Elvis In Summer 1976
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** Elvis In Summer 1976 **

Elvis In Philadelphia
Elvis In Syracuse
Elvis In Macon

1976 turned out to be a busy year for Elvis. He started out with his first concert in Johnson City, March 17, and from here it went on with concerts over large parts of the States. All in all Elvis performed 129 concerts before the year ended.

Summer 1976 was really up and down for Elvis. Both when it came to his performance on stage and to his private life. He started the year with almost no money left, as he had spent most of it during 1975. This was however no real problem. On every concert he made, the arenas were crowded with people. Business was good! To summarize 1976 you could say that Elvis performed all right, but that he seemed bored. This last thing was especially noticeable during the summer. Sometimes you wonder if he performed just for the sake of making money.

There have been released several bootlegs from this period. And the sound quality is in general magnificent. RCA, or to be more specific, Joan Deary, planned to release one concert from this period on their Gold Box, back in 1984, but she was voted down at the release time. This would have been a good idea, instead of 6 LP (or 4 CD's) with bad sound and the same stuff over and over again. Which concert that was in her mind, I don't know, but perhaps we have it already on bootleg.
In 2001 BMG released a concert from Tucson, June 1st 1976 on their Follow That Dream label. This marked a new era for Elvis fans. Several soundboards followed. The CD, called Tucson '76 contains almost the complete Tucson concert. In addition BMG have added some tracks from Odessa, May 30. 'See See Rider' comes from Odessa. This is a fair version, but listen out for the strange mix on this recording. David Briggs keyboard skills are put well in evidence!
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Also from Odessa, but this time from the evening concert, BMG included 'Love Letters'. This is a painfully slow version in my point of view. When Elvis recorded this song back in 1966, he struggled to get the tempo right. He continued struggling with the tempo through all 1976 and early 1977! Just occasionally he and David found the right tempo.

The concert from Tucson is in general standard fare, although Elvis sings a nice, but short version of 'Help Me Make It Through The Night'. Also 'Burning Love' stands above the rest of the concert, with 'Jailhouse Rock' as the absolute low-point!

However, the main clue with the concert in Tucson is a live version of 'Danny Boy'. Before this, very few had even heard of Elvis doing this song on stage. Here, BMG strikes back at the bootleggers and release a "new" song. It is alone worth the price of the CD!

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Audionics released a soundboard recording from El Paso, June 2nd on their release El Goes El Paso. It features a coherent Elvis delivering a ok show. It is pretty standard all the way, but he sings two versions - both good - of 'Hurt'. I doubt Elvis felt 100 % at ease in El Paso; just after two verse of 'Funny How Time Slips Away' he quickly adds "take it home", before ending the show with 'Can't Help Falling In Love'. A rapid take off.
The June 3rd concert in Ft Worth was released on Madisons double CD release, Holding Down The Forth. This sounds like a good show, with Elvis in very high spirit and relative good vocal shape. He sounds much more fit than in both Odessa, Tucson and El Paso some days before.
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Luxor released the Greensboro show from June 30th on My, It's Been A Long Long Time. Allegedly, Elvis had collapsed on the plain from Richmond the day before, after a great show there. The show in Greensboro is of fair standard. Elvis seems extremely bored, but manage to sing ok, although his voice is very weak in parts. He has this "whining-voice". It is very evident on 'Love Letters'. This bootleg also features The Sweet Inspiration "warm up" numbers. Their own 'Sweet Inspiration' (from Duluth, October 16) is a genuine piece of music.
Elvis' repertoire was already stuck, so there was little variation. 'I Got A Woman/Amen' is like all the rest of this song. Elvis did this "well-well" number more or less every concert in 3 - 4 years. Amazing!! The only variation on the Greensboro show was 'Blue Suede Shoes' which Elvis performed after 'And I Love You So'. (Usually he sang 'Jailhouse Rock' here). By this time Elvis had made it a regular act to invite John Wilkinson to play 'Early Morning Rain' and James Burton to play 'What'd I Say' and 'Johnny B. Goode' during the introductions of the band. These introductions took more and more time.

