Review of Elvis On Tour in 1977

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**Elvis On Tour 1977**

Tour 28 and 29

Elvis in Knoxville
Elvis in Knoxville, May 20 1977

Elvis in Louisville
Elvis in Louisville, May 21 1977
Next up was a tour at the end of May. It started in May 20 in Knoxville and ended in Macon on June 2. (Elvis performed 4 extra shows, to catch up the one he canceled in March/April). This tour is probably the worst of them all. From rather mediocre concerts to "horrifying" concerts. There exist a few bootlegs from this tour.

On May 22 Elvis visited Largo. The complete concert was released on the bootleg Tonight 8:30 PM in acceptable sound quality. This day 'Funny How Time Slips Away' was performed early in the concert. Normally this song would be one of the last one performed before the concert ended. "Funny" is quite good, but in general the concert is not 'outstanding' to put it that way...

In May 1977 almost every concert included the same songs. Once in a while, however, Elvis did some rare numbers, like 'One Night' in Rochester, New York May 25. This concert was released on the bootleg Jailhouse Rock Man In Concert (Not the most appropriate name I can think of....). The sound is rather poor, and it is not easy to get an idea of the overall quality of the show. 'One Night' is not bad, though.

Up next are two concerts in two days in Binghamton, New York. The concert on May 26 was released on a bootleg called Unchained Elvis. Elvis did not sing Unchained Melody this day, though, but the bootleg also features three numbers from the day after. On May 27 Elvis sang 'Unchained Melody (a good one!) and also performed his second "1977"- version of 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'. He stopped after a while on the first try, expressing some language, but finally managed to complete a good version, although he is a bit out of it in the end of the song...

Baltimore May 29 1977 represents one of the absolute low-points in Elvis' career. This day Elvis is so weak he has to leave the stage for over 20 minutes. He first sings a lot of old songs in the beginning of the concert ('That's Alright', 'Are You Lonesome Tonight', 'Blue Christmas' and 'Heartbreak Hotel', 'Love Me' and 'Jailhouse Rock'). Then right after 'You Gave Me A Mountain' Elvis asks S. Nielsen to sing some numbers. Obviously not enough, Elvis after singing 'Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel' "hands over" the responsibility to the band. He then leaves the stage. Meanwhile Kathy Westmoreland, Voice and the Stamps all did their best to entertain a dismayed audience.

This concert was released on a rather poor sounding bootleg called Send Me The Light... I Need It Bad.
Baltimore
Before the concert in Baltimore

Singing 'Unchained Melody'
Unhained Melody
Even the introduction of the band is taking place without Elvis present. Then suddenly, at the end of the introduction, Elvis is back. First excusing his absence, he then says that he had to leave because of an acing ankle "and nature cause...and you can do nothing about the nature..."

A shocked audience was eager to hear Elvis sing. They had traveled several miles, waited for hours and paid for an Elvis-concert, and the main attraction left the stage! Elvis tries to repair by singing a powerful 'Hurt'. After 'Hound Dog' he performs 'Help Me'. However, Elvis obviously noticed the lack of excitement from the audience, and almost helplessly ask "What do you wanna hear?". This leads to a very impressive version of 'Unchained Melody'. I can't help but wonder where Elvis found the energy and power to sing this song like he does here, given the overall shape he was in. But this was not enough, and Elvis managed to sing even 5 more numbers, including an incomplete version of 'The Wonder Of You'.

There is a story that Elvis right after this concert collapsed in the elevator. I don't know if it is true, but it is not very unlikely...
# Note: "A physically and artistically subpar Elvis Presley walked out on a strange concert performance for half an hour here Sunday night (29), but eventually returned. A Civic Center spokesman attributed the vet rock and roll singers murmuring, swearing and unscheduled haitus to the reported intestinal problems that had kayoed Presley from an earlier portion of this tour. After the break Presley came on like gangbusters as he politely and apologetically tried to recoup his losses. He succeeded to the extent that only a handful asked for refunds but at the finale there was no ovation, and patrons exited shaking their heads and speculating what was wrong with him."... By Marty Bennet, Variety, May 1977.

In Jacksonville, Florida the day after, Elvis introduced 'I Really Don't Want To Know' for the first time. It takes Elvis and Tony Brown a couple of "attempts", but on third try Elvis hits the key right away! This would be a regular part of the bandintro until the last concert.

