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Home > Newspaper Articles > 1974 > March 17, 1974 (2:30 pm) Memphis, TN. Midsouth Coliseum.
CONCERT DATE: March 17, 1974 (2:30 pm) Memphis, TN. Midsouth Coliseum.
How The King Has Retained His Throne
By Mary Ann Lee
March 18, 1974
They come from near and far, stay up all night, turn blue in the cold, wait near hysteria, clutching their cameras and their dreams - all to see the singer they call "the king." His Graceland state has become a magnet for Memphis tourists, but for Elvis Presley's most impassioned fans, it is more. It is the palace of the king, and his inner circle of pals, employees and hangers on receive the envy and awe associated with royal courtiers
"Twenty years after his first hit record "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and "That's All Right, Mama" recorded at Sun Records here - the Presley phenomenon has not abated, although it has undergone subtle, little noted change.
Even when the singer suffered a dip in record sales a few years ago - a situation soon followed by his by-passing Nashville to return to Memphis to record a revitalizing hit, "In the Ghetto," and his signing with NBC TV, ending a long television hold-out with two top-rated specials - the aura of stardom about him never wavered . He never stepped out of character, never dropped the role of "king".
How has he retained his throne for 20 years while other singers came and faded all around him? Sheer talent is not the total answer. Not even the increasing polish of his showmanship, his ability to adapt to changing tastes in entertainment, entirely explain the phenomenon. The fact is, Elvis has always had another ace in the hole: early in his career, the singer became the master of the gimmick. By chance and also by design, he has always had something extra working for him.
In the beginning the "something extra" consisted of being a white boy singing the kind of music previously considered "black" and accompanying his songs by a wiggling pelvis that was considered so scandalous in the 50's, Ed Sullivan dared to televise only the top half of his body when he invited Presley on his Sunday night program. Elvis the Pelvis, they called him then - not "king" - and some of the same middle-aged mothers sitting in the audience for this weekend's shows were no doubt much more scandalized by Presley then than today's mothers are by college streakers.
Other stars - Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, to mention but a few - manage to go outside guarded walls, to give interviews, even to dine in public. Presley doesn't. His security measures would impress even the Secret Service. To see a movie he rents the whole theater and closes it to all except his invited guests. For a few of his friends, his generosity is legendary, but his style with fans is exceedingly aloof: no one permitted backstage, no encores given. A white picket fence around the stage area separated Presley from his audience at the Coliseum - standing inside it were a selected few from his inner circle, who stood staring out at the people beyond.
Presley's style, his way of being the king, always beyond reach, has not alienated the public, but bound his fans ever closer. A man sitting next to me at the Saturday matinee remarked, "It's his gimmick and it works. It makes people want him all the more. How many times have you wanted something very much, then if you got it, you didn't care as much about it anymore?
Courtesy of Francesc Lopez