Forty-five years ago, Elvis made history in Hawaii
January 14, 2018
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The Concert Seen Around the World: 'Aloha from Hawaii'
1972 and 1973 were great years to be Elvis fans. In 1972, Elvis released the documentary 'Elvis on Tour', giving fans a good long look at his concerts and the work that went into producing them. In fact, the 'Aloha from Hawaii' concert was supposed to take place in November 1972, but MGM, who produced the documentary, feared it was too close to the movie's opening. 'Aloha' was pushed to January 1973. The November 1972 concerts happened, anyway, but they weren't filmed.
Two press conferences were held to promote 'Aloha'. The first was on September 4, 1972, in Las Vegas, followed by a second on at Hawaiian Hilton Village on November 20, 1972.
Elvis: Aloha Press Conference Sept 4, 1972 (06:00)
Elvis: Aloha Press Conference November 20, 1972 (01:02)
Elvis arrived in Hawaii on January 9, 1973, to begin rehearsals. Naturally, such a big production needed a few back-up plans and extra precautions. Elvis had two of the exact same jumpsuits made for the show, including one to wear in the dress rehearsal on January 12. In fact, that dress rehearsal was also filmed, just in case there were issues with the satellite broadcast and the rehearsal show needed to be broadcast instead.
Elvis had just celebrated his 38th birthday on January 8.
Elvis took the stage just after midnight, Hawaii time, on January 14.
Naturally, Elvis wanted to use the concert to give back. There was no set ticket price for the concert; instead, donations were given. The more the donation, the better the seat. Elvis actually purchased a ticket for himself and his entourage at $100 each (which, with inflation, would be over $575 in today's money).
He asked that donations and merchandise sales go to the Kui Lee Cancer Fund, which had been established following the songwriter's death in 1966. Lee wrote hits like 'Ain't No Big Thing', 'The Days of My Youth' and 'I'll Remember You', which Elvis covered in many of his concerts, including in the 'Aloha' special. The goal was to raise $25,000, but - of course - that goal was surpassed. A total of $75,000 was raised for the fund.
The 'Aloha' concerts were filmed at the Honolulu International Center (now known as the Neal S. Blaisdell Center).
Elvis' 'Aloha from Hawaii' aired in more than 40 countries across Asia and Europe. The special didn't air in the United States on January 14, though. There was another major TV moment happening on U.S. televisions on January 14 - a little thing called Super Bowl VII - so 'Aloha from Hawaii' aired on April 4. It is estimated, though, that between 1 and 1.5 billion viewers watched the king's special.
The setlist included hits like 'See See Rider', 'Burning Love', 'You Gave Me a Mountain', 'Suspicious Minds', 'Fever', and 'I Can't Stop Loving You'.
Read more in depth about Elvis Presley | Hawaii | January 14, 1973
Aloha From Hawaii Press Conferences | 1972
Aloha From Hawaii | The Concerts
Elvis Presley : Arriving In Hawaii : January 9, 1973
Elvis Presley : Aloha From Hawaii Rehearsal Concert : January 12, 1973
Elvis Presley : Receiving an award, backstage : January 13, 1973, before his Aloha Concert
Elvis Presley : 'Aloha From Hawaii' : January 14, 1973
Aloha From Hawaii | The Reviews
CD and DVDs
Review: Aloha From Hawaii Concert
By Jon Landau
March 29, 1973
My God! Another live album from my hero. He's turning them out as fast as he once made movie soundtracks. And with as little point, in view of the fact that the material, patter, structure and sound vary so little from record to record. On the other hand, they sell better than his current studio albums, and those haven't exactly been aesthetic triumphs, so maybe there is some logic to it.
Just the same, 'Suspicious Minds' has been released live from Las Vegas, Madison Square Garden and Hawaii and not one of these versions comes close to the sheer artistry of the Memphis studio original. The live 'Burning Love' is a mockery of Elvis' best single since 'Suspicious Minds'. The 'American Trilogy', El's version of Mickey Newbury's simple but effective blending of 'Dixie', 'All My Trials' and 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' doesn't generate anything near the power of actually seeing him do it.
In the enjoyable documentary Elvis On Tour he turns his performance into a visual drama. By contrast, the live recording magnifies the worst element of Elvis' stage show - the simplistic horn arrangements, poorly performed - while the film magnifies the depth of Elvis' commitment to the music.
I usually enjoy hearing him do the ballad staples he became identified with during the movie phase, especially the by-now haunting 'Can't Help Falling in Love', with which he closes each concert (and here given its worst recording yet). But when he strays into the pure Caesar's Palace repertory that includes 'What Now My Love', 'You Gave Me a Mountain', and 'My Way', depression easily crosses over the line into disgust.
As usual, Elvis trys his hand with some recently popular chart material; thus, a mediocre 'Something in the Way She Moves', and a bloated 'Steamroller Blues', only partially salvaged by some elegant James Burton lead guitar. The band is impersonal but astoundingly tight and professional throughout.
Charlie Gillett once noted that in his early records Elvis sang at the top of his vocal range but that soon after the move to RCA he started singing lower. The high notes were the mark of an innocently beautiful approach to rock & roll singing, the bass ones more symptomatic of his penchant for self-mockery. And on this album he seldom crawls past the middle register at all, a sure sign of what he's thinking about himself.
There are moments when he pushes past every fault of the format and generates not just smoke but fire - as on a rousing 'See See Rider'. But it is his good moments more than the bad ones that remind me of Greil Marcus' comment that Elvis Presley's whole career has been a throwaway. Albums like this one prove he was right. It is just that when I hear in the smallest ray of hope - like the interplay between Presley's voice, Burton's guitar, and Ronny Tutt's drums on 'Rider' - that I remember that there isn't a reason in the world why he couldn't make an album that was good from beginning to end. Does he have to throw it all away?
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