Florida Today. Thursday, March 9, 1972.
Presley Going on the Road
NEW YORK (AP) ─ Elvis Presley, whose two weeks of concerts last October sold out every night, will do another two-week tour in April, the 5th through 19th, his record company, RCA, announced Presley will sing in Buffalo, N.Y., Detroit, Knoxville, Tenn., Hampton Roads, Richmond and Roanoke, Va., Indianapolis, Ind., Charlotte and Greensboro, N.C. Macon, Ga. Jacksonville, Fl., Little Rock, Ark., San Antonio, Tex., and Albuquerque, N.M.
The Orlando Sentinel. Thursday, March 9, 1972.
33rd Elvis Presley Film Coming
HOLLYWOOD ─ This should send Elvis Presley fans into quivers of delight. Though MGM isn't acknowledging it yet, I get the inside word that plans are quietly underway at that studio for Elvis' next big-screen offering. It will be a documentary similar to the Elvis "That's The Way It Is" project film several years ago In Las Vegas. Cameras will follow the idol on his April 5 tour of one-nighters to Buffalo, Detroit, Indianapolis, Albuquerque and a string of southern hamlets where the Presley fever is always at peak point. The venture will mark Elvis's 33rd film, his 14th for Metro. And, actually, if the performer had his say, he'd probably pass on this one and hold out for the heavy dramatic role he's been hankering to do.
BUT ELVIS doesn't have much to say about the matter. As long as he's got Col. Tom Parker as manager, he'll keep heading where the money is. "That's The Way It Is," might not have brought him the critical plaudits he's yearning for, but it proved to be one of Metro's all-time high grossers. And that's the way it's going to keep on going for the star. His fans can even expect cagey old Colonel Tom to take advantage of his carnival past on this upcoming tour, hustling Elvis albums and plush hound dog toys to the crowds. Parker even gets away with such sales gimmicks when his boy plays the sophisticated Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas. And you'd be amazed how much extra loot they put in the till.
Elvis on Tour
Elvis on Tour is an American musical documentary film released by MGM in 1972. It was the thirty-third and final motion picture to star Elvis Presley before his death in 1977.
A follow-up to the 1970 release Elvis: That's the Way it Is, another musical documentary, this film followed Presley as he embarked on a 15-city tour of the United States that featured 19 concerts between April 5th and April 19th, 1972. Elvis on Tour also contains vintage footage of Presley's famous 1956 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and pre-tour rehearsal footage. It also includes footage of enthusiastic fan reactions scattered throughout the film.
Also included are portions of a forty-minute interview that Presley gave about his life and career before filming began. Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, was unhappy with the inclusion of a scene which mocked Presley's acting career by showing screen kisses taken from a number of his previous films. According to the producers, it was a tongue-in-cheek dig at the repetitiveness of these films by changing the background "but the plot stays the same."
Among those working on this film were Martin Scorsese, who supervised montage sequences, and David Draper a former Mr. Universe. The film was directed by Pierre Adidge and Robert Abel.
Although Presley would be offered numerous film roles over the next few years (most notably the 1976 remake of A Star Is Born), he would make no more films in his lifetime. Footage from Elvis on Tour would later be reused in the 1981 Elvis documentary This Is Elvis.
"My daddy had seen a lot of people who played guitars and stuff and didn't work. So he told me, you should make up your mind about either playing guitar or being an electrician. I never saw a guitar player that was worth a damn." ─ Elvis Presley, opening lines of Elvis On Tour.
Songs featured in the film
The working titles of the film were Sold Out and then Standing Room Only, and a soundtrack album was planned with this title, but never released. As the album Elvis: As Recorded at Madison Square Garden featured many of the songs set to be in the film and was released prior to the film, Elvis on Tour was the only Presley film not accompanied by some form of official soundtrack release, either in the form of a full album or a single.
All of the following songs were performed by Elvis onstage unless otherwise noted:
"Johnny B. Goode" (A rehearsal recording by Elvis played over the opening credits. The DVD/Blu-ray release replaced this with a live recording of "Don't Be Cruel", but the digital copy of the film keeps it in.)