Elvis sings two versions of 'Hurt' also on this show, which normally is a good sign. It was not every day he managed to do this song twice in 4 minutes. The second version is the best I think, but on both versions the ending is far from "Elvis" standard, as he ends them without the powerful ending.
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FTD released the July 3rd show from Ft. Worth, Texas. It was the second time Elvis was here in one month (also on June 3rd). He performs an adequate show and get enormous applause after his version of 'America'. The show holds no surprises, but comes in great sound on the FTD release, Rocking Across Texas.

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On the 4th of July Elvis did a good performance in Tulsa. The day after it went home to Memphis for a tour-ending concert here. This concert was released on the bootleg 'Goodbye Memphis' (Fort Baxter). It was Elvis' last concert in his hometown, and it was a long concert. He performed some rare songs, like 'One Night' (after a request), 'Fairytale', 'That's Alright, Mama' and 'Blue Christmas'.

The concert was re-released in 2009 on The Final Homecoming in even better sound than the original.
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Elvis In Memphis 1976
Elvis In Memphis, July 5 1976
Before 'That's Alright', Elvis stated that some people had said to him that he couldn't do this song anymore, and says "...you by God watch me...." He then starts the song with a Johnny Cash guitar style intro. This version is the shortest I have ever heard. Right after this he jumps into 'Blue Christmas', a typical "summer song" for Elvis. Even of more significance is it that Elvis this night performed 'Softly, As I Leave You'. This was the first time he performed 'Softly...' outside Las Vegas, and also the last. Perhaps Elvis needed to feel sort of home to perform it.

His mood is on top during the band-intros, and after this Elvis sings 'Hurt' twice. Good versions, but not outstanding. 'Help Me' wasn't all in a days work for Elvis at this time, and this version is ok. Even 'How Great Thou Art', 'Polk Salad Annie' and 'It's Now Or Never' are served to the audience. Before 'It's Now Or Never' Elvis also sings some lines of Jambalaya'.
One must say that this is in general is a good concert. Still, there is something lacking. Elvis doesn't seem to be over-energetic, and some songs are performed below good standard. I think this is a fact for 'Love Letters'. Somehow you get the impression that Elvis goes on battery, and that it is not Duracell.... This version is slow, sometimes off-key, whining and all in all downright boring.

On July 13th Vernon fired Dave Hebler, Sonny and Red West. They were fired because of the trouble they had caused for Elvis. Several times they had been rough on people, and this caused lawsuits against Elvis. Vernon however told Red West that they were fired because of cut on expenses. The business was not as great as it used to be he told them. All three got angry, if not for being fired, so at least for the fact that Elvis didn't have the guts to do it himself. Red West; " What pissed us of, after all those years I had been with him, he never took the time to tell me himself. He just cut out and left it to his father to do. It was cold, man". Elvis traveled to Palm Springs the day Vernon did the dirty job. It was weak...
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On July 23rd a new tour began (Tour number 20). Elvis traveled without his entourage, only Charlie Hogde followed him. From this tour we have three soundboard-bootlegs. The evening concert in Charleston on July 24th was released on a bootleg called Hurt. This concert can be described as boring. Elvis must have been bored to death in this period; at least this is the impression he left the audience. That said, 'See See Rider' is a good delivery!
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Large portions of the concert in Hartford, July 28th was released on a bootleg called Across The Country Vol. 1. The concert is not bad as such, but as with the concert in Charleston some days before, Elvis sounds extremely bored and uninspired. Yes, even indifferent! Although he sort of have a good humorous mood on stage, you can tell that Elvis' mind is somewhere else than in the actual arena he is performing. Judging from the incomplete bootleg there were no real highlights in Hartford that Wednesday evening.
However, the popularity didn't seem to be less. On the mentioned concert in Hartford, July 28th every seat was sold out one month before the actual happening. In a Hartford paper you could read (June 19); ".... nobody slept on the street to get a ticket for Bob Dylan's concert, but Elvis fans spent the night there and thousands stood there in line Friday in 90 degrees to get hold of tickets to Elvis' concert, and he isn't expected before in 6 weeks. The line shaped 11am Thursday and about 500 people brought with them sleeping bags and chairs for the night".

