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CONCERT DATE: March 9 1974. Charlotte NC

Presley Packs 'Em In 'Because He's Elvis'
by Henry Eichel and Michael Schwartz
Charlotte Observer
March 10, 1974

"It's HIM!" shrieked Barbara Brazzell, as she clippety-clopped across the parking lot of the Coliseum Downtowner Motor Inn, almost losing one of her stacked-heel shoes.

As Barbara, a 26 year-old beautician from Columbia, got within six feet of a tall, white-clothed figure who looked from a distance like the great Elvis Presley himself, her hands were shaking so much she couldn't fit a flashcube on her instamatic camera.

When the figure turned around to reveal that wasn't Elvis, but a guitar player in Elvis's band, Barbara was so disappointed that she stood still for a long moment, stunned.

Barbara was one of the 13,000 adoring fans who streamed into the Charlotte Coliseum Saturday afternoon for a matinee performance by Elvis - who at 39 is one of the most enduring superstars in pop music history. Another 13,000 adoring fans again filled the Coliseum to hear him Saturday night.

After nearly 20 years at or near the top of the heap, what makes Elvis so great?

"BECAUSE, he's ELVIS," Barbara shouted breathlessly. "He's great!!! He's the only one!!!

Because so many of Elvis's fans are like Barbara - or like Barry Overtree, 20, who drove down from Roanoke, VA without a ticket and paid a scalper $15 for a $7.50 seat - Elvis protects himself by staying in royal seclusion on concert tours.

In fact, he wasn't even at the coliseum Downtowner, though legions of fans thought he was and kept riding the elevators from floor to floor looking for him.

Instead. The Great One was staying high atop the Sheraton Motor Inn three miles away where he and about 20 of his troupe had booked the entire 26-room 12 floor.

AN ATTEMPT by a reporter to get off the Sheraton elevator at the 12th floor met with a stern rebuke from a Charlotte policeman - one of at least five who were standing nearby.

"Nossir," the policeman said. A proffered press card did not good. Did he need a special pass, the reporter asked. "There aren't any," was the answer.

Downstairs at the Sheraton, one of Elvis's group, dressed like the others in high-style garb loaded with spangles, said The Man was resting.

Friday night in Monroe, LA., "The fans bout tore the motel apart," said the group member, who wouldn't give his name because, he said, Elvis's handlers frown on too much contact with the press.

Partly, it's because a concert tour is a grinding, wearing ordeal. But mostly, it's because that by keeping the star on an unreachable pedestal, his image will not be in danger of being tarnished by even the slightest word of [..]

AND TO Elvis's fans, who Saturday spanned the social structure from Cadillacs to pickup trucks, that image shines even brighter now than it did 20 years ago. He was the first performer to burst through the bounds that used to separate pop music, rhythm and blues and country music.

On Stage Saturday, dressed in a glittering white one-piece jumpsuit, he drove the crowd into wave upon wave of screaming adulation as he shifted from the heavy '50s back beat of "Don't Be Cruel" to the country gospel of "Why Me Lord?"

At the 8:30 pm performance Elvis' entrance was preceded by spotlights, spraying beams of light around the stage.

AT HIS entrance music grew louder, excitement swirled through the Coliseum and when he casually walked on stage, the crowd thundered and shrieked.

Mrs. Marian Case, who first saw Elvis in 1956 when he played at a Charlotte theater, clasped her hands to her face, blinked hard, and looked again to make sure it was really him.

his "shaking" was what captured her as a teen-ager fan, she admitted, and the years since she saw him "hasn't hurt him any."

"I wouldn't tear his clothes off," she said, "but I might try to get a piece of his shirt."

And even when he turned his back - plastered with a sequined eagle - to the crowd, a roar exploded.

"He looks as good as from the back as he does from the front," one 50-ish woman squealed.

WHEN ELVIS meandered even close to the edge of the stage, well-dressed women with lacquered hair piled high on their heads made frantic rushes to touch their idol.

"Hold me down, hold me down," shouted one matronly woman as Elvis warbled the first notes of "Fever".

At the end of the concert, he made a quick snatch at the hands of those crowded around the stage and then slipped out to a black Cadillac.

Hundreds of men and women followed him into the parking lot and risked getting run over as the musical institution named Elvis sped away.

One answer to it all came from Tommy Riley, a gray haired father of two who with his wife and brood had driven up from Augusta, Ga.

"Elvis is in the middle," Riley said. "His head may be up there with the big people, but his heart is down with the little people."

Courtesy of Sebastiano Cecere