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Home > Newspaper Articles > 1974 > March 17, 1974 Memphis, TN. Midsouth Coliseum.
CONCERT DATE: March 17, 1974 Memphis, TN. Midsouth Coliseum.
He Came, They Saw, He Conquered Anew
by Jane Sanderson
March 18, 1974
It could well be the Coliseum in Rome in the ceremonious days of Julius Cesar.
Instead, it is our own Mid-South Coliseum, filled with a cheering throng welcoming an emperor of another sort - King of Rock Music Elvis Presley.
One wonders what Caesar and Presley could possibly have in common, and decides it must be a flair for flamboyant entrances. Where the Roman emperor brought forth wild cheering whenever putting his sandaled foot forward, Presley does the same by stepping into a spotlight. Both responses are products of strategic planning.
Blaring of trumpets, rolling of drums, beating of kettles, flashing of lights, and the ruler of rock arrives. Momentum propels to such heights that first glimpse of Presley sends the audience into a frenzy.
Like a streak of white lightning, Presley darts on stage. He is dramatically clad in all white which sparkles with jewels and nailheads with a jacket slit to the waist and a diamond cross hanging from his neck. He nods approval to the overwhelming hometown reception, and he begins to sing.
It's "Si, Si" something or other. Little matter. The crowd goes wild. They scream, yell, cry, clap and do their best to drown out what they came to hear. The King is amused, but he goes on. Cameras flash everywhere.
They push in clusters toward the stage and are pushed back by security guards. They stretch hands upward to catch scarves flung periodically toward front rows by their idol and they call his name in every key over and over.
Elvis laughs in the middle of songs, at himself and at the audience, but drops his head to gain repose. He rolls his eyes, jerks his head, thrusts his shoulder forward, points to pretty girls, slaps his guitar, and, of course shakes his hips. Screams get louder, and the audience in Presley's own musical terms, seems "All Shook Up."
He's a boomer," blurts out one small spectator who watches in awe as he throws the microphone and guitar around.
"Who's he singing to? asks an older fan who stretches for a glimpse of the almost hidden Linda Thompson, seated off-stage right with the singer's parents, the Vernon Presley. His love songs are all directed this way.
"That's his girlfriend," said another, who had inside information that the former Memphis beauty queen was attending all five Memphis performances. Linda was 1972 Miss Tennessee.
A richer, more mature baritone than in his "Poke Salad Annie" days pours through the amplifiers with strong backing of the JD Stamps Quartet, The Sweet Inspirations (Stax recording artists), Cathy Westmoreland "who sings high for us," says Elvis and a stageful of musicians, many playing electronic instruments.
"Teddy Bear," "Love Me Tender," and "Hound Dog" bring back memories, and then comes "She's My Baby" and squeals gush forth like water spilling over Niagara Falls.
"I'm A Steam Roller, Baby," he comes on strong, "a cement mixer, a demolition derby, yes, yes," and the yes, yesses echo back thousandfold.
"I've Gotta Woman," he reveals in song and audience answers come back, "I'm here, Elvis," and "It's me, It's me"
A new record release is tossed in, "Dirty Tricks," which Presley says he recorded in Memphis, and then the windup of the two-hour show (Elvis is on stage about an hour) comes in the form of a trilogy including "Dixie" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Then it's getaway time.
Parked inside the building at a back entrance is a black limousine motor running, lights on, doors open. A metal door shields it from outside spectators. Four motorcycle policemen have machines running, poised for the take-off.
First to exit, while Elvis still sings, is Linda Thompson, who says no marriage plans are being talked about. "We just like things the way they are," she says.
She enters another black limousine with Mrs. Vernon Presley and staffers. A third limousine is filled by other Presley officials. The metal door goes up.
Presley hits his last note, but the orchestra continues. A white flash jumps in to the back seat of the waiting limousine which rushes out the gate falling in line behind the motorcycle escort and moving fast away from fan-lined gates.
Most see only the back of his head from the rear window.
Undaunted in the wake of the singer's hasty, exit, one fan says she has seen three of the Memphis shows and watches him leave each time. another said he had driven from Missouri and couldn't find a ticket to buy, but took a picture of the car leaving.
Still another said she had been sitting so high she could only see a white speck on stage. "But when that speck began wiggling its leg. I knew it was Elvis," she said.
Courtesy of Francesc Lopez