On July 27th Linda Thompson told that Elvis was self-destructive and she could no longer stand to see him hurt himself anymore. Because of this she moved out of Graceland. Another story is that Elvis tried his best to get rid of Linda, without any luck. There is even a story that Elvis hired private investigator John O' Grady to kick her out.
Elvis In Summer 1976
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The concert in New Haven on July 30 was released by FTD on New Haven '76. It is a very poor concert, with an exhausted Elvis struggling on stage. Elvis is quite talkative during the concert and he is surprisingly coherent, though. The run through of old hits works fine; it doesn't take much energy in any given shape! 'And I Love You So' on the other hand is off-key and the most uninspired version of the song I have ever heard.
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On July 31st and August 1st, Elvis was in Hampton Roads. Fans should know this place, as it was here major parts of 'Elvis On Tour' were filmed. That was 4 years ago, and time had been rough on Elvis. Fort Baxter released the August 1st concert on The Bicentennial Elvis Experience. It is a horrifying concert. Elvis is so weak in his voice that it is unbearable to listen to. Before 'Love Me' Elvis says he just got up from bed. Well, during this concert it becomes evident that he would have been better off staying in bed.
Not even 'If You Love Me' is performed well. He just can't make it! The period from September and October 1974 spring in mind. The concert that was released on A Profile Vol. 2 from College Park September 28th 1974 is very similar. Surely Elvis understood that this concert in Hampton wasn't going to be a milestone, and maybe because of this he decided to respond on a request for 'Return To Sender'. At least he starts to sing it promptly after the request, and in fact he does it well. He also sang this song in Lake Tahoe on May 9 earlier this year. During the introduction of 'Johnny B. Goode', Elvis names James Burton as "John", but after some laughter from Sweet Inspiration, he clarifies the reason why he messed it up..." John, Matthew, Mark, Luke...."

The last concert on this tour was in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Allegedly Elvis became ill after this concert and had to be rushed to his hotel for sedation. The day after he flew home to Graceland. Then he had 3 weeks rest before tour number 21.

On August 21st, RCA distributed a press release announcing that sales of Elvis Presley records had passed the 400-million mark. This was much more than any other singer had achieved. Elvis was a goldmine for the record company RCA. He still is today!
Elvis In Summer 1976
Tour number 21 started in San Antonio, Texas. Pal Granlund from Norway have seen over 30 show, and says that this concert is the worst he ever saw. The next day was even worse. In Houston Elvis was weak as never before and had problems moving around. The review in Houston Post was also very bad. The writer says that Elvis totally broke his heart. "The concert was terrible, a depressing, silly, amateurish mess, served by a fat, stumbling and mumbling figure who didn't at all behaved himself like a "King" of Rock'n Roll". The audience was shocked, someone said "Oh, my God, what is wrong with him. He can't even complete his sentences".

The reporter wrote that when Elvis wanted to say "Ladies And Gentlemen", it sounded more like "ladishandshgennimen". Tony Brown, his piano player at the moment, tells that this probably was the worst Elvis concert ever. "He was worse there than in Maryland (Sept. 1974)...It was a sorry show. And the next night...Okay again." Tony also says that the concert Elvis performed in Forth Worth June 4th 1976 was the best Elvis ever did. So it certainly was up and down for Elvis in Summer 1976.
The concert in Tuscaloosa, on August 30th was released by DAE on the bootleg Old Time They Are Not Forgotten. This was DAE's first release, and what a start. This is probably the best sounding bootleg on the marked. The mixing is even better than what RCA manage to create.

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The concert is not that good, I'm afraid. It is a fair show, not bad, but still lacking something. It is said that Elvis on this day was very sick. If that is a fact, he surely manages to cope all right. There is, however, a story about Elvis hardly giving a little girl any attention when she comes to the stage, wanting Elvis' autograph on her arm. Still, on this concert Elvis sings a great version of 'Jailhouse Rock'. You can in fact hear the lyrics of the song, and the tempo of it is slowed down a lot, compared to other versions of the song in 1976 and especially 1977. Cool!

