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CONCERT DATE: May 30 1976 (2:30 pm). Odessa TX.

Elvis "Wows 'Em" At 2 Local Shows
Robert C. Borden
The Odessa American
May 31, 1976


The King came to Odessa Sunday and after two sold-out performances at the Ector County Coliseum, Odessa will never be the same.

Elvis Presley, a rock and roll originator more than 20 years and now a singer of more mature ballads, arrived, performed and left with all the pomp and circumstance of his royal nickname.

It was "Long Live the King" at both matinee and evening performances Sunday and the audience of 8,000 per show ate it up.

Despite a middle-age paunch - after all, he is past 40 - Elvis wowed the crowd with a stunning performance that included songs from his earliest days as "the Pelvis" to his most recent recording of "Hurt," a reworking of an old Timi Yuro classic.

In fact, at least at the night performance. "Hurt" proved to be so popular that he sang it again, a fact that more than pleased the generally disciplined crowd.

Elvis' appearance came after more than two years of negotiations between Coliseum Manager Carroll Albritton and Presley's manager, the famed Col. Tom Parker.

When tickets for the evening show went on sale at 9 a.m. on a crisp, clear Sunday morning several weeks ago, fans from throughput the area braved the still-cool spring nights to be first in line.

Tickets sold out in a few hours and the 2:30 p.m. matinee was added. One woman buying a ticket last Monday told Albritton she had driven 600 miles to see Elvis and planned to stay with relatives throughout the week until Sunday's performance.

Sunday's shows were probably the most carefully planned and executed concerts ever held in Odessa. From the minute the lights went out - on time for a change in Odessa to the final announcement that Elvis had left the coliseum, the crowd was wowed and often times awed by the stunning presentation.

The crowds at both both shows were among the largest to pack the coliseum. Last year, Art Linkletter spoke on drug abuse during a free session, but an exact head count from that packed speech is difficult, according to a coliseum spokesman.

The show began with the Stamps Quartet, one of the most famous and popular gospel groups recording today. They performed several religious tinted songs including "When The Saints Go Marching In."

Performing second was Jackie Kahane, a Canadian comedian who faltered after a few well received opening remarks concerning odessa and midland. Looking at the crowd, he noted: "Midland must be empty"

He did strike a responsive chord when he suggested running Elvis for president. Judging from the response, Presley would have taken 100 percent of the vote.

Also performing before the brief intermission were The Sweet Inspirations, Elvis' backup group for six years. The three girls, whose standing in the music business for some reason has never approached their fantastic talent, turned in what can only be described as a great performance. They shined especially on a medley of Stevie Wonder hits and left the Elvis-hungry audience begging for more.

Presley wisely chose to surround himself with only first-class talent and, although the anticipation for Elvis appearance was almost overwhelming, the warm-up groups were more than managed to maintain the audience's interested and were rewarded with thunderous applause topped minutes later by the thundering ovation given Presley.

After the crowd had been asked back to its seats, the "Also Sprach Zarathustra" theme used in "2001" A Space Odyssey" signaled the arrival of the King. The roar from the crowd built to an almost never ending crescendo as Elvis strutted on stage, raised both hands in greeting and then broke into his first number "CC Rider."

Although no motion picture cameras were allowed - there wasn't that much movement on stage anyway - flashbulbs from several thousand little pocket cameras lit up the Coliseum as bright as day. Throughput much of the show, the flashes turned the hall into an ever-charging light show.

At least 13 deputies, some 30 members of the Ector County Sheriff's Posse and eight or 10 of Elvis' own bodyguards pushed and shoved and generally kept much of the crowd back from the stage. A lucky few, however, got close enough to catch one of the red, blue, yellow or black scarves placed around his neck by an assistant.

Elvis teased the audience tossing each scarf away in a manner that almost equalled the careful production that went into his movements and singing.

As song after song roiled out, the audience gasped its delight, thundered its applause and begged for more. Old hits such as "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Heartbreak Hotel" were interspersed with more recent hits, such as "Only Fools Fall In Love." With the exception of "Hurt" a few other songs such as Sammi Smith's "Help Me Make It Through The Night" the music was all pure Elvis.

Finally, Elvis - who had difficulty talking and apparently had equal problems moving - was through promising to come back, "if you all liked it."

If the audience reaction is any indication, he's welcome back tomorrow.

Courtesy Of Sebastiano Cecere