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CONCERT DATE: April 28 1977 (8:30 pm). Green Bay WI.

And How Was Elvis? "Fantastic"
by Warren Gerds
Green Bay Press-Gazette
April 29, 1977

It was as if the President were visiting - only worse. Tight security. Secrecy about arrival time. Rumours. $100 tickets. Crowd control. No interviews. No tape recorders. No motion picture cameras. All this for Elvis Presley. He was accorded admiration suitable to his nickname - The King.

Hundreds awaited the arrival of his jet Thursday evening at Austin Straubel Field. Thousands more - 6532 ticketholders - cheered him at Brown County Veteran's Memorial Arena. On the bottom line, Elvis Presley is merely an entertainer. But he has built up an mystique around himself - partly due to his inaccesibility. That mystique generates itself into adventure and excitement for his followers.

His 70-minute performance was not remarkable in itself. But the whole atmosphere was. Earlier in the day, John Dederich, arena manager said laughingly of the impending show: "If it does anything, it'll show that the middle age is just as foolish as the kids when it comes to their own thing." Said one man enjoying a fling like the kids do at rock concerts: "This is the first time 40 doesn't seem so old." But the crowd was not entirely middle age. There were little kids and gray hairs. The average was probably early 30s.

Among the audience was a man who has to be among the ultimate Elvis fans. He's Donald Richard of Montreal. Richard and five of his buddies from Quebec have been following Presley's 12-show tour by car. And they've seen every show. Up to now that's been Detroit, Toledo, Ann Arbor, Saginaw, Kalamazoo, Milwaukee and Green Bay. Coming up: Duluth (where Presley flew right after the show), St.Paul, Chicago (twice) and Saginaw again. This is the fourth year Richard has been using his vacation time to do this. He's seen 75 Presley shows.

How did this interest develop? Richard responded simply in his French-Canadian accent: "We like the show, and we like his style." Richard said Presley changes songs in his show from city to city. Presley has used 28 on this tour. Presley has been "fantastic" on this tour, Richard said. And the crows reaction is the same in every city - crazy, wild.

How do Richard and his pals manage to get tickets? "From scalpers at the door." And they don't get nailed for high prices. "The most we pay is $20," Richard said. About 15 scalpers were selling tickets outside the arena Thursday. One ticket went for $70, while 20 feet away a youngster was selling at $30.

One high school student started asking $75. At 7PM, he turned down a $35 offer. He sold it at 8.30, show time, for $20. Perhaps it was to the patient Mr. Richard or one of his friends.

Meanwhile inside, sitting in a front row seat she paid "around $100 for, Judy Cebert of Green Bay was eagerly awaiting the arrival of The King - her "first teen-age love." The price of the seat was worth it, she said. "When you wait for 20 years and think he won't come here again, I think it is."

Sitting behind her was he husband, Craig. He said: "The only reason I'm here is to make sure she won't get killed." Judy said, "He has visions of me climbing on the stage." A few people tried that, but Presley's security men pushed them back. The total security force was 21 off-duty, plainclothes county policemen and 10 deputies (same as for the recent Kiss rock concert), plus Presley's four-man guard.

Further back in the crowd, Karin Craft of Green Bay was sitting on the edge of her seat with a rose in her hand. "I'm going to ask him for a scarf and a kiss", she said. She figured her chances for that were "about 100 to 1". Plenty of people - about 30 - got scarves, worn for seconds by Presley. One girl got a kiss - but she was Presley's 20-year old girlfriend, singing with the backup group. Karin is a devoted follower of Elvis. "I've got all of his records", she said. That includes 52 albums. What's the attraction? "I don't know, I just love him."

Mary Keyser of Green Bay had the prime seat of the night. Front row, right smack dab under Presley's microphone. Things is, she didn't know she had such a good set beforehand. "We (she and her husband) knew we were in a good section, but we didn't know we were in the first row." The Keysers paid the regular $15 for the ticket, no $100 scalper rate. She said, "I like him a lot, but I wouldn't pay a whole lot of money for it. I can't afford it."

And then there was Judy Shoen of Green Bay. Judy, Judy, Judy - turned on Judy. She waited for 23 hours outside the arena March 19 and was in the group that got the first tickets - front row, of course. Thursday, she was adither with delight. "Fantastic! This is it! He is the ultimate!" she cried before the show. "I would have given my eye teeth to get in the arena, let alone the first row! Can you believe this? I just can't stop shaking." What was she nervous about? "Oh my God! Do you realize who'll be standing there?"

After the show, Judy's head was still spinning. "Fantastic!" was her word for the night. Did she get a scarf? Yep, she produced it from inside her brassiere. She got the second one. Lucky Judy. What was she going to do with the scarf? "Sleep with it tonight, tomorrow and the next night." What of Elvis? "He looked a little old, but he looked great to me," she said. "I couldn't find a flaw in his body."

Presley's show grossed nearly $100000 - easily a one-event arena record. Arena manager Dederich said the whole aura of Presley's visit was "definitely, definitely fun." Many would agree with him. Dederich added, "I think it's a feather in Green Bay's hat if it wants something big."

Courtesy of Scott Hayward