For fans who packed the Coliseum, the big event of their weekend celebration of the Bicentennial Fourth of July was Elvis coming home in concert.

When he strolled on stage, the flash bulbs in the audience turned the scene into a pyrotechnic display which rivalled the fireworks show on the riverfront Sunday night.

“Let me tell you,” he told the whooping, sell-out crowd, “I’ll sing all the songs you want. It’s the end of our tour and I have as much time as you want tonight.”

The show featured the best of two worlds – the flashy professional Hot Hilton Horns orchestra from the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel and the gospel singing Stamps Quartet. They brought the house down with a driving version of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Elvis kept his promise, singing steadily from 10 p.m. until 40 minutes before midnight. The six songs from his long career began with the first recording he did in Memphis, “That’s Alright.”

“They say I shouldn’t sing ‘That’s Alright’ anymore,” he said, picking up his guitar, “but by God watch me.”

His swivel hips brought screams and his glances moans.

“It never ceases to amaze me,” he said, waiting for the waves of screams to die down.

As he sang, fans shoved through the lines of police to load the front edge of the stage with gifts for him – a toy soldier, a cake, a painting, a blue Christmas tree, a lei, pendants and personal letters. He kept wiping his brow with fresh scrafs and tossing them to the forest of hands reaching up to him.

Relaxed and enjoying the show himself, Elvis knelt and said to one of the women jammed against the front of the stage: “What do you want honey? Just my scarf?”

One song, “Help Me,” he said with a twinkle in his eye, was from an album he made two years ago titled “Elvis in the Gutter.”

He was serious only once. Obviously irked by past reports on his health, he said, “The last time I was here I was sick a couple of weeks. But I’m over all that and I’m working and I’m happy.”

There was no doubt that Elvis’ huge following is happy too.


Charles Goodman, The Commercial appeal, Memphis, 11 July 1976