Also the beginning of 'Hound Dog' is funny, but one song knocks out everything else. Here Elvis sings a perfect version of 'Love Letters'. The sound, the timing, the voice, everything matches 100 %. A class act! After having Kathy Westmoreland do 'My Heavenly Father', he says that her act is hard to follow. He was right, but sings a fair version of 'Mystery Train/Tiger Man'. The version is weak at times, and it was time to close the concert.
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The day after Elvis performed in Macon, Georgia. Luxor released this concert on a bootleg called Southbound. In addition to the songs Elvis sang in Tuscaloosa, he also sings 'That's Alright, Mama' and 'Blue Christmas'. This is not a good concert, but the sound on the bootleg is great. Luxor has yet to disappoint us.
Before a show in Huntsville on September 6th, Joe Mescale, leader of The Imperials met Elvis. He tells that Elvis cleared every one in the room out, except for him and Sheila Ryan. Elvis hold Joe's neck, put his forehead to his and just hugged him. Elvis told Joe he was so sick "I don't even want to be here...."

The evening concert from Hunstville was released on the bootleg Still Rocking The Nation. This is really an "all in days work" concert. Right from 'See See Rider' to the last song. Elvis even forgets the lyrics to 'America'. And 'Love Letters' is shaky like several others attempts on this song during the summer time. Still, some "magic" moments occur when Elvis sings 'That's All Right' and 'Blue Christmas'. Also the 'Mystery Train/Tiger Man' - medley is well delivered, although Elvis also forgets the lyrics to this last mentioned!

The tour ended on September 8th in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.


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Tour 19 (June 25th - July 5th)
See See Rider
I Got A Woman/Amen
Love Me
If You Love Me
You Gave Me A Mountain
All Shook Up
And I Love You So
Jailhouse Rock
Hound Dog
Fever
America The Beautiful
Polk Salad Annie
Love Letters
Hurt
Funny How Time Slips Away
Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
Hound Dog
It's Now Or Never
Can't Help Falling In Love
Burning Love
Love Me Tender
Blue Suede Shoes
Help Me
Fairytale
How Great Thou Art
Little Darlin'
Blue Christmas
American Trilogy (July 4th)
Softly As I Leave You (July 5th)
That's All Right (July 5th)
One Night (July 5th)
Early Mornin' Rain
What 'd I Say?
Johnny B. Goode
Jambalaya (July 5th)
Happy Birthday
Tour 20 (July 23rd - Aug 5th)
See See Rider
I Got A Woman/Amen
Love Me
If You Love Me
Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
You Gave Me A Mountain
All Shook Up
And I Love You So
Jailhouse Rock
Hound Dog
Fever
America The Beautiful
Polk Salad Annie
Love Letters
Hurt
Hound Dog
Funny How Time Slips Away
Can't Help Falling In Love
Help Me
Hawaiian Wedding Song
Return To Sender (August 1)
Early Mornin' Rain
What 'd I Say?
Johnny B. Goode
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Tour 21 (Aug 27th - Sept 8th)
See See Rider
I Got A Woman/Amen
Love Me
If You Love Me
You Gave Me A Mountain
All Shook Up
And I Love You So
Jailhouse Rock
Hound Dog
Fever
America The Beautiful
Polk Salad Annie
Love Letters
Hurt
Hound Dog
Funny How Time Slips Away
Teddy Bear/Don't Be Cruel
Can't Help Falling In Love
Burning Love
That's All Right
Love Me Tender
Blue Suede Shoes
Help Me
Fairytale
How Great Thou Art
One Night
Blue Christmas
Mystery Train/Tiger Man
Early Mornin' Rain
What 'd I Say?
Johnny B. Goode
Happy Birthday
My Heavenly Father (K. Westmoreland)
Danny Boy (S. Nielsen)
 
 

Source:
- The Concert Years by Stein Erik Skar
- The Final Years by Jerry Hopkins
- The Ultimate Elvis by Patricia Jobe Pierce



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