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CONCERT DATE: March 11 1974 (8:30 pm). Hampton VA.

Local Fans Scream Loyalty To Elvis
By Linda Cooley
The Times Herald
March 12, 1974

Not rain, a half mile walk or $10 tickets will keep middle America from adoring their glittering idol, Elvis Presley.

Elderly mean hearing aids and canes, 35 year old women in hot pants with hair piled high and studded with rhinestone pins and 10 year old girls screaming "Elvis,Elvis!" paid their tribute about 10,500 strong to an older, shorter-haired Elvis at Hampton Roads Coliseum Monday night.

Some fans had to walk in the cold rain from adjacent parking lots when the coliseum lot filled up 20 minutes before showtime.

More relaxed than on his April 1972 visit here and at times almost giddy. Elvis proved again his versatility in the many types of music he performs, but more importantly, that he can still mesmerize an audience.

Backed up by 10 vocalists and 10-piece orchestra Elvis emerged as he did for his 1972 performances during the theme from the film 2001 looking like Cinderella's prince.

Dressed in white jumpsuit studded with gold chains and turquoise stones. Elvis put together songs from driving rockers like "C.C. Rider" and "I Got A Woman" to the Chicago blues song "I'm A Steamroller Baby," to the religious "How Great Thou Art" and a rendition of "Dixie" that brought tremendous audience reaction.

Elvis, now 39, appeared amused by the audience reaction and pleased that he could still bring girls charging to the stage by moving a hip in their direction.

He managed to dispose of at least half a dozen neck scarves to maniacal young women. A scuffle over one scar between two people was eventually resolved by a policeman who tore it in half.

Almost always pictured with a guitar, Elvis apparently uses it just for show now. when he first came on stage, a black linger-smudged guitar was gingerly placed around his neck. He removed it two songs later without having touched its strings.

Strolling around the stage whispering to female singers and breaking them into laughter, or motioning for one of his bodyguards to poke another singer in the leg, it was hard to tell whether Elvis just wasn't taking things seriously or if he was just having a tremendous amount of fun.

His gyrations were somewhat more mundane than those that made Ed Sullivan nervous in the early days, but he is as agile as ever. At the end of "Polk Salad Annie," he did a near split - when like any slightly out of the ordinary move - made the audience scream.

The king of rock can still slow fans down and move them just as well as he can bring them up and excite them. "Why Me Lord," a gospel song, was one of the most stirring numbers, and the voice power that came from the vocalists was incredible powerful.

While the former truck driver who began with country and western music gave his followers trinkets, they gave others back. A set of long red underwear lettered with "I'm longing to kiss Elvis," a large paper flower, and a tiny brown teddy bear thrown on stage during, of course, "Teddy Bear," were among the items Elvis got but didn't take away.

The Elvis concert is like no other rock concert at the coliseum. Sold out in several days, the performance was surrounded with security that would keep the Shah of Iran, Henry Kissinger and Patricia Hearst secret backstage.

Presley had no less than 25 Hampton police as security. Arrangements were so secret that Monday afternoon Hampton Police Chief P.G. Minetti said of Elvis arrival, "It's so secret, I don't even know."

The policemen who usually don levin and sweat-shirts to act as narcotics agents at concerts wore their traditional blue, and for probably the first time actually got to watch some of the show.

Unlike with other rock stars, the surroundings preceding an Elvis concert are considerably more tacky. A greasy-haired pot-bellied huckster-type incessantly urged fans to "get your super souvenirs": picture books, posters, banners, "all made up just for this tour" he barked "you can't buy them in any store."

One vendor during Elvis' April 1972 appearance reportedly sold about $3,000 worth personally of Elvis trinkets.

Unlike any other promoters who grant press passes, Elvis promoter Tom Parker would allow no news photographers or reporters without the price of a ticket.

Courtesy of Scott Hayward