According to fans who have already got a copy of the new DVD of 'On Tour', the sensational opening video sequence where Elvis sings 'Johnny B. Goode' has been retained BUT the song 'Johnny B. Goode' has been removed and replaced with 'Teddy Bear'/'Don't Be Cruel' due to copyright problems. The same 'Teddy Bear'/'Don't Be Cruel' is heard later in the movie.
It seem incredible that after 38 years the 'On Tour' re-release is still not the real deal.
"Also sprach Zarathustra"
(Performed by The Joe Guercio Orchestra but was not used in the film due to copyright issues. However, an unknown vamp in a similar arrangement was used in its place.)
"See See Rider"
"Polk Salad Annie"
"Separate Ways" (An unreleased studio take.)
"Never Been to Spain"
"For The Good Times" (Sung informally by Elvis in a car as he was leaving a concert.)
"Don't Be Cruel" (Performed on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956.)
"Ready Teddy" (Performed on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956.)
"That's All Right" (Original Sun recording played over a slideshow of photos from Elvis' early career.)
"The Lighthouse" (Performed by J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet during an informal gospel music jam session.)
"Lead Me, Guide Me" (Performed by Elvis, J.D. Sumner, and the Stamps Quartet during an informal gospel music jam session.)
"Bosom Of Abraham" (Performed by Elvis, J.D. Sumner, and the Stamps Quartet during an informal gospel music jam session.)
"Love Me Tender"
"I, John" (Sung informally by Elvis, J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, and the Sweet Inspirations during a rehearsal.)
"Bridge Over Troubled Water"
"Funny How Time Slips Away"
"An American Trilogy"
"Mystery Train" (Original Sun recording played over scenes of the various cities in the tour.)
"I Got A Woman"/"Amen"
"A Big Hunk O' Love"
"You Gave Me a Mountain"
"Sweet, Sweet Spirit" (Performed onstage by J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet)
"Lawdy, Miss Clawdy"
"Can't Help Falling In Love"
Closing Vamp (Performed by the TCB Band and the Joe Guercio Orchestra.)
"Memories" (Original studio recording played over the closing credits.)
This list does not include snippets of songs sung informally, such as "Rainy Night in Georgia".
"Memories" had previously been featured on the soundtrack of the TV special Singer Presents . . . Elvis in 1968 and released on both the soundtrack album for the special and a single.
Concerts filmed for Elvis on Tour
The Coliseum, Hampton Roads, Virginia, April 9, 1972 Evening Show
The Coliseum, Richmond, Virginia, April 10, 1972
The Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina, April 14, 1972 Evening Show
Convention Center, San Antonio, Texas, April 18, 1972
Other cities in the tour that were filmed on location (but not at the concerts) included Roanoke, Virginia; Knoxville, Tennessee and Dayton, Ohio.
Scorsese gave life to Elvis On Tour
Scorsese, of course, would later build an impressive reputation as a Hollywood director, but in 1972 his creative use of the split-screen format in Elvis On Tour breathed life into a film that otherwise might have been pretty dreary. In addition to showing the star on stage from several viewpoints, the montage approach keeps the viewer’s eye moving back-and-forth from the star to the musicians to the concert audience and elsewhere as the screen splits into two, three, and sometimes four panels.
In one memorable montage, Elvis, in three different-colored jump suits, is shown taking the stage in three different cities. The scene spotlights Presley’s co-star if the film—his flashy attire. Variety noted that Elvis’s stage costumes fit his super-power persona.
“Bill Belew’s wardrobe for Presley’s on-stage concert appearances make the star resemble Captain Marvel, which isn’t far off the mark considering what Presley has accomplished in an 18-year period of worldwide fame. The musicianship is updated of course, but the adroit insertion of some old Ed Sullivan guestint footage places the early days in complementing, not contrasting context.”
