Home > Newspaper Articles > 1975 > April 27, 1975 (2:30 pm). Lakeland, FL.

CONCERT DATE: April 27, 1975 (2:30 pm). Lakeland, FL.

The King Is Here
by Jeff Kline
Lake Ledger
April 28, 1975

They started arriving around 12 noon. A heterogeneous conglomerate of people: young, old, middle-aged male: female dressed elegantly and simply; some covering everything, other covering not so much.

They had a common goal, however, this plethora of humanity. For today, a 40-year old, slightly overweight man was going to spend an hour singing to them all.

The man was Elvis Presley. "The King" as some call him. A super-superstar singer and entertainer; a man who has become a legend in his own time and an institution in American music history.

The crowd was very orderly, very calm. The doors opened on schedule at 1pm. and the crowd, which eventually number more than 8,100 filled there way into the Lakeland Civic Center arena.

Though Elvis is best know for his pop style music, the crowd was composed of relatively few teenagers. It appeared the majority of the people were middle-aged who came to see the man they screamed and fainted over in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Some came a good distance to see their idol. One woman from Vero Beach said folks back home were envious and offered to buy her tickets, an offer she refused.

Some, like Charlotte Gavin of Lakeland, had waited a long time to see Elvis. "This is the first time I've ever seen him". Mrs. Gavin, who is 84 said, proving that it is never to late.

Scalpers were few and far between and for the most part seemed to be having a bad business day. Vendors selling Presley picture programs for $2 and $3, or Presley buttons for $1 or posters for $2, along with the souvenir hawkers inside who offered Elvis scarves and eight track tapes for $5, seemed to be doing better business.

At exactly 2:30pm, the lights dimmed and the 12 piece orchestra started playing. Leading off the evening was the vocal group "Voices" who sang a couple of songs. Next came comedian Jackie Kahane, who for the most part received only polite laughter for his efforts.

Things picked up when "The Sweet Inspiration" performed. But still, the audience wanted Elvis.

An intermission that seemed to last a lifetime finally passed. Then the lights dimmed, the orchestra played the theme song from the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey." The drummer started pounding an insistent rhythm, a spotlight focused on the rear of the stage, and Elvis slowly climbed the steps and walked out greeted by a chorus of screams and cheers from the crowd. Grabbing his guitar, he started wailing out a song, punctuating the words with pelvis thrusts, each of which brought screams from his female admirers.

Shedding the guitar, he began taking scarves from an assistant, wearing them for a few seconds, maybe wiping his brow before giving them to some lucking woman, even an occasion bending to kiss the lucky lady; an act that brought more females to the edge of the stage hoping for some of the same.

Presley looked overweight, as well as a little tired, as he worked his way through a program of old and new songs. The concert settled down, became almost passive. Apparently aware of this, Presley performed a combination of "Dixie" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" a combination that brought many to their feet at its conclusion.

Another song or two and then it was over. "God bless you and take it easy." Presley said as he prepared to leave the stage.

Fans left their seats and went to the stage happy to capture a scarf or get a kiss, or maybe just thankful for the opportunity to be near their idol.

But, "This King" finally had to leave the stage. The audience filed out only to be greeted by hawkers again, this time selling "Elvis Jewelry." and trying to entice customers by mentioning they could, "take Elvis home with you", by buying some jewelry.

"I'll take Elvis" one woman replied to a vendor's plea to purchase a necklace.

Courtesy of Kurt Hinkle