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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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 Amazon.com, 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.