The opening show on July 31st, 1969 was an invitation-only event. The people in attendance consisted of media people who were there to cover Elvis’ return to live performances for various different magazines and newspapers, and all kinds of other ‘vip’s’; celebrities, high rollers, executives and other ‘suits’, some regular fans as well as close friends and associates of Elvis, Parker’s and the International staff. And because of the special occasion, everyone was gifted with a special promotional package (see picture on the right) that consisted of two Elvis LP’s, few 8×10’s, pocket calendar, RCA catalog and a note giving some details regarding Elvis’ return and career in general. A closer look at the package, see HERE.
Amazingly enough – but also probably for a reason – to date, we have seen no recordings or film from the show at all. The only ‘document’ we have of the happening are many interesting articles written by people who were actually there (media and fans), and some excellent photos from multiple different photographers of Elvis in action. Despite the fact that it was chosen that it would not be captured on film nor audio, by all accounts the show was a great success. All the rehearsing and other effort Elvis and the group put in for the show did not go to waste during the whole month.
This and the following pages go through the written and photo-graphical documents from the engagement – most of the media were there only for the opening show but many fans wrote their experiences in great detail throughout the engagement. All photos below are all from the actual opening show.
— Regarding the actual article below; Ray didn’t attend the July 31 OS – his first show was the August 1 DS but his article was added to this page as we feel it captures the excitement of the first shows best.
London Evening Standard
August 2, 1969
By Ray Connolly
Elvis Presley came back from celluloid wilderness of Hollywood over the weekend to make his first public appearance in nine years. For a reputed fee of £225,000 the god of rock and roll returned to the stage in a blaze of advertising at the brand new International Hotel in this hot and lunatic town of Las Vegas. I’ve already seen the show three times and I can tell you he is sensational – better than any of us could ever have imagined.
Twice nightly for 28 days he will be appearing for the rich and their womenfolk. “It is,” Elvis says, “the most exciting thing I’ve done in years”. But it was the first appearance on the first night that had all the drama. He was out of this world, better by far than I – always the greatest Presley fan in world – could possibly have hoped for, and a lesson in himself to the entertainment media of our generation.
For a full hour he worked and sweated, gyrated and shuddered, warbled and sang, and grunted and groaned his way through 20 songs. It was a sensational comeback. Looking as slim as a ramrod, and not a day over 23 (he’s actually 34 now), he ambled back on to the stage after a nine year absence like a sheepish young lad going to meet his girlfriend’s parents for the first time.
Hardly daring to look or acknowledge the audience, which was composed mainly of over-thirties, since young people could never normally afford the price, he went straight into Blue Suede Shoes and had completed I Got A Woman and That’s All Right, Mama before finding it necessary to begin any chatting.
For over an hour he flogged himself to near exhaustion moving wildly and sexily around the stage all the time, and now and again reaching for a handkerchief or a glove from the ecstatic and many-splendoured ladies in the front row. Although his early fans are grown up and mothers themselves now, Elvis has remained the boy from the South – awkward, shy, full of evil promise and a dynamic performer.
As backing, a group of girl singers, the Sweet Inspirations, joined with the Imperials to add strength to an outstanding six-man group on electric piano, drums, bass and three guitars.
It is difficult to describe the exact appeal of the man. True he is a great and rhythmic singer, but there’s something more. His perfect looks and style add a charisma that is magnetic. Having seen his show it is easier now to understand how he became the legend that he is in pop music.
Surprisingly the biggest applause of the night, and it was generous always, came of a brand-new song called Suspicious Minds – his next record and almost certainly 51st million seller.
While his act is concentrated mainly on a selection of his own many hits he also found time to include some great versions of Ray Charles’s I Can’t Stop Loving You and Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode.
It was indeed a memorable night. The night when Elvis Presley, the founder of much of modern day pop music, discovered that he is still one of greatest performers and went back to doing what he always did best.