Gotta Find My Baby!

November 18, 2022

November 17 and 18, 1972: The Original "Aloha From Hawaii"

Elvis during hos 2:30 pm concert on
November 18, 1972; Honolulu, Hawaii
Over the years, it became obvious that Elvis had a great appreciation for Hawaii.

It was there that some of the best moments of his career took place, such as the benefit concert at Pearl Harbor and the movie "Blue Hawaii", both in 1961. The islands would still serve as backdrop for "Girls! Girls! Girls!" and "Paradise, Hawaiian Style", from 1962 and 1966, respectively, plus the special "Aloha From Hawaii" in 1973. In 1968, he bought a house on the beachfront in LanikaiOahu, and made it his retreat whenever possible.

But the love for the beautiful Hawaiian islands had started much earlier, in 1957, when Elvis first visited them. The Rei do Rock was so delighted with the place that he decided that it would be his retreat, spending several of his vacations from there until 1977 in the archipelago.

The first family reunions in the islands happened in 1968 and 1969, when Elvis was at the top of his sixties career. It was also at that point that Lisa took her first steps and that a controversial figure—Mike Stone—entered Priscilla's life as the couple enjoyed what Elvis thought was his paradise.

As we know, the years passed and the relationship with Priscilla came to an end in December 1971. Elvis, as sad as he could be, still had Hawaii as his refuge from bad times, if only in his memory. There wasn't much room for a long vacation with all the recordings and shows the King of Rock had been doing, still riding the wave of his return to the stage in 1969, but he would certainly like to return to the islands as soon as he could.

Aside from personal problems and the very few recordings made that year, 1972 continued to bring positive results for Elvis both in LP and singles sales and on stage. Between two seasons in Las Vegas and three national tours, the singer would end the year with 165 shows performed and his last documentary in his lifetime, "Elvis On Tour", in theaters and running for the Golden Globe for Best Documentary - which it won.

On July 8, 1972, inspired by a recent visit by US President Richard Nixon to China, Presley's manager Colonel Thomas Parker announced that there would be a worldwide satellite broadcast of an Elvis concert in Hawaii to allow the whole world the chance to see one of his performances "since it is impossible for us to perform in every major city" (which was not a fact, but only Parker's fear of leaving the US and not being able to return - he had smuggled in in the 1920s).

Elvis at Madison Square Garden; June 11, 1972

Parker initially stated that the performance would take place in October or November 1972, but it was changed to early 1973 after MGM expressed concern about the date, which would clash with the release of Elvis on Tour.

As the shows had already been planned and made official internally by Parker and Hawaiian contacts, it was decided that the three would normally take place on November 17 and 18, 1972, but without being filmed or recorded. The idea was a good one and Elvis accepted without blinking an eye, since they served as training because they were the last shows of 1972 and Aloha From Hawaii being the first of 1973.

A press conference was organized in the early hours of September 4-5, after the closing show of the second and final season in Las Vegas that year, for Elvis to promote the presentation and answer questions from dozens of journalists present. Appearing deep tired and sleepy, the singer explains that his head is still on the stage and tries to reason quickly to end the commitment as soon as possible and be able to rest.

Due to the rush to organize the conference, Elvis was not informed of several things and the more technical answers were in charge of associate producer and president of RCA Rocco Laginestra.

Elvis and Rocco Laginestra; Las Vegas, September 5, 1972

After finishing his continental tour on November 15, 1972, Elvis had a day of rest before flying to Honolulu on the morning of the 17th. As in 1957, 1961 and on vacations in 1968 and 1969, the singer would stay on the 14th and top floor of the Hawaiian Village Hotel with his entire entourage and band.

Greeted by a crowd, the King of Rock stopped briefly to take photos, sign autographs and shake hands with fans at the Hawaiian capital's airport before heading to the Honolulu International Center (HIC) for a brief rehearsal and soundcheck. Then he was able to rest for a few hours before his first Hawaii performance in eleven years.

At 7:30 pm on November 17, 1972 the HIC was packed with 8400 fans. Opening acts featured JD Sumner, The Stamps Quartet, The Sweet Inspirations and comedian Jackie Kahane. Hawaiian actor Eddie Sherman, one of the stars of the series "Hawaii 5-0" (1968-1973), gave a short speech before the start of Elvis' performance. The auditorium lights dimmed at exactly 8:30 pm and "Also Sprach Zarathustra" began to play to hysterical screams from the crowd.

The TCB Band awaits Elvis' entrance; November 17, 1972

Elvis was greeted by a shower of screams, effusive applause and thousands of camera flashes. Wearing the magnificent Thunderbird jumpsuit, the singer put on a relaxed show and was very comfortable. There were technical problems in the area of sound that were still waiting to be solved, but he and the whole group knew how to get around the situation without the audience suffering any penalty. Song after song, fans showed their excitement and appreciation for Elvis' presence again in Hawaiian lands.

The track listing remained largely the same as at all other 1972 shows, with a few changes to fit in classics that would be the basis of the live broadcast the following year. In all, Elvis performed 24 songs in 70 minutes.

Elvis with the Thunderbird jumpsuit; November 17, 1972

After a great first performance, Elvis was ready to give his best again the next day, this time in two shows. Another 8400 people saw him perform at 2:30 pm on the 18th, in a show even more relevant to the Hawaiian people.

Elvis was more confident with that audience and that helped him to give even more of his best. For almost 80 minutes, the singer performed his greatest hits and made small snippets of some of his Hawaiian songs in tribute to the public.

Elvis with the Black Toreador jumpsuit; 2:30 pm on November 18, 1972

For the 8:30 pm show that same day, which was originally going to be the "Aloha From Hawaii", 600 seats were added to the audience, totaling 9,000 spectators - 3,000 more than those who would have been present for the satellite concert in January of the following year.

The concert took place like the previous two, with Elvis having fun, interacting with the audience and answering some requests, even if only in the form of snippets of songs, as in "Santa Claus is Back In Town". "Little Sister/Get Back," absent from the afternoon concert, returns and excites the crowd, as does "Just Pretend," one of Elvis' favorites that wasn't on the original tracklist.

Elvis with the Aztec Star jumpsuit; 8:30 pm on November 18, 1972

For the next few days, the headline in every Hawaiian newspaper was the success of Elvis' performance. The Honolulu Star Bulletin commented in a review on the 19th about the singer's stage presence and how he was able to control the audience the way he wanted. The Honolulu Advertiser on the 20th had an extensive review of the show and a positive review of the King of Rock's vocal and musical maturation.

Elvis attended a new press conference on November 20, 1972 in the auditorium of the Hawaiian Village Hotel. At the time, he made official the satellite broadcast of "Aloha From Hawaii" on January 14, 1973 and explained that it would be a benefit concert in favor of the Kui Lee Cancer Fund.

RCA President Rocco Laginestra added: "Admission to the show will instead be possible by donation only. All donations will benefit the Kui Lee Cancer Fund."

The singer and Colonel Parker opened the donations with checks for $1,000 each, accompanied by another $1,000 in the name of RCA and $500 from each member of their group.

Elvis during the November 20, 1972 press conference

Officially on vacation, Elvis stayed in Honolulu until the next day, when he returned to Las Vegas to rest until November 30th. The remainder of his free time until January 8 of the following year was spent at Graceland with family and friends.

Research and structuring: Elvis Presley Index |
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