Elvis Presley Las Vegas 1969

It’s been FIFTY years since Elvis Presley started performing in concert after an eight year absence from the concert stage. There’s been a LOT written about the event and a LOT of books will be coming out in 2019 to celebrate & commemorate. So I’ll do my best to keep this short, simple and FUN!

ElvisLive2Presley was keen to resume regular live performing. Following the success of the “Singer Presents Elvis Special”, offers came in from around the world. The London Palladium offered Parker $28,000 for a one-week engagement. He responded, “That’s fine for me, now how much can you get for Elvis?

ElvisLive3In May, the brand new International Hotel in Las Vegas, boasting the largest showroom in the city, announced that it had booked Presley. He was scheduled to perform 57 shows over four weeks beginning July 31. Scotty Moore, D.J. Fontana, and the Jordanaires (his original band from the 1950’s), declined to participate, afraid of losing the lucrative session work they had in Nashville.

ElvisLive4This photo was stage on Feb. 26, 1969. Presley signing the contracts that will bring him back to LIFE for all of his fans.

ElvisLive5The International Hotel opened on July 2, 1969. The first artist to play the International Hotel was Ms. Barbara Streisand. On July 31, 1969, immediately following Streisand’s engagement, Elvis Presley performed the first show of what would become a seven-year run at the hotel, encompassing 636 consecutive sold-out shows. Presley’s appearances became a major part of the hotel’s identity, and an iconic chapter in the history of Las Vegas entertainment. The last show was Aug. 28th, 1969.

ElvisLive6Presley’s opening night show was reviewed in Tiger Beat. I remember reading that, in between songs, Elvis looked at the stage floor and announced over the mic that somebody wrote “B.S.” on the floor! The crowd started laughing, then he said “Oh maybe it stands for Barbara Streisand”. Apparently the whole audience broke up in laughter.

ElvisLive7Now Presley was eager to prove himself not just because of the bad movies he had been making in the previous 5-6 years but he also played the Frontier Hotel in 1956 and BOOMBED!

ElvisLive8Presley took to the stage without introduction He dressed in black and NOT a “White Jump-Suit”. The audience of 2,200, including many celebrities, gave him a standing ovation before he sang a note and another after his performance.

ElvisLive9Elvis Presley stepped onstage at the International Hotel in Las Vegas and launched into the driving beat of ‘Blue Suede Shoes’. The audience of 2,000, most of them over 30, roared and squealed in nostalgic appreciation.

ElvisLive10Oozing the sullen sexuality that threw the America into a state of shock in the 50’s, he groaned and swiveled through a medley of ‘Jailhouse Rock’, ‘Don’t Be Cruel’, ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, ‘All Shook Up’ and ‘Hound Dog’. It was hard to believe he was 34 and no longer 19 years old.

ElvisLive11Only celebrities and big spenders were there opening night to hear Presley sing a lot of oldies and a new song, with a new message, ‘In The Ghetto’ chronicles the evils of poverty in a Chicago slum and could signal the birth of a social conscience for Presley. Another recent record release, ‘If I Can Dream’, proclaims brotherhood according to the gospel of Martin Luther King, but did not appear on the Vegas program. When asked if these songs marked a new direction he might take, Elvis answered, ‘I go by the material. When I got ‘In The Ghetto’, I couldn’t turn it down. It was too big’. It’s selling big, too-more than a million to date. He actually did “Memories” as well. Another “New” song that was the second single released from the “Singer Presents Elvis” T.V. Show.

ElvisLive12Now here’s one for all the musicians and historians. Possible Elvis’ Favorite guitar is the Gibson J-200. Above you’ve seen photos of him playing one with his name on the fret board and a special pick guard. That is actually the guitar he used in 1957 when he sang “Teddy Bear” in the film “Loving You”. It actually looked just like the one in this VERY rare photo from 1969. The original J-200 was sent to Gibson’s custom shop by Scotty Moore, then Presley’s “Lead” guitarist, in 1961. It was modified. Somewhere along the line Presley got this unaltered version as well. It was being played by one of the band members until Elvis broke a string on his modified guitar. So he borrowed this one until the string was fixed.

ElvisLive13He slammed his way through KILLER versions of his 1950’s songs like “Don’t Be Cruel”, “Jailhouse Rock”, “Blue Suede Shoes”, ”All Shook Up”, and “Hound Dog”. This made up the set list for most of the nights with some variations in the song list here and there.

ElvisLive14Another “New” song, one that had not been released yet, was introduced. That being “Suspicious Minds” which would go on to be his LAST single to reach No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot-100.

ElvisLive15Lastly he sang “Can’t Help Falling in Love” from the 1961 film “Blue Hawaii”. It would become his closing theme until his passing in 1977.

ElvisLive16At a press conference after the show, when a journalist referred to him as “The King”, Presley gestured toward Fats Domino, who was taking in the scene. “No,” Presley said, “that’s the real king of rock and roll.”

ElvisLive17The next day, Parker’s negotiations with the hotel resulted in a five-year contract for Presley to play each February and August, at an annual salary of $1 million.

ElvisLive18Newsweek commented, “There are several unbelievable things about Elvis, but the most incredible is his staying power in a world where meteoric careers fade like shooting stars.

ElvisLive20Rolling Stone called Presley “supernatural, his own resurrection.

ElvisLive19In 1969 it was exciting to know some things had NOT changed……not just yet.

ElvisPresleyConcerts‘nuff said!

Other  “Lounge” pages with a “50th Anniversary – 1969” theme you might find interesting are:

Elvis Presley Birthplace

First Man On The Moon


Clean Up Your Own Back Yard


Ben Franklin Junior High School”


“In The Ghetto”


Singer Presents Elvis, 50th Anniversary Pt. 7


Singer Presents Elvis, 50th Anniversary Pt.6