Issue 15.6: Dec. 2012 / Jan. 2013

Long Live the King

Story by Shantel Grace


On January 14, 1973, Elvis Presley strode onto a darkened stage at the Hawai‘i International Center arena, heralded by the grandiose tones of Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra—better known these days as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey. From there it was straight into “See See Rider,” and the hits just kept coming: “Burning Love,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Suspicious Minds.” Elvis was in rare form, clad in an American eagle white jumpsuit replete with red, white and blue rhinestones, curling that famous lip, shaking those infamous hips. The record-breaking concert reputedly became the most-watched broadcast by an individual entertainer in television history—it was seen live via satellite in more than forty countries.


Aloha from Hawaii was Elvis’ last concert in Honolulu, and it was a far cry from his first: That happened in November 1957, at the corner of King and Isenberg, where below a single string of boxing lights, Elvis ended his performance with an encore of the twelve-bar blues tune that made him famous, “Hound Dog.” Sixteen years later, playing to the masses, Elvis’ enduring love for the Islands was demonstrated in the songs he chose to sing (some of them from the three movies he filmed in Hawai‘i), the lei draped around his neck as he performed and the $75,000 he raised for Hawaiian composer Kui Lee’s cancer fund. In celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Aloha from Hawaii concert, it’ll be re-created at the Neal Blaisdell Center on January 14, 2013. The concert is the culminating event of a week of all things Elvis which will take place from January 10 to 15. For five days and six nights, Honolulu will witness an extravaganza of Elvis-related tours, tribute artist contests, as well as panel discussions with Presley’s movie co-stars, musicians, deejays and concert promoters like “Uncle” Tom Moffatt.


“You could see his love of Hawai‘i on his face,” says Moffatt, who spent time with Elvis over the years and was there at both the 1957 concert and the 1973 blowout. “To see this show again, in the original venue, is to watch history repeat itself.” The King is dead. Long live the King.