While I agree with Murf that the inserted Sullivan footage provides a suitable connection with Presley’s past, for me it establishes a clear contrast between the young rocker of the fifties and his glittery re-embodiment in the early seventies. Elvis’s sheer joy and energy on Sullivan’s stage, supported as he was by a mere handful of musicians and singers, is in clear contrast with the 37-year-old icon, an army of backup musicians both behind and in front of him, struggling mightily to conjure up the fire of his youth. Perhaps the contrast seems greater now than it did when the film first appeared. When viewing Elvis On Tour today, the viewer is armed with the knowledge of Presley’s subsequent physical decline over the following few years. We didn’t know it was coming in 1972.
Although Variety predicted success for Elvis On Tour, the film performed only moderately at the box office. It reached no higher than #13 on Variety’s weekly list of top-grossing films. During its first weekend of release, it played in 187 theaters in 105 cities, grossing about $500,000.
Canby in The New York Times called film a “storybook myth”
The film’s debut in the country’s largest city, however, was delayed seven months, not opening in New York until June 6, 1973. The next day Vincent Canby reviewed Elvis On Tour in The New York Times. In contrast to Variety’s positive review, Canby focused on the film’s shortcomings. Its Achilles’ heel, he judged, was the star himself. “A natural spin-off of the rock concert tour is the rock concert tour film,” noted Canby. “Pierre Adidge and Robert Abel are such experienced hands that I suspect they were inhibited by the magnitude of their latest subject, Elvis Presley. Or perhaps—dare I say?—his minitude.”
In Canby’s view, Elvis On Tour did not live up to its billing as an “intimate portrait” of Elvis. “The camera never catches him in a truly candid moment,” Canby explains. “Close-ups do not reveal anything but, rather, they enshrine an ideal.”
The Times review further argues that Elvis reveals little about himself “while getting on and off airplanes, on and off buses, and in and out of limousines. Strip away the storybook myth and—lo—there is a storybook myth underneath; a nice, clean-cut, multimillionaire pop idol who is, offstage, hard-working and friendly and something less than a riveting personality. The essential blandness of the offstage Elvis has the effect of diminishing the impact of what we see of the onstage performances.”
Elvis On Tour marked beginning of the end for Elvis
Even for this Elvis fan, it’s difficult to refute Canby’s premise. Elvis On Tour was fashioned to perpetuate the Presley fairytale that his fans had come to believe. No doubt Elvis and Colonel Parker insisted that the film’s producers not disturb the myth. We know now that in Elvis’s personal life the forces of self-destruction were already at work. Ironically, two members of Elvis’s inner circle, Red West and Sonny West, whose book would eventually expose their boss’s dark side, are seen often in Elvis On Tour.
Watching Elvis On Tour today is a conflicting experience. On one hand there is the pleasure of seeing the star near the top of his game. But it would be the last such experience most of us would ever have. Seeing him on the screen, it’s hard to believe that Elvis Presley would be dead just five short years later. Elvis On Tour was immensely gratifying when I first saw it in 1972. However, whenever I’ve watched it during the years since then, I can’t help but see in it the beginning of the end for Elvis Presley.
— Alan Hanson
The Atlanta Constitution. Sunday, March 19, 1972.
WORKING CLASS HEROES - Tom Vs. Elvis: It’s Presley Country
By HOWELL RAINES
In the press conference that preceded his Atlanta concert, Tom Jones was dull as dirt. His conversation was minimal and one did not leave with the impression of having been in the presence of one of show business's towering intellects. Jones gets paid, however, for neither talking nor thinking. He gets paid (he declines to say how much a year) for singing and gyrating and the Welshman is admirably frank in admitting that several American singers, both black and white, have influenced his vocal and choreographic styles. Among those singers Jones acknowledged in his Monday press conference was his most obvious forerunner in the pelvic school of song delivery: Mr. Elvis Presley.
