Since the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was established, it has made an impressive footprint on the livestock and entertainment industries and in the sport of rodeo. It also has played a notable role in enhancing the lives of thousands of young people in the state of Texas.
Elvis Presley Booked At Astrodome
Memphis, Tenn. (AP) ─ Entertainer Elvis Presley has been booked into the Astrodome, Houston for a run of apppearances from Feb. 27-March 1, a Memphis newspaper reported today. The Memphis Commercial Appeal, in an article by reporter Jim Kingsley, said Presley will make the Texas appearance after a return engagement of four weeks at a Las Vegas hotel. Kingsley, a triend of Presley, said the entertainer will be paid $750,000 for the Las Vegas run that starts Jan. 26.
The Astrodome seating will be arranged to accommodate up to 72.000 persons nightly and Presley's appearances will be in connection with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Presley is to be paid a $100,000 guarantee against a percentage of the gate, the report said.
The Houston Astrodome was chosen by Colonel Parker to be the first venue for Elvis to perform outside Las Vegas. This was done for several reasons, but none of them was because the place was suitable for a show of the kind Elvis held. "The Dome" was an enormous hall, built in 1965, the least of its functions being for concerts. Parker was possibly unsure of Elvis' status in the wider world ─ performing in Las Vegas was something quite different from performing in venues which could seat far larger audiences. The rodeo show at "The Dome" always attracted thousands of people no matter what. After the concluding show Elvis held a press conference for about 100 journalists at Astroworld.
He declared that he got a big thrill out of the appearance in "The Dome."
Elvis checked out of Astroworld wearing a blue Easy Rider-inspired suede jacket and black trousers, taking with him 20 suitcases and 3 guitars ─ $1.2 million richer than 3 days earlier.
Houston, Texas. February 25, 1970 at a brief press conference at the Astroworld
The Tampa Times. Tuesday, March 03, 1970.
Presley attracts Astrodome crowd
Los Angeles Times Special
HOUSTON ─ Between the chuckwagon races and calf roping contest, Elvis Presley returned "home" over the weekend in a set of six shows at the Astrodome.
Appearing at matinee and evening performances of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Presley proved once again his enormous box-office appeal.
SINCE HE was appearing as part of a rodeo package, precise assessment of his popularity is difficult. However, comparisons with past rodeo attendance figures gives some indication of the Presley lure. He (and the rodeo) drew 16,708 for a Friday matinee. It was the first time the rodeo held a weekday matinee. Friday evening's show drew 36,299 as compared to a 1968-69 average of 26,751. Similarly, Saturday's matinee beat the two-year average, 34,443 to 20,497. Saturday night, Presley drew 43,614 to set a world record for an indoor rodeo performance. The 1968-69 Houston average was 33,737.
BUT THE Astrodome concerts represented for Presley and the pop music world generally more than a test of popularity. They represented a return to the grass roots for rock's pioneer performer. In his Las Vegas appearances last August and January, Presley was returned to the concert stage after a decade's absence. But it was a return before an older, specialized audience. The audience in Las Vegas was lured by the Presley name and the fact that it was "the" show to see. At the Astrodome, Presley was appearing before a general audience for the first time. It was his first chance to see that audience's reaction.
ACTUALLY, the Friday matinee was little more than a rehearsal. He seemed nervous and several problems developed. As on all shows with the rodeo, Presley appeared about two-thirds of the way through the program. When he stepped on the stage there was a burst of applause. When he started "All Shook Up," there was both screaming and applauding. Through 14 songs the problems included a tightness in Presley's voice that seemed to make him unable to reach the lowest notes on "Heartbreak Hotel" and on "Hound Dog." Other problems included the placement of the bank on the stage which blocked him from about a third of the audience most of the time and the large distance between the stage and the first rows of seats.
BUT IT was all made worthwhile by the audience response. It was a young audience, mostly under 35 with lots of teen-agers and pre-teens. As in Las Vegas, Presley was backed by the Sweet Inspirations, the Imperials and six country-rock musicians. There was no orchestra. After 40 minutes Presley left the stage, causing hundreds to swarm down the aisles to be near him. On Friday evening the setting was improved. The famous Astrodome scoreboard lighted up with a picture of Presley, a "Welcome to Houston" message and a giant Elvis. Flashbulbs popped continuously, adding to the drama of the moment. During the evening show, Presley's voice was stronger, the stage rotation smoother and the pace sharper than at the matinee. "Thank you so much, you are really a fantastic audience," he said at the end of the show and it was obvious that he meant it.
AS IN VEGAS, he was masterful. His voice remained the best in rock-pop music and his stage movements, less self-conscious than last summer in the Nevada city, were in perfect harmony with the music. After a decade's absence, Presley had passed two enormous challenges ─ Las Vegas and the Astrodome ─ with convincing ease. The only, question when he left the stage Saturday was what's next. Col. Tom Parker, Presley's manager, who was watching every show from the same spot under the announcer's booth, was probably already at work on the answer.
