The Pelvis Is Still Shaking

October 19, 1969
By Mary Campbell

Elvis Presley sauntered onto the big stage in the big hotel showroom, a grin coming and going, stage lights reflecting from all the diamonds in his wide wedding ring. He hadn’t been in front of a live audience in eight years packed with moviemaking, and he said later he was worried whether people would like him or find him dated. The audience was wondering if they were going to see the ‘old Elvis’ or something new.

They saw the ‘old Elvis,’ or nearly. He was slimmer, at 34, the baby fat gone, wearing a navy suit cut like a karate uniform. But he looked as young as ever, and handsome. His brown hair, said to be graying, was dyed blue-black and cut in a modification of the old ducktail, and he still looked like he’d be more at home driving a truck than doing something fancy.


They also heard the ‘old Elvis’ except that he was pronouncing his words plainer and for some reason it was more noticeable that he had a pleasing voice.
His stroll to center stage completed, without fanfare or introduction, somebody handed him an acoustic guitar. He stood with it a few seconds, giving the audience more time to wonder what it was going to hear. Then he started to sing – one of the best known of the old ones – Blue Suede Shoes – and right on into more of the songs he made hits in the 1950s: Love Me Tender, Don’t Be Cruel, Heartbreak Hotel, All Shook Up, Jailhouse Rock.
And he did what he always did when he sang those songs on the 50s; he shook all over, with a rhythmic, violent vibration. He rotated his pelvis and his guitar. He jerked and kicked his left leg. He punctuated the final note of a song by giving the guitar a big sideways lunge.

Elvis hadn’t changed much. But his audience had changed a lot. Most of them were old enough to have hated him 13 years ago, and some of them admitted that they had. Now they applauded wildly as each song started and more at the end. Women rushed to stage-side, took off gloves and halfslips and handed them up to Elvis to wipe his sweaty forehead – and screamed when he did.


In 1956, the year Elvis burst into public notice, he called ‘Elvis the Pelvis.’ He could also have been called the father of rock ‘n’ roll and the dynamiter of the generation gap. Kids went wild for him. Adults detested him. Most of them thought he was vulgar and obscene and his music was mindless and tuneless. After a couple of TV appearances, during which his suggestive shaking caused controversy all over the country, the Ed Sullivan show televised him from the waist up only.

In 1969, the pelvis isn’t stilled and neither is the adulation. But the controversy is…
Young people have liked him right along, going to his movies, watching his TV specials, buying his records. Kids who were babies in 1956 like Presley now. Rock has been through a lot of phases and once again for the kids, Presley’s rock is where it’s at.

But why have adults, once anti-Presley, become fans? Presley says: “They learned they can move around like that too.” Rock music no longer gives cultural shock to the middle-aged. And neither does Elvis Presley. Presley still makes those “suggestive” movements. But the shocking of 1956 can be the nostalgia of 1969. And Presley’s personal reputation hasn’t hurt him with the over-30s. There haven’t been any stories of scandals with girls, or boys, or drinking, or drugs.

Instead of becoming a hippie or a revolutionary, Presley has enjoyed a life of prosperity, spending half the year in Hollywood, where his home is on the movie star maps, and half at Graceland, a $1 million mansion and grounds near Memphis. He sold a farm in Mississippi, because he seldom visited it, and moved the horses to Graceland.

Presley was born in Tupelo, Miss. but has been living in Memphis since he was 13. He doesn’t go to Hollywood parties, which he says he never liked. He makes no political endorsements and rarely gives interviews, though his wit is quick enough for answering questions; he quietly makes a good public impression by staying largely out of the public eye.

Since 1967 he has been married to a petite blue-eyed brunette named Priscilla, daughter of an Air Force officer from Memphis, whom he met in Germany. They have a baby, Lisa.

The older generation began to accept Presley during his two years in the Army, 1958-60, when he served without asking for special favors and passed up an entertainment assignment. He drove a jeep in Germany and rose from private to sergeant.

Elvis came out of the Army, plunged into making movies and rolled over 32 movies – all making money, all loaded with songs. Some of the plots were so thin and some of the songs and reasons for singing them so inane that Presley says: “Sometimes I felt like I was singing to a turtle”.

He’d like to make movies with stronger plots, taking dramatic parts in which he doesn’t sing. And he wanted to get back in front of a live audience as a break from the movies. He’d like to do more live singing. “After all, performing for people is how it all started,” he said “I’ve really missed it. It became harder and harder to perform for a movie camera. The Inspiration wasn’t there “

Presley has sold more than 250 million records all over the world and RCA Victor records claims that he has been heard by more people in the world than any other singer in the history of recording. He has 58 gold records, 11 of his long playing records have sold more than $1 million wholesale, and 47 of his singles have sold more than a million copies. Hound Dog sold more than seven million. But lately, LPs of songs from the movies haven’t been selling a million.

“When you get 10 songs in a movie; you can’t have all good songs, man,” the singer says Presley had a million selling record this summer, In the Ghetto, which wasn’t from a movie, and his new single, Suspicious Minds also not from a movie, was one of the 19 songs in his Las Vegas show.

– Courtesy of