fan I was and asked them to keep the check and get me 4 front rows the next time Elvis came to Atlanta. This went on for about a year and a half. They finally stopped enclosing a letter with my check when they returned it. I just mailed the check back to them. Finally around December 1974, I did not get my check back from Tom. I KNEW they had Elvis booked. I called and spoke with Tom and he told me that "yes, he had my check." I told him thank you that I was just checking to make sure it was not lost. Anyway, I guess sometime in February there was an official announcement of Elvis' three shows on April 30, May 1, and May 2, 1975. Tickets went on sale and I went down and got tickets for all three shows on about the 20th row. No too bad, but I wasn't happy. When I got home from work one day, I called up the Omni about 5:30 p.m. and asked to speak to Tom. They said they didn't know if he was still there so I told them to find him and tell him Linda was on the phone. It took a while, but Tom actually came to the phone. I explained to him that I had tickets on the 20th row for each show. I told him that he had kept my check for almost three months and I wanted to know if he was going to help me out. He just said "you will get your front row tickets" and asked me how many tickets I wanted and did I want to come down to the Omni and get them or did I want them mailed? I just sat down on my bed and started crying and told him he would NEVER know how much this meant to me. I told him I would be down to the Omni the next morning to pick up the tickets. When I got to Tom's office he had the tickets in his desk and reached in and pulled them out and gave them to me. He even had a security guard to escort me to my car! So that's how I ended up with those tickets.

For the December 1976 show, I waited in line for two days and was the first to step up to the ticket window. You could only buy ten tickets at a time so I asked her for one ticket in order to get the best possible seat. The ticket was on the second row center so I was happy. Then I ordered 9 more tickets and she reached under the counter and pulled out nine tickets. They consisted of one front row center and the rest were on the seventh row.

Linda


Love your persistance and the memories you have!!

Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Mon Oct 07, 2013 1:51 am

Linda, I know you were happy but were you a bit mystified that he was coming there so often? A December show after a series of June shows is unheard of for a major touring act.

Were the June shows satisfactory or was there some concern about what he was doing? Did you ever see him at a different venue?

Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:01 am

Love this story! This is the way it used to be. Passionate, devoted fans who HAD to be there when Elvis came to town.

I wondered if the gentleman posing with Elvis backstage was Tom Kuna. I couldn't find a photo of him, but did find a magazine published on the second anniversary of the opening of the Omni.
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Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Mon Oct 07, 2013 1:55 pm

I attended all the shows Elvis did in Atlanta. Don't get me started! LOL This is a picture I made in 1973 (I think the July 3, 1973 show). The lady clapping is our fan club president, Louise McCurley. I sat right behind her on the 2nd row. I'll try to post some other pictures/stories if anyone is interested.

Linda


Thanks so much for your bird's eye account, Linda. You're definitely keeping Elvis alive for those of us who were never able to see him in concert. So, is Elvis' final appearance in Atlanta your favorite Elvis concert that you attended? Or, would it be another?

Even though the newspaper review was a bit holier-than-thou, I appreciated some of the reporter's snarkiness and creativity (e.g. the line about Elvis... "who looks these days like the world's oldest Osmond brother"). It's obvious that he was a non-Elvis fan and an outsider commenting on what he saw.

Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:08 pm

Brad, many thanks for posting the June 1973 photo of Elvis. I always like Elvis concert pics in the six months post-Aloha where the after-glow of that historic show is still evident (Edit: Thanks Scott Hayward for pointing out that the photo actually comes from June 26, 1973, in Pittsburgh. I'll edit my post to reflect the new info. You can read a 2007 article from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that has the photo in question http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/ae/music/elvis-played-pittsburgh-on-a-new-years-eve-months-before-death-497436/).

And before I forget, my sincere appreciation goes to Elvis-fan, Jak, ElvisJock, Stevelecher, Steve in SC, Johnny 2523, Ciscoking, Keninlincs, PaulSweeney, and everyone else for their replies.
Last edited by jeremylr on Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:28 pm, edited 4 times in total.

Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:13 pm

jeremylr wrote:Brad, many thanks for posting the June 1973 photo of Elvis @ the Omni.
That photo is actually from Pittsburgh June 26...

Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Mon Oct 07, 2013 6:53 pm

Elvisjock, here's my recording of What Now My Love. Our resident poster, The Fool, used the pics that you posted in this video. I sent him the pictues out of the booklet I got from the Omni that night. I already posted this quite a while ago, but hopefully it will be new to some of you guys.

phpBB [video]

Re: Elvis at Atlanta's Omni Coliseum: A Look Back (1973–1976

Mon Oct 07, 2013 7:49 pm

Linda, you rock. Thank you for taking the time to post your stories about your Elvis experiences.

They are a breath of fresh air.