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CONCERT DATE: February 20 1977 (8:30 pm). Charlotte NC.

Elvis Shows He's Still The King
by Steve Snow
The Charlotte News
February 21, 1977

They crowd the gates of their musical heaven, pulses demanding that fantasy become reality, that yesterday become today.

The gates open at 7 o'clock and Susie and Bucky Keziah of Hunters ville are first. They wait two hours. She is 20, he, 21; they barely had been when Elvis Presley sauntered onto Ed Sullivan's stage in 1956.

"Oh, yeahhhh," says she, "but oooohhh, that Elvis. He's so sexy."

Bucky shrugs, "I just like the music myself."

The crowd moves in to the barking call of the "super Elvis souvenir" hawkers selling programs for $3 and posters for as much as $5.

J.B. Norman is 60, retired after 35 years in Charlotte's water department. For 22 years his part-time job has been running coliseum concessions.

He has 2,000 posters to sell, he says, and $3,500 programs, "if it's good, we'll make about $30,000 for the two nights of Elvis concerts), he says. "The coliseum will get about $4,000 and $3,000 will go to the people doing the selling. The rest goes to Elvis."

"I love him," says Paulette Carrott of Denver. She and her sister-in-law Cherly, dicker with a hawker, not for a poster but for the Elvis T-shirt he's wearing "Ain't no way I'm selling it, honey," he laughs "I go with the shirt or the shirt don't go."

The Carroll women are young in their 20s but the crowd is all ages, from 5 to over 60.

Joe Hilton and the Hot Hilton brass play solidly. J. D Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, gospel singers keep the warm up pace going as does a Canadian comedian. The Sweet Inspiration rounds out the first half.

And then there's "entertainer" Bob Halley, age 37. The 13,000 at the coliseum know him as the guy who looks like Elvis, signs autographs like Elvis and poses for pictures like Elvis.

And they love it, "I been singing like him for 30 years," Halley says as he stands at his seat near the balcony while the faithful scream. Lines for for a closer look.

At 9:45 p.m. the loudspeaker calls for people to move quickly to their seats.

A roar comes from the crowd. Lights dim.

Another roar. Elvis emerges.

Intense roar becomes screaming thunder. Camera bulbs flash like flak in the Battle for Britain.

It doesn't matter that the highest part of Elvis' shimmering white outfit is his bulging waist.

He struts, shakes, grabs the microphone and "C.C. Rider" leads the way.

He smiles and they yell, he laughs at the yelling and they scream, he swings a leg to one side and they stretch their arms out to him.

The first of many women gets to him. Dressed like an Easter Bunny, she offers Elvis an Easter basket filled with fruit. What have we have here, honey bunny? he asks.

She gets a scarf - one of dozens will flip to the audience - but holds out for a kiss. Police force her back. Later, she says the basket's not all fruit, a bottle of Jack Daniels whisky is tucked inside.

Fans struggle to give Elvis their labors of love and adulation: cakes, dozen of roses, pillows, a three foot red teddy bear, a stuffed guitar shaped pillow.

But it's not all clowning; Elvis at times ignores outstretched arms and shows why he, at 42, thrives while others have become vaguely familiar names on old 45 rpm records.

"How Great Thou Art" a difficult songs because its range, he begins with ease, hilling "his people" with soft tenor and rich throaty baritone - and then comes the crash Elvis' "How Great" becomes gospel-soul, and Elvis shows himself still at the soul of gospel, driving, forcing, ripping the high notes and sensously mumbling the low notes.

Later he sings "I'm so Hurt", a 20 yeard old song he didn't record until recent years and the air drips with blood of a broken heartand the arena collectively seems to hold its breath, absorbing the pain Elvis floats

The sweat on his face glitters. His hair and long sideburns are wet. Five times during the performance he parades to different sections of the stage, passing out scarves, touches, kisses and smiles.

"Last Dance" becomes last song for the concert and Elvis makes a final walk along the stage and then dissapears.

Fans rush after him, running out of the coliseum as though it were on fire, but he is gone back to the Sheraton Center to rest for tonight's final concert.

He is expected to make more than $150,000 for the two performances here.

Courtesy of Scott Hayward