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CONCERT DATE: October 9, 1974 (8.30 pm) Abilene, TX.

Elvis: A Vision In The Flesh
by Jim Conley
Abilene Reporter News
October 10, 1974

An hour before, they had been the polite young women of Abilene. But by the time Elvis Presley neared the end of his Wednesday night concert in Taylor County Coliseum, they had become as crazed as the wild Dingo does of Australia.

No, not all of the thousands of women at the record-breaking concert lost their minds. "But scores of them were a credit to the theories of Charles Darwin: "it was survival of the fittest" in the area directly in front of the stage as the concert ended at 10:30 p.m.

ELVIS HAD DONE many of his hits from the past, "Love Me Tender," "Blue Suede Shoes," "Heartbreak Hotel," "Don't Be Cruel" - with each tune seeming to add to the frenzied screams of his devoted fans, many now in their thirties.

When Elvis would move toward the stage after wiping his face with a blue, or white souvenir scarf, the rumble near the stage was felt as well as audible. Pity any men who so much as raised a hand as a scarf floated down to the mob.

Even "Abilene's finest" who tried to guard the stage with patience and smiles, were no match for the housewives of Abilene who realized that this might be their "now or never" chance to touch or see the King of Rock 'n' Roll up close

By the time Elvis was closing his solid hour of songs with "Hawaiian Wedding Song" and "1 Can't Help Falling in Love With You," There was no holding them back.

On the front row one woman stood up and suddenly another woman was in her chair; only the new occupant was on her knees in the seat and facing backwards.

The fans had the look of people who have seen miracles or visions. But their vision was right there in real life, wearing a shining white suit trimmed in blue with metal studs, and sporting a belt, buckle which would have been the envy of a world championship wrestler.

MANY FANS admitted they could not believe they were really there, that Elvis was really there and that it was all really happening. In short, they were "zonked" by the whole evening.

Elvis' act was well-paced; his voice seemed to be as good or better than ever, and his backup band was befitting the King of the Mountain in the music world.

One band member, bass player Duke Bardwell, first cousin of Abilenian Mrs. Bernard (Joan) Taylor, said Elvis musicians are mostly people who pursue their own professional careers when not in concert with Elvis. Bardwell, for example, has played with Jose Feliciano and Loggings & Messina,as well as done an album of his own original songs.

AND FORMER Abilenian, Kathy Westmoreland, who is Elvis' "high" voice singer, demonstrated the tone and quality of her superb background vocalizations, which can be heard on several Presley albums.

Now about three months away from his 40th birthday, Elvis looked older, naturally, than he did as the young idol of yesterday. But his fans have grown up with him and many said they thought Elvis looked even better as a "more mature" man.

One thing was obvious; he was the commander of his show. A special look at one guitarist signalled "lower your volume" and a certain upward wave, of the hand to several female vocalists seemed to indicate that he couldn't hear them well enough.

Another thing noticeable up close was that he had a friendly rapport with his on-stage people. He grinned at a member of the "Sweet Inspirations," three beautiful black women, one of whom had a cough Wednesday night. "Are you okay?", he seemed to be asking her.

BARDWELL, the bassist, had explained before the concert that working with Elvis is sort of like being in a fraternity, with your own gold-colored metal credit card ("This certifies that DUKE BARDWELL is a member of The Elvis Presley organization, etc. Signed, Elvis Presley") and a gold medallion on a chain around your neck.

Does the credit card get yon in special places? he was asked.

"Oh, it's like anything else," he said with a laugh. "If they know yon, you can get in"; if not ... "

ELVIS SEEMED to have a sense of humor about himself, too, smiling as he croaked a note once, and laughing when he did all the old raised-eyebrow and pouting-lip expressions of days gone by.

It was all over too soon for thousands of fans. When the spotlight went out and the houselights went up, he had left a big crowd with the feeling he expressed in one of his lop songs - "All Shook Up."

Courtesy of Archie Bald