There are, of course, many similarities between the two, not the least of which is the galvanizing effect both have on certain segments of their audiences. The assumption that the two singers attract the same audience does not hold up, however, if one may judge by Jones' Atlanta audience and that attracted by Presley in his last Deep South appearance, a November concert in Tuscaloosa, Ala. While Jones' hard core audience is made up of everyday housewife types ranging from the early 20s to early 40s, Presley's appeal seems to cut across sex and age categories. The Tuscaloosa audience had everything from teenyboppers to staid couples in their 50s. Most surprising of all was Presley's popularity with the men.
I RECALL a middle-aged man with the look of a small town deacon: hair trimmed well off the ears, nondescript suit and fatherly mien. But when Presley burst on stage in his suit of lights, a remarkable transformation took place. Sidney Straight, to the considerable chagrin of his portly wife and adolescent son, jumped to his feet and began bellowing, "The Tupelo Flash" and "Elvis the Presley" and "Get it, Elvis, get it." If Jones' audience is less representative, his devoted fans are certainly no less frantic (although the general audience in Atlanta was surprisingly subdued). There was, for instance, the blonde who jumped to her feet and shouted a heart-felt "Thank you for coming to Atlanta," then passed the balance of the performance uttering what, at the risk of indelicacy, can only be described as the sounds of sexual transport. She was not alone in this by any means. During the more suggestive songs or when Jones broke into a particularly abandoned bump and grind, the atmosphere among the faithful in the front row seats got downright orgiastic. Jones caters to this reaction. His on stage dialogue is replete with double entendres and he teases the shouters by hinting that he will see them after the show.
PRESLEY, WHILE he will fling the occasional blue line, seems to favor the technique of dropping one of his perspiration-soaked scarves among the ringside ladies and smiling indulgently while they fight over it. Both singers lean heavily on ballads which cast the singer in the role of jilted lover (Elvis: "Honey, you lied when you said you loved me . . ."), a notion which drives the faithful wild with disbelief. There are also, it strikes me, similarities in the two singers' styles of operation, a style we might call that of the working class hero. Presley arose from the gut of Southern WASPdom, laboring so the story goes as a gospel singer and beer hall guitar picker until "Heartbreak Hotel" and what followed enabled him to buy that house he'd been promising Mama, etc., etc. . . Jones is the son of a Welsh coal miner, worked as a hod carrier while singing in the tough clubs and now supports his parents in the style befitting their station as progenitors of a star.
THE WORKING class hero life style demands that ties to one's roots be preserved at the same time that one takes on certain of the snobbish attributes of the super-rich. In short, the working class hero enacts that dream of wealth entertained by the service station attendants and construction workers of the world. For one thing, loyalty to old friends is valued. Presley's retinue of Memphis friends is, like so much about him, the stuff of legend. Jones’ bodyguard is a great hulk of a lad introduced as a "school chum," and his key musicians are fellows from Cardiff and such places. In taste, the working class hero remains resolutely low brow: Jones showing us the split in the inseam of his trousers; Presley lousing up his song lyrics with petty vulgarities ("Your lips excite me; for God's sake don't bite me."). Yet, he is allowed to emulate the reclusiveness of the old aristocracy so that instances of his occasional mingling with the public are recounted with reverence. A lady at the Jones concert revealed that her friendship with the local promoter had gotten her access to Jones' tightly guarded dressing room last year. Of course, nothing happened to her there; it was the fact that she had broken through that she wished to emphasize. Similarly, there is the sportswriter who recounts the time when quite by accident he got invited inside Presley's Memphis, estate for a chat with Elvis. The occasional breach in his renowned security, then, adds immeasurably to aura of stardom by exciting the hope that the average fan may someday get to meet the star.
