April 2024
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Tribute To Elvis: Documentary In His Own Voice

by Admin

Today is the 35th anniversary of Elvis’ death at Graceland August 16,1977.

Many of us Saigon Kids came of age during the early years of rock n roll. We grew up on it. And, we grew up on Elvis who is credited with starting it all.

For me, I first heard of Elvis while living in San Diego. In 1955 I bought my very first 2 records at a record store in downtown San Diego. The only record store in San Diego that sold Rock’n Roll records. I was 12 years old. Myself and two of my friends (Bob Mosley and John Lovell) took the bus one Saturday to visit the record store. It had those glass booths you went into with the records you wanted to listen to, before deciding which ones you wanted to buy (or sometimes we’d just listen to records and not buy any on that visit). After browsing through the bins of records we entered a booth with 3 or 4 records each and listened to them. I selected 2 EP Albums (remember those 45 rpm’s with 4 songs per record).

What were they?

Elvis – Peace In The Valley (EP)
Elvis – All Shook UP (EP)

I still have them stored away someplace.

In March 1956 everyone at school started talking about Elvis coming to San Diego to do a concert show. I think every kid in school bought tickets. Myself, Mosley and Lovell each got tickets for the April 4th show. The next day at school, we invited 3 of the hottest girls in our 7th grade class to go with us. Up to that point these girls wouldn’t give us the time of day. But, when we went up to them during lunch break and casually asked them if they’d like to go to the Elvis concert with us … they instantly fell madly in love with us. For the next couple weeks until the concert date they stuck to us like glue ignoring all the other guys at school. They’d started showing up early for school, bring us donuts and other tasty treats (just in case we’d forgot to eat breakfast before coming to school). They spent every minute they weren’t in classes with us. They even started inviting us to the movies on Saturday night. They asked us to go steady with them and wanted to wear out jackets (that was the ultimate puppy love commitment back in those days – if a girl wore you jacket, you were considered all but married). We suddenly found ourselves the envy of every guy at school. Talk about our ego’s being inflated! We played it for all it was worth and loved every minute of it. Life was very, very good and we were enjoying our 1st year of Junior High School.

We’d bribed Mosley’s older brother with 2 concert tickets for him and his steady girl. He had *wheels* – a ’49 Merc customized to the max in the finest Southern California fashion. After all we couldn’t take the 3 hottest girls in the 7th grade class to see Elvis … on the bus! Nah, we’d ride in first class style.

The day of the concert arrived. The girls must have phoned us 50 times throughout the day to make sure we were *really going*. Us guys spend hours getting ready for the show, hair greased down and combed perfect, our clothes just right – in the finest James Dean and Elvis styles of the day.

Mosley’s brother picked us all up and we head for the San Diego Arena. We’d left 3 hours before the show so we could get there early – to get good seats. Back then they didn’t sell assigned seats. You just got a ticket to get in the Arena. Once inside it was grab the best seat available.

It was a good thing we left early, as once we got into downtown San Diego the traffic was insane. It seemed like every street within a mile of the Arena was blocked off by police barricades. We finally found a parking place, got out of the car and hoofed it several blocks to the Arena. The streets were packed. Once we got to the Arena we waited in line for about 2 hours. Finally, we got to the entrance doors – handed our tickets to the attendant.

Then … it happened …

Within 3 seconds after we went through the doors, the girls went running toward the stage into the MOB of screaming girls packing the front of the Arena all trying to get to the stage … Yep, they *ditched* us – for Elvis!!

All 4 of us guys just stood there looking at each other with a *what the f**k!?!* look on our faces. But, we quickly realized we weren’t alone. As we looked around we found the front half of the Arena was a MOB of screaming girls … and, the rear half was all other guys in the same boat as us … ditched for Elvis!

Then the show started with Elvis coming on stage – and the Arena turned into an INSANE RIOT scene … everyone pushing and shoving, girls screaming, yelling, crying, dancing around, jumping up and down … it was mass craziness, like we’d never seen before.

The energy levels in the Arena were so HIGH you couldn’t help but get caught up in it … within minutes we found ourselves caught up in it all and were rock’n rolling along with everyone else in the place — even though the screaming was so loud you couldn’t hear the music. All you could see was Elvis and the band moving around on stage — as the crowd went completely out of their minds and control.

We kept looking hoping to see the girls in that ocean of charged up kids. But, we never saw them. Once the show was over, they opened the exit doors to the Arena and everyone flooded out into the streets where the San Diego Police were out in full force attempting to control the crowd of hyped up kids … they didn’t have much success.

