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Concert Date: February 18, 1977. Columbia, SC.

Elvis: Many Things Wrapped Into One
By William W. Starr
The State
February 19, 1977

What it was was a happening.
You take Wahoo McDaniel, Richard Petty finishing at Darlington, Johnny Cash and a Carolina basketball game crowd and wrap it into one and you come up with the Elvis Presley concert.

And Elvis' appearance at Carolina Coliseum Friday night might have been the only thing that could bring together Strom Thurmond, novelist Billy Price Fox, Columbia Police Chief William Cauthen and some 13,000 other folks raging from a three-year old to an elderly woman in wheelchair.

At times it was rather like being in a slow motion film with the black and white images from thousands of camera flashbulbs going off simultaneously and continually. And when the lights were up, it seemed there were more double knit suits in the Coliseum than there are in Springs Mills' warehouse.

When Elvis made his first appearance at 9:50 p.m. the shrieks and screams and flashing lights hit a peak. And if Elvis appeared just a trifle paunchy and with a bald spot at the back of his head, it mattered precious little to anyone within hearing range.

Those women sitting on the first few rows in front of the stage immediately began standing, shouting, waving their arms and beseeching Elvis for attention. When they got it, they were rewarded with one of the numerous silk scarves Elvis tossed in their direction during his 75-minute concert.

In return the women tossed an assortment of items on the stage including a G-string, panties, a silk pillow and a bible.

The crowd was ready when Elvis appeared. They sat tolerantly through a 50-minute warmup which offered a comedian, a female trio and a male quartet and 25-minute intermission. But the anxiety was quickly forgotten when Elvis briskly climbed to the stage.

If there was anything less than total happiness at Elvis performance, it wasn't immediately obvious. Oh there were some who said he should have sung "Hound Dawg"or "Don't Be Cruel" but a random check on the way out of the Coliseum failed to turn up anyone who wanted to get his money back.

Elvis was attire in a modestly sequined white jump suit open to very nearly the waist and those moments when he wiped one of the scarves across his chest invariably drew the loudest sights and shrieks.

Just how Elvis controlled the audience was evident from his version of "My Way," in which he surprisingly used a sheet containing the words. Why he did that was clear when halfway through he forgot the words. But after a few laughs, he resumed the song and finished with a powerful close that brought some in the Coliseum to their feet.

"If he's gotten older, he's just gotten better," said one middle aged woman leaving the Coliseum after the concert.

The crowd was orderly, though slightly hysterical at times. A number of Coliseum security personnel and police officers had to clear the aisles from time to time and they had a struggle to keep the crowd from collapsing to the stage when Elvis finished his act and kneeled, shaking hands and kissing those on the first rows.

One girl - apparently in her late teens - waved her arms frantically at that point, apparently oblivious to the fact that she was banging her head briskly with her camera.

A group of several bodyguards hustled Elvis off the stage at the end of the performance and he apparently returned to the Sheraton Inn across the street from the Coliseum. The singer rented the entire second floor of the motel and an additional 80 rooms for his entourage Security was tight and those admirers hoping for a glance were disappointed.

Elvis arrival in Columbia was shrouded in mystery, fans missing his anticipated arrival at the airport at noon. Newsmen failed to locate him before the concert and he was not available for interviews according to a spokesman.

Courtesy of Francesc Lopez