The press announces that Elvis has signed a contract with CBS for a one hour special in the fall. It was decided that two concert from tour 29 should be filmed - June 19 in Omaha and June 21 in Rapid City.

The tour closing concert in Mobile, Alabama had Elvis sing 'American Trilogy' for the first time in many months, and definitely for the last time ever. Except from at bad timing in the middle of the song, it is a powerful version. Not among his greatest deliveries, but the last time he performed Trilogy was after all in Tulsa on July 4, 1976. The Mobile concert is pretty ordinary, but Elvis really do excel on 'Unchained Melody'.

Springfield June 17 was to be the start of the last tour ever, tour number 29 since 1969.
Elvis in Macon
Elvis in Macon, Ga June 1 1977
Kansas City, June 18
Elvis and Jackie Kahane
before the concert
Before this tour Elvis had actually called president J. Carter to try to help out his friend George Klein in a federal court case. This was on June 13. The day after Carter called Elvis at 5:18 PM, but reluctantly gave up after approx. 10 minutes when he could not understand Elvis' incoherent conversation. Elvis called Carter again, but this time the president refuse to answer the phone.

On June 18 Elvis held a concert in Kansas City. This concert is featured on the bootleg video The Last Tour. The quality is very good considering that it is amateur footage. The version of 'Are You Lonesome Tonight' is quite funny, with Elvis and Charlie Hodge doing their "act" on stage...
Kansas City, June 18
Kansas City, June 18 1977
Singing 'Are You Lonesome Tonight'
Then it was time for the CBS crew to record and film Elvis in Omaha, Nebraska. This concert is described as one of the poorest ever held by Elvis. In general that is true. Elvis was very out of focus and had probably taken too many "downers". He was sluggish, from the moment he went on the stage to the final song. Elvis looses the lyrics in the beginning of 'Are You Lonesome Tonight', he is off-key in 'I Really Don't Want To Know', while 'Hurt' is amazingly well performed...
Candid Elvis On Camera
More Info

As I Leave You
More Info
This concert was released simultaneously by two different labels. Captain Marvel Jr. on their Candid Elvis On Camera and Ecolorado on their As I Leave You. Because the microphone system in Omaha was out of proper order in the beginning of the concert, and the fact that Felton Jarvis decided not to record the band, the sound quality is not the greatest I have heard. Also this show is featured in it's completeness on the bootleg version of 'Elvis In Concert' (The CBS Tapes).

In Lincoln after the show, Elvis sat in his bed in his pajamas asking Joe Guercio "Well, what do you think?". Joe said "It was a fair dress rehearsal", to which Elvis replied "Yeah, you're right". According to Ed Parker Elvis was not too happy about the situation before the concert in Omaha. The stadium was crowded with people and cameras. He said to Ed "How come I get placed in these situations?". Looking out of the window, biting his lip he said "Ah...hell, I guess it's show business!"
Omaha, June 19
Omaha, concluding 'Hound Dog'
Lincoln, June 20
Lincoln, June 20.
The evening after the show in Omaha, Elvis immediately traveled to Lincoln where he slept over night (well...did he really..?). The day after Elvis held a concert in the "little" Pershing Municipal Auditorium (7.500 attendants). This day he performs one of the better versions of 'Unchained Melody' I have heard. Even 'Hound Dog' is given some extra attention this day.

Rapid City, South Dakota was next. From this concert the majority of CBS' "Elvis In Concert" was taken.

The CBS crew: "We picked Rapid City for filming because it was Elvis' first concert in that hall. He'd never been to Rapid City before. We wanted to avoid any possible audience disappointment over him being overweight"
Good choice from CBS, as Elvis in Rapid City managed to perform one of his better "1977-concert". It was a totally different Elvis appearing on stage, compared to two days earlier. Story has it that Elvis took many tablets of Ionamin, his favorite appetite depressant. At least Elvis was much "trimmer" in Rapid City, than only two days later.

As always when Elvis was in good spirit he delivers a good version of 'See See Rider'. This day too. In fact Elvis stopped the song, just to say that someone did a mistake... and then began sing as if nothing had happened. A strange moment, really. Elvis was filmed by CBS and he manages to find an unnoticeable error, and stops the band... This incident was cut from the official version of "Elvis In Concert" (where they edited in snippets of Elvis singing the same song in Omaha) and also edited out this sequenze on the album with the same name.

