Thursday, January 3, 2013

The 40th Anniversary of Elvis Presley's 'Aloha Form Hawaii via Satellite"

  Fate has seemed to deem it necessary that I write about Elvis' performance in Hawaii. The thing is I didn't know that this was the 40th anniversary until a few minutes ago. But there are two women, who are no longer with me on Earth, who would most definitely know : my Mother and my Mom (step-mother who raised me). I have a feeling that one or both of them  made it so that I would find the video of the performance.

My Mother, bless her heart, tried everything she could while she was alive to get me to go completely bat crap over Elvis like her. She all but worshiped the ground he walked on, but it wasn't until I got older did I develop a bit of an appreciation of Elvis music other than his gospel. And as it turns out 'Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite' was what could be deemed an early birthday present for her because it was a few days later.

  As for my Mom, well she said she wasn't that big of a fan of Elvis but yet she saw him three times in concert and two of the times were in Hawaii. Plus my Mom got three scarves from Elvis. One from each concert. So all of this leads me to believe that she really liked Elvis more than what she let on and just did not want to admit it.

  So with that bit of background here is my piece on the 40th Anniversary of Elvis ' 'Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite' plus the video that was posted on youtube last year.

  Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite was an Elvis Presley concert that was broadcast from Honolulu, Hawaii January 14,1973 from the Honolulu International Center (now known as the Neil S. Blaisdell Center) and was aired to over 40 countries across Europe and Asia, who saw it the next day, but it was also shown to them in primetime . But despite the satellite innovation, the concert was not aired in the United States until Wednesday April 4, 1973 (Happy Birthday to me ) because the concert took place on the same day as Super Bowl VII. Viewing figures have been estimated to have been over 1 billion viewers worldwide. It was also the most expensive entertainment show at the time, costing $2.5 million.

  Elvis manager Colonel Tom Parker became inspired by President Richard M. Nixon's recent trip to China announced on July 8,1972 that there would be a worldwide satellite broadcast from Hawaii to allow the entire world a chance to see an Elvis Presley concert "since it is impossible for us to play in every major city." It was initially stated that the concert would take place in October or November of 1972 but after MGM studios voiced concern over the possible clashing with the release of their documentary 'Elvis on Tour' the concert date was changed to early 1973. As this show was already planned before this upset, the original shows, now set for November, would still go ahead without being filmed.

  On September 4, 1972 Colonel Parker held another news conference from Las Vegas that the concert, now titled Aloha from Hawaii would be broadcast January 14, 1973. Then the press were told that an audience of 1 billion was expected to watch the "first entertainment special to be broadcast around the world", even though Parker had not taken into consideration that many countries, including parts of America and Europe,would not see the broadcast live because of the time of the broadcast.

  Two weeks after the news conference Colonel Parker received a letter from Honolulu Advertiser columnist, Eddie Sherman. Mr. Sherman had read news accounts that admittance to  the concert was to be free and instead a donation for charity was required. He then suggested to Colonel Parker, that as Elvis Presley had recorded and was still performing the song 'I'll Remember You' written by Hawaiian singer-songwriter Kui Lee, the donations should go to the Kui Lee Cancer Fund that had been established in 1966 following his death. Seeing this as another chance to again  publicize Elvis' charitable side, Parker eagerly agreed.

  Producer-director Marty Pasetta had gone to an Elvis concert in Long Beach, California in mid-November, and found it to be "boring" and lacking in physical excitement. He went to Colonel Parker with ideas for the broadcast, including a runway that led out from the stage and into the audience. Parker thought that the idea was ridiculous and that Elvis would agree with him and have no part of it. To Colonel Parker's chagrin Pasetta went to Elvis with the ideas and Elvis agreed with Pasetta, to Mr. Pasetta's surprise. This only proved to be another example in the growing rift between Elvis Presley and Colonel Parker.

On November 17 and 18, Elvis performed in Honolulu as originally planned for the satellite concert. Then on November 20 Elvis gave a press conference to promote the special. He also officially announced that it now be in aid to the Kui Lee Cancer Fund.

  Before arriving to Hawaii on January 9,1972 for rehearsals, Elvis lost 25 pounds ( too bad he couldn't keep it off ) and was confident after news that his record sales were increasing and that Elvis on Tour had been nominated for a Golden Globe. Rehearsals were held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village while the main set was being constructed.

Elvis attending a sound check

  As a fail-safe, Elvis taped the January 12 rehearsal concert just in case anything went wrong with the satellite during the actual broadcast, but of course nothing went wrong with the actual January 14 broadcast. For both of his shows Elvis wore Bill Belew's white "American Eagle" jumpsuit. Marty Pasetta, who by this time was in charge of directing the Oscars, directed the broadcast.

There was no price on audience tickets for both the January 14 concert and the January 12 pre-broadcast rehearsal. Each member of the audience was asked to give whatever they could afford. The concert and its merchandise raised $75,000 for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund in Hawaii.

  Elvis performed a variety of new and old songs including 'Steamroller Blues', CArl Perkins' 'Blue Sued Shoes', ' Suspicious Minds', 'Hound Dog', The Beatles' 'Something','See See Rider', 'Welcome to My World' and others. After the concert was done and the audience left Elvis went back on stage and recorded five songs for the show that was to be aired in America.

No comments: