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CONCERT DATE: February 12, 1977 Hollywood, FL.

Elvis Croons - 14,700 Get All Shook Up
by Carl Hiaasen and Al Messerschmidt
The Miami Herald
February 13, 1977

HOLLYWOOD - Elvis Presley shook his hips, curled his lips and took 14,700 shrieking fans back through 22 years of rock 'n' roll history Saturday night at the Hollywood Sportatorium.

Packed tightly into a white, sequined jump suit, the paunchy, 42-year-old Presley climbed on stage, slung a guitar over his shoulder and belted out "C.C. Ryder" as a galaxy of flashbulbs illuminated the huge auditorium and deafening screams overpowered the amplifiers.

Moving with fewer of his legendary gyrations, Presley abandoned his guitar, tossed the strap to a wildly lunging crowd and told them, "You sure look like a great audience, Ladies and Gentlemen.".

BUT AS FANS surged forward, screaming "Elvis, Elvis" waving banners and clutching Teddy Bears, some people were muscled out of their seats and dozens of fans stalked out the auditorium.

After leaving, Mike Cossman of Sunrise fumed, "I haven't even seen the guy yet. He does not know how to put on a decent show." Others demanded their money back after being frustrated by surging fans who blocked their view and drowned out the music.

Two wheelchair-bound fans from Fort Myers were asked by Broward sheriff's deputies to leave the frenzied Sportatorium for their own safety. A crying blonde, Kathy Herrmann of Miami Shores, had her thumb wrenched when another fan ripped away one of the autographed scarves that Elvis tossed to the crowd.

Over the strains of "Jailhouse Rock" and 'Don't Be Cruel" fist-fights broke out near the stage as Elvis worshipers clambered over seats trying to get closer.

Somewhere up front, where Elvis tossed the blue and white scarves to the ecstatic throng, was 15-year-old Vivian Hernandez who had waited three hours to be the first person inside the arena for Presley's first appearance in South Florida in seven years. The homestead teenager was just renewing a love affair that began two years ago when she sneaked out to Presley's Beverly Hills home and perpetrated the only crime of her young life: she stole a brick, which she keeps under her bed to this day. "He's beautiful," she cried.

That's the kind of loyalty, even lust, the excitable sellout crows brought with it into the Sportatorium. The legion of fans roared each time the king of rock 'n' roll shook, or even twitched, his legendary hips during the hour-long performance. "I would give anything just to touch him," said Sherry Walker, a dental assistant from North Miami.

Fans began trickling in to the remote West Broward site as early as 8AM to sit in their cars, campers and pick-ups to wait for their hero, the Fonzie prototype that took the entertainment world by storm in the 1950s. "He's not getting older, he's getting better," cooed 28-year-old Wanda Hickey of Hollywood, who arrived bright and early Saturday with sandwiches, sodas and a deck of cards. Fort Lauderdale housewife Fay Lupo arrived in a low-cut yellow dress and an Elvis button pinned to her chest. "If he sings Burning Love, I'm going to jump 18 rows out of my seat," she vowed. "You'll have to hold me down."

Not all of Elvis' admirers were women. Dominick Bruno, a 55-year-old tailor from Margret, explained his fervor simply: "I'll be an Elvis fan until the day I drop." Jetting in for the concert from Memphis, Elvis' hometown, was businessman Robert Echols. "We go to a church that is next door to his house," he said, "but you can't get tickets to see him in concert." Backstage, the Presley road crew started work at noon, hanging massive amplifiers from the ceiling over the 48-by-80 foot stage.

"We don't have to rehearse, we've been together so long," said J.D. Sumner, lead singer of the Stamps Quartet, the group that opened the show at 8PM. Presley's appearance in South Florida was a triumphant one for the minstrel of macho. "He loves it. He loves to be on stage," said Sumner, who has known Presley since the star was 14.

Born in Tupelo, Miss., on Jan. 8 1935, Elvis grew up the only child of cotton farmer Vernon Presley and his wife Gladys. A twin brother, Jessie Garon, died at birth. Elvis learned to sing at church meetings and revivals, and once he claimed he learned to move his hips from watching the more successful Bible-thumpers work the Southern circuit.

Legend says that he strapped on his first guitar at age 12 in Memphis and quickly began to pick up on hillbilly and blues tunes. After he took job as a truck driver, Elvis paid $4 to cut a demo record for his mother. His voice - low, smooth and suggestive - caught the ear of a Memphis disc jockey who hooked Presley up with Sun Records. The rest, of course, is music history. By 1959, Elvis had recorded 21 songs - each one sold more than a million copies.

The British rock sound dominated in the 1960s and Elvis took a long hiatus from concert tours, concentrating on a couple dozen mediocre movies that showcased his singing and minimized his acting talent. In the past few years, however, Presley has returned more and more often to the concert stage. Last year he played more than 100 engagements to more than a million fans. Thought thicker of thigh and chubbier of cheek, the King still is an instant sell-out.

"It's an aura that will never die," said North Miami Beach secretary Zane Sarkisian. Saturday's concert, Presley's first since New Year's Eve, was the result of Sportatorium general manager Bruce Johnson's hard work. Johnson has been negotiating with the Presley management group since October. Once it became official, tickets sold out in a matter of hours, as fans camped out overnight for a chance to see the man they call "The King". "We worked a special deal with Elvis," Johnson said. "He gets a very large percentage and we get a very small percentage." Elvis' only demand, made through his mentor Col. Thomas Parker, was a dressing room with a full-length mirror. The Sportatorium happily obliged.

Presley secluded himself under Presidential-like security at the Sheraton Inn hotel in West Palm Beach, near the West Palm Beach auditorium where he will appear before another sell-out crowd tonight. The 110-member troupe arrived in three Presley jets Friday night and early Saturday morning at Palm Beach International Airport. One group flew in aboard a Jetstar from Nashville, the show group took a Presley DC9 from Los Angeles, and "the King" himself arrived aboard a Convair 880 in the pre-dawn hours.

The rest of the show - Sumner and the Stamps Quartet, the Sweet Inspirations, and the show band - piled onto a bus at 5PM for the 75-mile-trek from West Palm Beach to Hollywood. Presley himself made the trip to the Sportatorium on a red-white and blue chartered Greyhound bus. A helicopter landed near the Sportatorium as a diversionary tactic, according to a Presley bodyguard and the chopper was immediately engulfed by 800 fans. Presley arrived at about 9.30 PM, just moments before he went on stage. Elvis noticed the blazing house, which was destroyed although no one was injured. His bodyguard said Elvis joked, "Sure is a warm reception."

Courtesy of Juan Luis Gonzalez / Scott Hayward