We made our way back to the car and hung out there for about an hour or so, thinking the girls would meets us at the car after the concert. They never showed up. Mosley’s brother gave us all a ride home. We didn’t hear from or see the girls until Monday at school — when they gave us back our jackets officially breaking up with us, after thanking us for taking them to the concert of their life — Elvis. Oh well, it was great while it lasted.

During and after the show San Diego was *buzzing* with news reports of how San Diego was *All Shook Up* over Elvis. Here are some bits and pieces from news reports of the time …

Elvis’ very first left coast performance was a taping before a live audience for the Milton Berle Show on April 3, 1956, on the aircraft carrier USS Hancock, docked at the 28th street Naval Station.

“This is the first time that the Hancock is going to rock and roll, while still in anchor,” announced the titular host of NBC’s Milton Berle Show [aka Texaco Star Theater] by way of introducing Elvis. His first performance included “Heartbreak Hotel” (on its way to becoming his first #1 hit), “Hound Dog,” and a few others.

During the show, the Elvis gamely acknowledged the raging controversy about his “shocking” onstage pelvic gyrations by taking part in a comedy sketch. Elvis introduced Berle, dressed as Elvis (world’s first Elvis impersonator?), saying “Mah twin brother, Melvin Presley.”

Berle/Melvin then took credit for all the hip-wiggling, saying “I gave him his singing style. I used to drop grasshoppers down his pants.”

Elvis’ sexually-charged “singing style” was no joke to San Diego police, however.

The next two nights (April 4th and 5th), both of Elvis’s concerts at the San Diego Arena on 8th and Harbor Drive (aka Glacier Garden ) were sold out and police presence was heavy.

Over both evenings, several young women were removed from the Arena, reportedly for “hysterical and lewd behavior.” The Shore Patrol had to set up a floating blockade behind the venue, after two teen girls in their underwear and carrying soaked dresses emerged from the water to make a run for Elvis’s dressing room (they were caught by police and released, presumably after their garments dried). Three people were arrested.

Some girls were reported to have broken into the bathroom of Elvis’s dressing room and stole the toilet seat.

Other reports said, “His Cadillac was covered with obscene messages, and two sailors were arrested for masturbating during the show from watching the antics… After the concert, the police arrested 12 girls running nude through the halls of the El Cortez Hotel, looking for Elvis.”

When Presley was scheduled to return to the Arena June 6, Police Chief Adam Elmer Jansen (the city’s longest-serving Chief, at 14 years) had had enough. “If he puts on the same kind of show that he did last April, I’ll arrest him for disorderly conduct,” he was quoted saying in the San Diego Union (repeated nationwide after newswires picked up the story).

“I’ve had enough complaints from parents to assure me that twerp is not doing the kids any good.” Late in the year, the city Social Services Department held a series of hearings, to discuss whether Presley should be banned from playing in San Diego .

Presley escaped town without being arrested or banned and in fact returned years later to pack them in for three more sold-out performances, after Police Chief Jansen retired.

The next time I’d see Elvis was his November 10, 1957 concert in Hawaii – but that is a story for another time.

CLOD Studio 33 Presents

“In His Own Words and Voice”
The Full Documentary

“Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes.” – Elvis Presley

Enjoy this tribute to Elvis — You’ve never seen anything like this. Over 2 hours of Elvis telling the story of his life in his own words and voice.

The Last 24 Hours

This is an informative, well constructed documentary which includes unseen footage and home video material including the Eddie Fadal footage from the 1950s and scenes filmed by audiences of Elvis’ performances in 1970s. It shows the journey of the last 24 hours in the life of Elvis and includes memories from members of the Memphis Mafia including Sonny West, Billy Smith, Larry Geller, Joe Esposito, Jerry Schilling, Marty Lacker and Lamar Fike.

Narrated by Duncan Wells, Produced and Directed by Mike Parkinson.

Meets Nixon
The Complete Movie

Elvis Meets Nixon is a 1997 film telling the true story of Elvis Presley meeting then President Richard Nixon on December 21, 1970.

The plot of the film, although exaggerated in parts for comedic effect, is actually based on real events and is quite accurate in its telling.

Elvis Presley, bored with his confined existence in Graceland, leaves his home on his own for the first time since he was 21. He winds up in California and is convinced by an Anti-war activist that he is responsible for the drug culture through his influence on The Beatles. This convinces Elvis to write a letter to President Nixon asking to be made a “Federal Agent at Large” for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. No such position actually exists, but Nixon, wanting desperately to win over the youth of America, which he views as hating him, decides to meet with Elvis in an attempt to improve his image with the “kids”.

As always, you’re welcome to leave your comments below.

When did you first hear of Elvis?

What was your first impression and reaction to Elvis?

What did your parents and other adults you knew have to say about Elvis?

How did rock’n roll play a part in your life during the days of your youth?

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