# "I thought the show in Omaha was very very bad. He was pale and unsteady. I don't even know if he knew where he was. Maybe he did. And yet the other show,...it was pretty good. His voice was strung. Physically he looked awful, but he was steady on his feet, and in Omaha he was not" (...John Wilkinson)
Rapid City, June 21
Rapid City, June 21.
After his regular I Got A Woman/Amen "session", Elvis performs a very good version of 'That's Allright', and a (just almost) funny, still good 'Are You Lonesome Tonight'. 'Love Me' is a very good version, and the same goes for 'If You Love Me'. 'Trying To Get You' is share dynamite! For some strange reasons CBS decided to omit this masterpiece in their one-hour production. Like 'My Way' and 'Little Sister', Elvis always performed 'Trying To Get To You' with bravura. At least CBS included 'My Way' on the TV-Special.

Another highlight that CBS omitted from this show was 'Hawaiian Wedding Song'. Elvis had complete control over his voice and this version is better than others I have heard from 1973 - 1975.

'Early Morning Rain' was first omitted from the TV-Special, but at the end included. On the TV-Special CBS used the version from Omaha, while the Rapid City version (the better one) was used on the LP album.
'I Really Don't Want To Know' was included on both TV and LP special. Elvis started singing this song only 3 weeks ago, and it is a kind of song that really fitted Elvis' voice and overall condition at the time.

There is no doubt that Elvis was influenced by another type of medication than in Omaha. In Omaha he was "sluggish", while he in Rapid City was...well "rapid". Due to this, Elvis has some problems completing sentences. During the introduction of J. D. and The Stamps, Elvis tries to tell the audience that he used to watch J. D. sing together with the Statesmen in his early days, but it is very difficult to catch exactly what he says.

After the concert in Des Moines, June 23, Ronnie Tutt leaves the band for good. He is replaced with Jerome Monroe (June 24) and Larrie Londin (June 25 and 26). In Madison, June 24 Elvis sings 'One Night' for the last time.

While driving to Madison, Elvis stops the car so he could get out to assist a gas station attendant who is set upon by two youth. The fight came to a sudden end, as the two youth was shocked by the fact that Elvis Presley stood in front of them. The whole scene ended with Elvis getting them to shake hand, promise not to fight anymore, and finally a picture taken of all three. (From the newspaper)

Before the concert in Cincinnati, Elvis finds out that the hotels air-condition does not function! Elvis immediately leaves for another hotel, which was not easy since most the accommodations where taken... Elvis was in town!

Cincinnati, June 25
Cincinnati, June 25
Cincinnati, June 25
Elvis together with David Stanley. Leaving the hotel, trying to find another one. After the show Elvis instead headed home.

Cover
More info
The concert in Cincinnati was released on a very rare bootleg called Since Cincinnati. In my point of view this concert is among the best in 1977. Elvis does very good versions of 'See See Rider', and 'If You Love Me' among others. For the last time Elvis performes 'Unchained Melody'. This is one of the best versions I have ever heard!
Arriving the airport in Indianapolis on June 26, Elvis is presented with a plaque for the "Moody Blue" album.

Elvis' very last concert is one of the longest ever in 1977. It features several "rare" songs for the year, and in general it is a fair concert.

Many Elvis fans find this to be one of the best concerts in 1977, but I can't agree to that. Elvis is way out some places, and he has problems completing both songs and sentences.

  (John Wilkinson, July 1, 1977)
  # "We played in Indianapolis three times....But the last one was really good. The place came unglued, like they were really glad to see him. It was a dynamite show, rock and roll all the way. But he looked whipped when he came around the corner to get off the stage at then end of the show. He really looked tired"
Indianapolis, June 26
Indianapolis, June 26.
Cover The concert in Indianapolis has been released on several bootlegs through the years. The best one so far is Adios, The Final Performance. Elvis performs a few "unregular" songs on this concert, like 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', 'Release Me' and 'I Can't Stop Loving You'. Unfortunately there was no place for 'Unchained Melody' this evening, although the concert in Indinapolis is one of the longest ever performed in his lifetime.

To be continued...
Thanks to Oto Meszaros for providing information from this period. In addition, thanks to those I have borrowed pictures from. I have taken some from this site, and some from another site. Claude Baker has been helpful with information about different pictures on this focus. I have been told that many of the pictures has been shot by Bob Heis, actually no big surprise....

Tour 25
(Feb. 12 to Feb. 21)

See See Rider
I Got A Woman/Amen
Love Me
If You Love Me
Trying To Get To You
You Gave Me A Mountain
All Shook Up
That's Alright, Mama
Are You Lonesome Tonight?
And I Love You So
It's Now Or Never
Jailhouse Rock
Hound Dog
Fever
Polk Salad Annie
Love Letters
Hurt
Funny How Time Slips Away
Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
Moody Blue (Feb. (20) and 21)
Unchained Melody
Big Boss Man
Little Sister
Help Me
My Way
How Great Thou Art
Where Noone Stands Alone (Feb. 16)
Blueberry Hill (Feb. 13 and Feb. 14)
Blue Suede Shoes
Why Me, Lord
Release Me
Fairytale
Reconsider Baby
My Boy (one-line)
Can't Help Falling In Love
 
 
 
 
Tour 26
(March 23 to March 30)

See See Rider
I Got A Woman/Amen
Love Me
If You Love Me
Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
You Gave Me A Mountain
And I Love You So
Little Sister
Jailhouse Rock
Hound Dog
Fever
Hurt
Funny How Time Slips Away
My Way
Trying To Get To You
Are You Lonesome Tonight?
That's Alright, Mama
Love Me Tender
Steamroller Blues
Blue Suede Shoes
How Great Thou Art
It's Now Or Never
Help Me
Blue Christmas
Lawdy, Miss Clawdy
You Better Run/
Bosom Of Abraham (March 29)
Can't Help Falling In Love
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tour 27
(April 21 to May 3)

See See Rider
I Got A Woman/Amen
Love Me
If You Love Me
Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
You Gave Me A Mountain
Little Sister
And I Love You So
Jailhouse Rock
Hound Dog
Fever
Polk Salad Annie
Heartbreak Hotel
Big Boss Man (April 26)
Hurt
Funny How Time Slips Away
My Way
Trying To Get To You
Are You Lonesome Tonight?
That's Alright, Mama
Love Me Tender
The Wonder Of You
Bridge Over Troubled Water (April 29)
Blue Suede Shoes
How Great Thou Art
It's Now Or Never
(includes snippets of 'Blue Hawaii')
Help Me
Fairytale
Blue Christmas
Early Morning Rain
Hawaiian Wedding Song
Unchained Melody
Little Darlin'
Mystery Train/Tiger Man (May 3)
Trouble (incomplete May 3)
Happy Birthday (May 3)
Rip It Up (incomplete)
Can't Help Falling In Love

Tour 28
(May 20 to June 2)

See See Rider
I Got A Woman/Amen
Love Me
If You Love Me
Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
You Gave Me A Mountain
Little Sister
Fairytale
And I Love You So
Jailhouse Rock
Hound Dog
Big Boss Man
Polk Salad Annie
Heartbreak Hotel
One Night (May 25)
Bridge Over Troubled Water (May 27)
I Really Don't Want To Know (May 30)
Hurt
Funny How Time Slips Away (May 22)
My Way
Love Me Tender
Are You Lonesome Tonight? (May 29)
Blue Christmas (May 29)
That's Alright, Mama (May 29)
Help Me (May 29)
The Wonder Of You (incomplete) (May 29)
Blue Suede Shoes (May 29)
American Trilogy (June 2)
How Great Thou Art
It's Now Or Never
Early Morning Rain
Unchained Melody (May 29)
Can't Help Falling In Love
Tour 29, The Last Tour
(June 17 to June 26)

See See Rider (June 25)
I Got A Woman/Amen
Big Boss Man
Are You Lonesome Tonight? (June 19)
Blue Christmas
That's Alright, Mama
Love Me
If You Love Me (June 25)
Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
You Gave Me A Mountain
Little Sister
Fairytale
And I Love You So
Jailhouse Rock
Hound Dog
Hawaiian Wedding Song
Bridge Over Troubled Water (June 26)
I Can't Stop Loving You (June 26)
Release Me (June 26)
I Really Don't Want To Know
Hurt
My Way
Love Me Tender
Help Me
Blue Suede Shoes (June 23)
How Great Thou Art
It's Now Or Never
Early Morning Rain
Unchained Melody
Can't Help Falling In Love
 
 
 


Source:
The Concert Years by Stein Erik Skar
The Final Years by Jerry Hopkins
A Life In Music by Ernst Jorgensen
Careless Love by Peter Guralnick
Day By Day by Ernst Jorgensen and Peter Guralnick
The Ultimate Elvis by Patricia Jobe Pierce
and finally, most important - several bootlegs from 1977


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