One Hell of An Eye
The Official Blog of Mike Salisbury
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Colonel Tom Parker had signed the invitation. You are personally invited. Elvis Live at the Las Vegas International.

The moon was full. The highway empty. I was in my 356 with the sunroof open on the way to Vegas to see The King.

Elvis live at the Las Vegas Hilton, 1971

Elvis live at the Las Vegas International, 1971; photo by Mike Salisbury

The last Elvis song I even cared about at that time was recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis. This show in Vegas was the new Elvis in the white jumpsuit and sash under the bare navel.

Mike Salisbury, circa 1971

Mike Salisbury, circa 1971

The flared pants a bit short over the white patent boots.

This was four  years after I participated in Monterey Pop, even more time had passed since I photographed Jim Morrison in the gym of Long Beach State waiting to go onstage with the Doors.

Leaving the new music world of working with Ry Cooder and Sly Stone, I was on another planet. There was nothing in the desert to pass the time into the different zone of “Viva Las Vegas” except for trying to imagine the meaning of the word on the sign for the turn-off to the mystery town of Zyzyx.

You can see time in the desert. You can look down Highway 15 where it gets straight and Vegas is a couple of hours away right there in front of you. The Haole Don Ho was waiting.

1971, Elvis souvenir menu; International Hotel, Las Vegas

1971, Elvis souvenir menu; International Hotel, Las Vegas

The curtain opened. The King made his entrance and blew me away. He had as much energy as an NBA player running up and down the court at a playoff game while singing every song he ever recorded.  He did not take a break; he was never off-key. He threw out the scarves on his neck to standing, screaming, thousands of fans and should have just passed out from exhaustion. Then the lights went down. There was no sound.  In almost a whisper, Elvis began the lyrics to Dixie.  Moments in, the band came up from behind, sliding seamlessly into the Battle Hymn of The Republic, building emphatically  along with Elvis  as he brought his audience to tears and silence.

"Complete Elvis Souvenir Photo Album on Sale at Hotel Entrance and Cafe International."

"Complete Elvis Souvenir Photo Album on Sale at Hotel Entrance and Cafe International."

The curtains closed. I started to go but turned and snatched up my souvenir menu before the hordes of crying, bouffant-headed fans cleaned the tables of anything that couldn’t run away.

Somehow I hooked up with a young lady and since her parents were out, went to their apartment in one of those buildings straight out of “The Hangover” — a stucco cellblock sitting on plantless asphalt next to the freeway.

I was home in Laurel Canyon before dawn in the same night I saw The King.

There was no traffic, no CHP; the Porsche an invisible stealthy grey color. I had not a drink. No drugs were involved, not even coffee.

Next stop for the King and I would be Graceland six years after to visit his grave.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *


Great story, Mike…thanks!  Katie S.

Great piece, Mike! Really dig it!  Well told. I’m a big Elvis fan and actually just finished cutting a doc on him a couple of weeks ago.  Darren M.

That was hot, Mike. Love the b/w of Andy Warhol in the hotel room. You took the best shot of him by far. You should make a book of these blogs.  It’s very interesting.  Annie F.

Cool blog about the King. Pete B.

He died on my birthday. I was asked to be in his band for this show and turned it down. Great picture. Russ T.

To Deux Magots List. Wander thru Brand Man’s blog…pretty interesting. Would you believe Brand Man was born in Eureka, UT? I also know a talented LA interior designer who was born in Meeteetse, WY. The Bishop…P.S. I’ve been trying to get Brand Man (Venice) and Hotel Man (Marina del Rey) to have coffee at Hotel Man’s LA coffee joint. We must continue to strengthen the bonds of LSDM list members (no need, however, to strengthen LSMD intellectual capacity, already at a level of original Deux Magots denizens, Sartre, Camus, DeBouvoir and Hemingway).  To Brand Man and Hotel Man, be careful of tripping on broken LA sidewalks, not to mention….

Have you seen the new Cirque du Soleil Elvis show in Vegas? The best part of the show (besides the music) is all the film footage of Elvis at various stages of his career. He looked great in the footage of his Vegas shows.  Michael P.

MS: Speaking of Cirque…I was just in Macau working on a Franco Dragone show.

He was the man…John R.

MS: in person–a phenom.

Love your blog on Elvis!!! I also went to one of the 1971 concerts in Las Vegas and remember Dixie and Battle Hymn of the Republic. I was probably one of those crying, bouffant headed babes grabbing menus. I kept my menu for a long time. Just think, we could have met for the first time then.

I just made an interesting discovery. If  you go to, on the search line put books, then your name, your book comes up. A new copy is now selling for $92.99. Then click on “more about author” then “visit Mike Salisbury’s page” and it brings up books you are referenced in. Then you can click on the actual pages and read what it says about you. I don’t know if you were aware of this or not, but I thought I would pass it on. There are 21 books that reference you. It’s interesting to look at some of the pages. You are a genius!! Really hope you write another book!! Jeanie S.

MS: Wow. Thanks, Jeanie. I have the menu but somehow the invite “walked.” (another book would have the racier bits missing in the blogs…).

Felt like I was in Vegas. Thanks for sharing this. Seeing kings is like seeing shooting stars, make sure you don’t miss it. Richard L.

Great as usual! J. Tabler

Sweet, brother. b oom! Tim G.

I love that shot of Elvis. That shot of you is awesome too. You look like the lead singer of a rock band. And you had way too many cool cars. Cheers. Nelson Q.

Another enjoyable read, as always. You’re quite prolific this year.  Judy L.

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12 Responses to “Elvis the King and I”

  • Trisha O Says:

    What a fortunate life you have been blessed with and, above all, what you have given back with your gifts for others to admire and enjoy!

    MS Reply:

    thank you very much trisha. more to come. i hope.

  • Fairbanks Says:

    You are like a high priced violin, Mike.
    ne plus ultra, the highest pitch! Thanx!

    MS Reply:

    thanks maxx.

  • Florina Says:

    I want to say this blog is kinda awesome, gracias,

  • Silvester Says:

    Hi, great Elvis picture – never I saw Elvis in this suit. Do you have more photos?

    MS Reply:

    thanks. yes i do have more photos of Elvis in this suit.

  • Patricia F. Says:

    Mike I almost threw a gasket here when I saw the ref to the “King!” I am one of the longest Elvis fans on this earth! Oh, I just love your blog! You made my day better. I saw his last concert here in Jax before he died. There was only one Elvis and never will be another. Thank you, Thank You Very Much!

    MS Reply:

    thank you patricia.

  • michael lynch Says:

    1971, both in your prime and doing it….

    MS Reply:

    thanks michael.

  • Sara Says:

    One of the most regretted things in my life was that I never even got see him. As a toddler I fell in love with Elvis and my love just grew and grew. I had definite mindset and a plan to marry him as soon as I could drive or fly or run or skip to him. x

    He married someone else as you know, broke my little heart but never diminished my love for him. Oh, I did finally several years ago practically forced a girlfriend who’s mother took her to see Elvis in Las Vegas, give me the scarf he handed to her in the audience. She didn’t even want to go and was mad cause her mom made her. She was just the messenger delivering that scarf to me is how I saw it. x Thanks for the memories Mike. Great pics. Always…Sara