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"One Way Ticket Home": Elvis' Crowning

Sun May 12, 2013 10:25 am

This is possibly the most arcane and odd "Elvis tribute" EVER done. It is, of course, not about Elvis; it's about the singer himself. The singer is Phil Ochs, a very well-known artist during the folk/folk rock era. He generally did topical songs, but had an interest in early rock, and Elvis in particular. When he wore the Gold Suit at Carnegie Hall, it caused quite an uproar. He performed rock and roll.

The "Gunfight At Carnegie Hall" happened after he cut the tracks for the album displayed below, and the song in question.

But he sings about something that biographers and others all seem to agree upon: that Phil and Michael Ochs (the rock archivist) were there, at Opening Night, in 1969. But I have never seen a photo, and I haven't seen a direct interview with Michael Ochs regarding this, that I recall. Perhaps someone could refresh my memory, or come up with more detail.

I know that in the best-known early biography, by Marc Eliot, the author errs and says the show began with the 2001 theme. The book was written after Ochs' 1976 suicide, and I suppose the author never actually saw a show. But what did Ochs see?

"Elvis Presley is the King; I was at his crowning/
My life just passed before my eyes/I must be drowning"

Released: February, 1970. Said to be recorded in late 1969, in a WiKi entry. This gives credence to the account.

Phil Ochs Greatest Hits.jpg

Any assistance would be most appreciated. Thank you.

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Re: "One Way Ticket Home": Elvis' Crowning

Sun May 12, 2013 10:51 am

I can't say for sure that it was opening night but there is a lot of talk about the Ochs attending Vegas in 1969. I have no reference to Michael talking, I'm afraid.

Seemingly, Phil, a lifelong Elvis fan, was overwhelmed with Elvis' presence on stage and decided (perhaps ironically) that EP was the only man who could unite the American people in a revolution. Elvis himself would obviously want nothing to do with it so Phil decided that he would BE Elvis himself, hence the gold suit.

The shown LP title was a deliberate misnomer: it was actually a new album titled and packaged to reflect the general Elvis product.

Here's a good link to an interesting Word document (it's okay to download):,d.d2k

Re: "One Way Ticket Home": Elvis' Crowning

Sun May 12, 2013 11:47 am

Thanks so much, George. The piece is now in my Dropbox, so I'll just read it in the morning. Ochs material is always interesting.

No way to know what he saw and precisely when he saw it, though? Odd.

Because it would not only be of interest to know the set list he heard, but what Elvis said on stage!

Also, there's the now well-known photo from the curtain going down on Opening Night: Elvis is clearly making some sort of rumpled peace sign (or a sign of his own victory). While doing so, Elvis is eying someone in the audience.


So, I really do want to know: what did Phil see (and hear)? And why did it seemingly both thrill and depress him? Perhaps, he was frustrated that he didn't have what he considered Elvis's magical abilities to inspire. And he so wanted to.

It is horribly ironic that the crowned King died just about as miserable as Ochs had been when Ochs directly took his life just one year before Elvis Presley's own date with destiny.

"Must be hard being a King."

Thanks again for the document! I will enjoy it; I'm sure. :)


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