THE WORKING class hero syndrome may also explain why Presley is able to pull a much larger and broader audience in the South than Jones. He is, after all, on home ground, among the people who produced and elevated him. Jones was able to draw only 6,900 out of a possible 9,000 in the Atlanta Civic Center. Presley's rare concerts routinely sell-out wall-to-wall. He filled the 15,000 seat sports coliseum in the small town of Tuscaloosa. As of last Wednesday, only 600 of the 20,000 tickets remained for Presley's two Macon Coliseum concerts next month. Here in the South, Presley is a legend that touches virtually everyone. Those who were teenagers when he hit it big now have kids of their own who have grown up on talk of Presley. The parents of those contemporaries, in turn, see in Presley a reminder of the days when their own kids were young, an innocent time when a parent worried about the kids getting drunk rather than shooting up. Even when Presley was in the early days of his popularity it was fashionable to feign indifference to or even active dislike for him and his music. Yet none of us who were young with him we children of the chopped and channeled '55 Chevy, the non-pop top Budweiser and the all night drive-in are as superior to him as we might like to think or immune to the kind of mass nostalgia he now conveys.
Elvis occasionally 'popped in' on Tom Jones during a concert ─ here he's entering Tom Jones' stage at Ceasar's Palace, Las Vegas, NV. September '73. Elvis told Tom a story: "When your record 'Green, Green Grass of Home' was issued here, the boys and I were on the road driving in our mobile home. Man, that record meant so much to us boys from Memphis we just sat there and cried!" "Then we called the radio station and asked them to play it again ─ they did, four times! We just sat there and sobbed our hearts out" (New Musical Express, Elvis Presley and Tom Jones).
The Windsor Star. Friday, April 7, 1972.
Elvis rules like a prince
By JOHN LAYCOCK
They came 16,000 strong to see Elvis Presley Thursday night. They came in bleached blonde bouffants, stiffened with enough hair spray to freeze the Detroit River. They came in blue jeans and fatigues, or in sequins, or in Nashvilles finest satin duds, or England's hippest velvet. They came because they remembered Elvis from the school hops in 1957 ─ or because their parents remembered Elvis.
For there he was, the living legend, as big as ever. Maybe even bigger ─ Elvis has absorbed his own myth and now lives up to it. Every seat in the Olympia was long gone, of course. The souvenir-hawkers were hard at work; Col. Tom Parker, shrewd mastermind of the Presley phenomenon, never misses a bet (or a dollar ─ for once the music-business freebies had to pay full price for their tickets).
"The Sweet Inspirations sang a few passable Supremes-like numbers, Jackie Kahane told drab jokes. Mediocre warm-up acts make the star seem even better. And what a star. At 37 Elvis looks no older than 25. Karate exercises keep him trim; he slips the powerful movements into some of the songs. His thatch of dyed-black hair was mussed into a kiss-curl. This time his usual white jump-suit was tattooed with ruby sunbursts, including a superman cape. The orchestra ushered him in with the Space Odyssey theme. He smirked his greeting, picked up his guitar for the first and only time, and banged into C. C. Rider, hulking up to the mike, legs awry, back one twitching. The Pelvis! They screamed, and not just the kids; flash bulbs illuminated the hall like sheet lightning.
A dream walking! Yes, but the surprise is gone. Everyone knows that Presley is still dynamite on stage. He has become set in his ways; many of the songs not just his own hits, but things such as Polk Salad Annie and Johnny B. Goode he's been doing the same way since he returned to the stage in 1969. Two years ago his visit to Detroit was experimental; Presley was flexing his muscles to see if the old power could still be aroused on tour. It was an extraordinary moment when he dragged the crimson sash from the open-chested jump suit; this time it’s a carefully formatted move, with extra scarves on hand to throw to the crowd. This time he knew the flick of a scowl here, the toss of a wrist there, would sent the fans many of them now running to fat ─ jiggling on their chairs.
