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Home > Newspaper Articles > 1976 > November 25, 1976. Eugene, OR.
CONCERT DATE: November 25, 1976. Eugene, OR.
Elvis in form: Good, bad, ungodly
by Fred Crafts
November 26, 1976
"People are absolutely nuts about him," said a shivering vendor hawking Elvis Presley Super-Souvenir Programs in front of McArthur Court Thursday night.
"They can't get enough of The King."
The sidewalk merchant was being mobbed by some of the 10,000 people who jammed the University of Oregon's basketball pavilion to hear America's greatest pop idol and maybe carry away a snapshot, a $3 program or even one of his scarves or kisses.
It was an evening to remember, all of it - the good, the bad and the ungodly.
Presley alone among pop stars can generate the kind of electricity from such a wide range of followers as were present in McArthur Court Thursday night. All seemed to come away convinced the 41 years old singer is still the same prancing, prowling, leering sex machine he was when he revolutionized music 30 years ago, even though he's packaged a little slicker now (and is a little thicker around the middle)
Presley, dazzling ina while jump suit plastered with rhinestones and draped with blue rainbows, is still the great original, a universal hero, a symbol. That's reassuring, especially to those Children of the Fifties who believe that Presley is where pop begins and ends.
In short, Presley is a living legend - and everything he does preserves and maybe even enhances that legend. He is a spectacular performer and his fans scream their approval.
Yet, Presley remains an enigma creating a reputation as a mystery man much like the late Howard Hughes.
He slipped into Eugene from Reno, Nev, on his private Convair 880 jetliner at about 1 am. Thursday was whisked in a rented limousine to his top floor quarters at the Valley River Inn and went to bed soon afterwards.
Thanksgiving Day, his aides say, was spent resting, talking with people in the 80-member touring comany and watching football on television. While others were dining on turkey and pumpkin pie. Presley was downing a hamburger with mashed potatoes and gravy.
Security around him is so tight that a bellboy delivered the meal in one room only to have a bodyguard carry the food to a secret room where Presley was staying. Presley's arrival for the concert was also a cloak and dagger act that saw him spirited to and from the concert scene in a limousine full of bodyguards
No one is saying precisely what Presley will be doing the remainder of his stay in Eugene, although it is known he will fly to Portland in time for a concert tonight, perhaps spend the night there, then return to Eugene for a second sold-out performance Saturday.
Thursday night's concert began precisely at 8:30 pm with JD Sumner and the Stamps, comedian Jack Kahane and soul singers. The Sweet Inspirations entertaining for 45 minutes. Although the opening acts were smooth and fast paced, the audience had clearly come for Elvis. but they had to wait through a 35-minute intermission ( and long lines in the rest-rooms) first.
The break also gave the vendors another crack at selling Elvis t-shirts ($5 each), buttons ($2 and $3), pictures ($1-$3) and huge posters ($5). The merchandise, sold as money-raising project by the U of O Swim Team, was being snapped up like it was free (the university's athletic department is cosponsoring Presley's Eugene concerts).
The intermission also gave a number of people a chance to complain about spending $10 or #12.50 each for a ticket, about having their view blocked by a huge speakers (U of O Asst. Athletic Director Mike Brundage promises the speakers will be elevated by Saturday) or about getting lousy seats in the balcony behind the stage, from where the music sounded like it was being filtered through the wall from the next apartment.
All that was forgotten the moment Presley strolled into view. He was greeted by a thunderous ovation and an explosion of thousands of flashbulbs going off which, from a perch behind the stage, was like staring into a blinding fireworks display.
Presley grinning lopsidedly (met by shrieks) struck a pose with his legs spread apart (louder shrieks), wiggled his left leg (screams) and launched into "C.C. Rider," (pandemonium). The audience was in the palm of his hand for the remaining hour and 29 minutes he was on stage
Showing a flash of nasty little boy that shaped the history of rock and roll, Presley was in splendid voice. He prowled and leered as if no time had passed and it was 1956 and the whole Elvis Madness was starting all over.
By unofficial count, he sang parts or all of 23 hit songs backed by a 20-piece orchestra and an 11-voice chorus. He told jokes, wiggled his pelvis and turned so everyone could see him, including those behind him
Throughout the evening, Presley would slowly remove a white scarf draped around his neck and fling it to an anxious girl in the audience ( a couple were snagged by men and one by a Eugene policeman), only to have another scarf quickly placed around his neck by a sidekick who trailed him with an armful of scarves to scrambling fans during seven of his songs.
A shoddy trick like that would get most performers a round of boos, but Presley has a way of mesmerizing an audience. To them, everything he does is just fine. Even that.
Courtesy of Francesc Lopez