50 Years Ago Elvis Made His Epic Comeback
After an 8 plus year layoff from performing live, Elvis Presley made his on stage comeback on July 31st, 1969. As history tends to forget, the 60s were not a good time for the King. After completing his time in the US Army, Elvis was floundering a bit. His movies weren't as big as they used to be. His records were either barely charting or not charting at all. Things were not good. While his '68 Comeback Special on TV was a massive success, everything else pretty much sucked.
When Elvis (at the behest of Col. Parker) decided he needed to return to the stage, he booked a four week engagement at the then new International Hotel in Las Vegas. There was a lot of trepidation leading up to the performance because nobody knew what they were going to get. Were they going get the King that made millions of people tune into NBC for his Televised special or were they going to get a man that was well past his prime?
Well, as history shows, the gamble to return for an epic Vegas show paid off. After being force fed music that he disliked for years, Elvis picked tunes he liked and hand selected a band he knew could bring it. That band, of course, was headed up by Shreveport native and one of the greatest guitar players of all time, James Burton.
Elvis went deep into his catalog of hits....playing stuff he hadn't done since the 50s, he played Chuck Berry covers, he played Ray Charles songs...for the first two years of his comeback, Elvis was a house of fire! In fact, the mental image of Elvis in a white jumpsuit comes from this period.
Personally, I've always been partial to early 50s, Sun Records Elvis. But, Elvis in 1969 was a force to reckoned with and may be the hardest rocking Elvis of all time.