The King is dead, long live the king. In fact Elvis died professionally in the 1960s, but made a spectacular come back in a 1968 with a global broadcast that brought him back in time for the 1970s. Elvis Arron Presley was born in 1935 and had sold countless millions of records pre 1970. Six bestselling albums, and numerous single hits in the 1970s and a fantastic career as a Las Vegas showroom with huge sell out concerts. Elvis was back.
The Wonder Of You was the very first proper UK hit for 1970, which was written by Baker Knight back in 1959. Elvis sang his version live in Las Vegas in February 1970, and that is the version that is heard on the single.
Later in March Elvis had a hit with Don’tCry Daddy written by Scott Davis in 1969. The song was about a man who lost his wife and his sadness for him and his kids. Later this year he would perform in-front of President Nixon. Around this time of the big stage cabarets Elvis was getting constant death threats. One threat was taken so seriously that the FBI had to get involved. In fact the threat was so real Elvis was performing the shows on stage with a gun in his costume. Nothing happened and nobody was arrested.
Also in 1971 he charted with Rags to Riches.
Also in 1971 he charted with Rags to Riches.
Whilst with Nixon, Elvis made derogatory comments about the Beatles and their drug use. Paul McCartney was not impressed and when Elvis was found taking drugs must have thought who is calling who what here?
Elvis had so many awards in his 70s career, including in 1971 being voted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as one of the Most Outstanding Young Men of the Nation. Surprisingly for a man in his forties. He had a UK hit this year with I've Lost You along with You Don't Have To Say You Love Me.
Elvis had been a big film star in the 1960s. So in the 70s he became a film star again, but this time it was in the form of musical documentaries that saw raw footage of Elvis behind the scenes, and of course that would all be interlaced with great music too. Elvis On Tour from 1972 was one such film that in itself won the Golden Globe Award and had a UK hit with I Just Can't Help Believing.
Elvis was touring the big venues, including Madison Square Gardens. He was releasing singles and albums at the same time; he also won a Grammy for a gospel album called He Touched Me. The professional Elvis was doing very well, the Elvis at home was not doing so good, as his marriage to Priscilla was now in name only, and he was having affairs with other women.
In 1973 Elvis did a live global broadcast from Hawaii and went out to over one and a half billion people. Elvis did the concert for a charity. The album of the concert went to No.1 straight away with sales of five million. That year Elvis did over 150 concerts, got his divorce from Priscilla and started taking pain killing drugs and went into hospital a few times. He was burning out his life to fast.
By 1974 Elvis was performing on stage with the drugs affecting his performance and his speech.
Here are just some of the single hits from Elvis during the 1970s. Burning Love was written by Dennis Linde and was not written for Elvis. My Boy, Always On My Mind and the single Promised Land came from the album called Promised Land. Promised Land was written by 50s rocker Chuck Berry and released by him in 1965. Always On My Mind was originally a hit by Brenda Lee a few years before.
My Way the Elvis version charted twice in the 1970s, and was written for Frank Sinatra by Paul Anka. The Elvis version is a much more powerful version. Suspicious Minds entered the charts twice too, the last being in 1977 a few months before his death. This was followed by a great 70s single called Moody Blue which was recorded in a studio in Graceland, and was written by the same person who wrote Suspicious Minds. He was Mark James.
Elvis had twelve billboard top twenty hits during the 1970s, and the albums produced are so hard to count. But it went into dozens. The whole world was producing different compilations. Some high quality some low quality like the Pickwick collections. In 1976 he had a hit called Hurt.
By 1977 Elvis was fat. He was on drugs and in pain. He started cutting the length of time he was on stage and cancelled concerts. His speech was becoming very slurred. He had enlarged liver and colon problems.
Elvis was going downhill fast and in August 1977 Elvis slumped on to his bathroom floor and a few hours later was pronounced dead. For those of us in the UK was watching ITN News At Ten where the newscaster announced that Elvis was dead it was a huge shock. There was no 24 hour news stations then, and most people tuned in to Tony Prince on 208 Radio Luxembourg who played Elvis hits for the hours after. It was a “where were you” event for sure.
Elvis had a single in the charts at the time of his death called Way Down written by Layng Martine Jr. The song ends with such a low note that it appeared in the Guinness Book of Records. The songs from Elvis filled up the 70s charts, from brand new material to classics from his back catalogue. Thirty years later Elvis would be No. 1 again. Elvis had more single hits in the Billboard charts than any other performer ever. Elvis had SEVEN No.1 albums in 1977. In the UK alone in his whole career Elvis had over TWENTY No.1s, with making the top of the charts after he died.
Thanks to TV and his films and the never ending sound of Elvis coming from your music collection and the radio, it is unlikely that Elvis will ever lose his appeal. In 2012 a hologram of Elvis will be used for a concert show. If that works well, there will be generations and generations of new admirers who will follow the King. Long live the King. Amazing.