The Ottawa Citizen. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Saturday, 02 May 1970.
Presley crown shining again
By Robert Hilburn. Times-Post News Service
Though he never lost the title of king, it was an empty crown that Elvis Presley wore during much of the 1960s. While it is hard to have ever thought of Presley in need of a comeback, it was precisely the situation in wich he found himself in a few months ago. Despite his unparalleled success of the late 1950s and early 1960s (more than 250 million records sold and more than 30 movies), Presley's sales slowed to a trickle and his films became embarrassingly dull.
Unbelievably, Presley, who had been the most important musical influence of his generation, was only a memory to many of his strongest fans during much of the 1960s. For those who were excited by his early recordings, Presley would always be special, but it seemed that he would be tucked neatly and permanently into the past. Between 1961 and 1968, Presley had only two records (Crying In The Chapel and Return To Sender) among the top 25 sellers of any year. He did have several best-selling soundtrack albums but they are a specialized market with little impact on the musical world.
But the Presley status has changed faster and more convincingly than anyone thought possible. In the past 14 months, Presley has shattered every attendance record in Las Vegas, attracted more than 200,000 persons for six shows at the Houston Astrodome, had three one-million dollar single records, three one-million dollar albums, was featured in one of the season's highest rated television specials and named top single record artist of the year by Cash Box Magazine. It is one of the most staggering reversals in the history of pop music. Presley now stands as the U.S.'s top concert attraction and leading male singer on record. The crown is shining again.
To understand the Presley phenomenon, certain basic facts must be remembered. First, Presley has unquestioned talent as a singer-performer and he has enormous charisma. Second, his career has been handled brilliantly by Col. Tom Parker, a proven manager before he ever met Presley. He has managed Presley with an honesty and dedication that is unique in the entertainment field. The results have been equally unique. Third, Presley is a symbol to his generation as strong as the Beatles are to theirs. He was a spokesman, without ever venturing into politics or lectures, for an age that wanted to express itself. A large segment of his early fans feel a special bond with Presley that transcends music. Each of these factors has played an important role in the development of Presley, from his initial rise to his recent resurgence.
Concentration on movies in the late 50s and early '60s led to a decline in Presley's force as a record artist. In time, the movies lost much of their box-office appeal. The crown was beginning to tarnish. It was getting harder and harder to perform to a movie camera, Presley said in Las Vegas. The inspiration wasn't there. He obviously wanted to return to live audiences.
Though one can only speculate on the reasons for the timing of the shift back to records and concerts, the musical rebirth of Presley can be traced to his recordings in 1968 of two Jerry Reed songs, Guitar Man and U.S. Male. The songs were only mild hits, but again old Presley fans knew something was happening. The beat and vocal on both records seemed to come from Nashville and Memphis rather than Hollywood. The next significant step in the comeback, of course, were the four-week engagements last August and January at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. The engagements were successful beyond all expectations. Not only did Presley play to capacity every night, the praise from the critics was universally enthusiastic.
But the Las Vegas audience was not really a Presley audience. It was largely an older generation, attracted by the Presley name and the fact it was the show to see. Thus the Houston Astrodome appearances in February and March took on additional significance. It would be the first time Presley appeared before a general audience in nearly a decade. For anyone at the Astrodome, the result was never in doubt Presley's appearance as part of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, an annual event in Houston that is so much part of the civic life that schools close one day so that youngsters can attend, was a total triumph.
Dick Weekley, the affable rodeo general manager, said the response was beyond anything in the 38-year history of the event. Presley's appearance was the centre of conversation. He's just a person, one exasperated husband, about 30, told his wife, who was about the same age. Yeah, she said. But what a person.
Houston Astrodome March 1, 1970 Elvis received five new gold discs by RCA's Vice-President Rocco Ginestra.
After the final show there was a press conference at which Elvis was presented with gold records for 5 of his 1969 releases. "In the Ghetto," "Suspicious Minds" and "Don't Cry Daddy," and albums "From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas to Memphis" and "From Elvis in Memphis." Elvis also received several gifts, including a Stetson hat, a limited-edition Rolex watch and a gold deputy's badge. At the Sunday afternoon press conference Elvis said he hadn't seen anything of Houston outside his hotel suite and the Astrodome. Elvis went on to tell reporters "I got a big thrill out of this appearance, I loved it. I know I'm signed to do the International Hotel in Las Vegas again, but nothing has been said about other personal appearances. I'd like to do them." Louis Pearce, Buddy Bray and Dick Weekley, on behalf of the shows officers, presented him with a 'King Midas' Rolex watch valued at $2,500. The officers had presented one to Pearce when he turned over the presidential reins last year and Elvis admired it when when the group went to Las Vegas to make the deal for his coming here. Elvis laughed 'I wasn't hinting'. There are very few of these in the world and Elvis' is No. 343 to be made in the entire world. Elvis and the Colonel were also presented plaques naming them life members of the show.