The music was set up the same too ─ a big brass section, mostly wasted because of poor amplification, behind the same band he’s used for several years. James Burton played lead guitar (he used to toss those tasty guitar licks into the Rick Nelson hits), but the real boss was Charlie Hodge, Presley’s GI buddy, who serves as duet partner, valet, and tender of the water Elvis sipped frequently. Again there was a chorus, including the Inspirations. He appeared to love the power. He kidded around constantly, laughing at the old hip-popping ways, but using them too. He sauntered carelessly, glowered into the mike held intimately to the fleshy lips, posing like the hood ornament of a 1953 automobile, wind-milling his loose arm above his head. And the excitement still worked. But at times he didn’t appear to take the songs any more seriously than himself. Not until he reached a series of oldies ─ Love Me, All Shook Up, Teddy Bear (with stuffed toys flying from the fans), Little Sister, even Hound Dog done partly at half-speed ─ did the songs start to shudder with the intensity he’s capable of. Bridge Over Troubled Water got the full-blown impassioned treatment; by this time, about half way, the peaked with a nice reading, from a sheet of music, of For the Good Times, and a spectacularly dramatic combination of Battle Hymn of the Republic and Dixie.
Then he was gone. No encore. He had done more than a dozen and a half songs, talking almost not at all. And he was exhilarating, a natural talent at play. Yet Presley’s best work has resulted from challenges. In the late 1950s he produced historic music by finding a new mixture of his churchgoing mothers gospel music, the blues of Memphis, and the twang of the Opry in Nashville. In the early 1960s he had the worry of whether he could come back after the army. He did, and by mid-60s was firmly settled in mediocre movies and records. When he returned to the risks of live performing he also tried more ambitious music (especially from Mack Davis ─ In the Ghetto, for instance). He reacted superbly to both challenges. Elvis hasn’t made a movie since the pseudo-documentary The Way It Is in 1970, and its only accomplishment was to ignore the colonel. His records have sunk into blank reworking’s of pop material. From being a recluse four years ago he has now come to be primarily a live performer. And he has it down cold.
Daily Press. Sunday, 09 April, 1972.
ROCK AND ROLL SUPERSTAR
Elvis Concerts Today
Elvis Presley, whose duck-tail haircut, pounding guitar and gyrating movements combined with a voice blending elements of rhythm and blues and country and western to create a distinctive personality that set the entertainment world on fire in the early 1950's will appear today at the Hampton Roads Coliseum. The brightest star of the rock and roll era, Presley, considered one of the most controversial, performers when he first burst upon the national scene singing "Hound Dog," "Don’t Be Cruel" and "Blue Suede Shoes," has become one of the all-time giants among the most elite group of show business super-stars, easily conquering records, movies, concert tours, television and night clubs. Elvis Presley today is calmer and smoother than those days when his star began rising to the top, but those millions of fans from the early days have remained loyal and, as Presley has become more polished and sophisticated, so have his fans.
Reports from other cities on his current tour indicate that the Presley magic is still as potent as ever. Although best known as a rock performer, his hits have run the gamut from the rousing "All Shook Up"' and "Jailhouse Rock" to ballads such as "Love Me Tender," the touching "Old Shep" and the recent "In The Ghetto," which gained him a whole new legion of fans who were in kindergarten when his earlier records were filling the airwaves. In 1967, he received a Grammy award for best sacred recording, and songs like "Peace In The Valley" have proven equally popular. While his films have not always received the highest critical acclaim, they've been extremely successful at the box office, and his portrayal of an Indian half-breed in "Flaming Star" is remembered as one of the most sensitive performances of the 1960s. His television specials, on the other hand, have always drawn high praise, and the professional quality of his night club act has made him one of the top-drawing performers in Las Vegas. His shows at 2:30 and 8:30. p.m. today may not resemble his last performance in Newport News, in 1955, when he played to throngs of screaming teenagers at the old James Theater just as his career was beginning, but among the audience will be many who remember that I day vividly.
No other performer, not Frank Sinatra, not Tom Jones, not Donny Osmond or even David Cassidy has created quite the pandemonium Elvis did during the years between the Korean War and the Vietnam war. He made national headlines the day he was drafted into the Army, and Life Magazine ran pictures of him as he took his induction physical and the day he returned to civilian life was almost a national holiday, as it coincided with his first new movie in two years, which just happened to be "GI Blues." It's not every day anyone gets a chance to watch a living legend in action, but today is one of those days.