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CONCERT DATE: October 19 1976 (8:30 pm). Madison WI.

Elvis - He's Still the King
by Dave Zweifel
Capital Times
October 20, 1976

Twenty years ago a high school girlfriend bet me that Elvis Presley wouldn't last five years. Ha! As a matter of fact, I'm not so sure I didn't see her at the Dane County Coliseum Tuesday night in that mob fighting for one of the King's scarves. Let's leave no doubt about it - Elvis is as exciting, as full of feeling and, yes, as wiggly, as he was in those good old days when most of our parents were convinced he was part of the Communist conspiracy.

The largest crowd in the history of the Coliseum - 10211 - nearly went wild when the acknowledged King of Rock and Roll finally strolled on to the stage for the first time ever in Madison. "I can't believe it, it's him," screeched one obvious alumna of the Class of '56. There he was, all decked out in his white suit with blue and black studded stripes - just like the pictures. His hair now sported the "dry look", but his face didn't seem to show a sign of his 41 years.

Many had stood in line over night about a month ago to pay $12.50 for this moment, and I, at least, couldn't find one disappointed face in the place. Even those who paid $7.50 to watch the back of Elvis' head went into a near riot when he said "Sure, I'll turn around," and did just that. Elvis sang it all during the hour and five minutes he was on the stage. He started with one of his more contemporary hits which the crowd liked. But, that was nothing compared to what was to come. "Trrreat me like a fool - oh - but love me," he began and the people bellowed in delight. Women of all ages - and a great number of men, too - rushed the stage because anyone who follows Elvis knows this is when he starts handing out his scarves.

It was just like those old high school days. Only this time it was for real, not just pictures in the newspapers. His hips and legs moved the same way they did in those days when our parents were convinced he was going to turn us all into sex maniacs. A couple of times he leaned over and kissed those who begged him to. Then, he'd take off his scarf and hundreds of outstretched hands grasped for it. In a second, a new scarf was put around his neck and, just as quickly, he gave it away. All this, and he never missed a note.

But, as Elvis was giving away scarves, others in the audience were begging him to take presents from them. The Coliseum rocked with cheers as their hero put on one of those bright red Wisconsin cowboy hats. One fan gave him pillow she had embroidered with his name on it. Others threw roses and carnations over the heads of policemen and ushers who tried to hold back the mass. Pandemonium is the only word for it, but the crowd loved it. And, judging from his expression on stage, Elvis did, too. As for me, I thought the whole show was first class. After 20 years, it does seem a bit silly that people my age nearly faint at the sight of an entertainer. But none of that can take away the fact that Elvis Presley is one of the most talented and charismatic singers of our time. His songs that transformed the course of popular music for all time will never be sung with the feeling and fervor that is Elvis Presley's alone.

He sang them all for us Tuesday night with the one glaring exception of Heartbreak Hotel, the song that sent him on the way to fame and fortune. Hound Dog, Don't Be Cruel, All Shook Up, Teddy Bear, Jailhouse Rock - what memories they instill. And in case you think Elvis can only sing that "damn fast music" (a term my dad used frequently) you should have heard him with Hawaiian Wedding Song, a stirring version of America the Beautiful, and, his closing number, the famed Love Me Tender.

The Elvis show started promptly at 8.30 with three other acts. Everyone was good, especially the "Sweet Inspirations". But, like everyone else, I was only there for Elvis, who came on at 9.45 and was whisked away by a host of bodyguards at 10.50. And, during his performance, he sang my favorite Blue Suede Shoes, the song that in the late 1950s stepped all over Pat Boone's white bucks. Today, Pat Boone is flying in airplanes with John Dean and Earl Butz. But Elvis, he's still the king.

Courtesy of Scott Hayward