Pam Pardy-Ghent: Long Live the King

As someone in their 50th year on this planet, I can testify that while five decades of living provides a greater prospective to life in general it is also interesting when it comes to reflection. 

1969 was an incredible year for change and advancement but it also had its share of what the heck moments. 

The end of the ’60s was the resettlement age. Houses were floating and lives and through-the-kitchen-sheer-window views were changing as families gave up isolation and one room school houses for the promise of bigger and better things. 

The world beyond our shores was changing too and the summer of ’69 was quite an eventful one. From moon landings and the infamous Manson murders to Woodstock and the final episode of Star Trek airing; wild and crazy things taunted the dawning of the ’70s.

Changes in rock ‘n’ roll

The Beatles ruled the charts as Get Back stayed at number one that summer. Another British invader, The Who, released Tommy, creating not only Pinball Wizards but also tossing down the gauntlet when it came to music creation as the rock opera was born. 

Rock ‘n’ roll was changing, but in the midst of all that dawn of a new age stuff, one performer reinvented himself by going back to his performing roots. In 1969 The King returned to the stages of Las Vegas and once again took the world by storm, only this time, instead of being the great divider – for Elvis and his famous pelvis was once the rebel’s soundtrack – this time the man in the sparkly pantsuit united generations. 

While it’s been Long Live The King since his tragic death on August 16, 1977 in Graceland, by the end of the ’60s Elvis was pretty much retired when it came to live performances. 

When he returned from the army, the silver screen beckoned and the call was headed. Screen replaced stage and the silk sweat soaked scarfs stayed in the closets and drawers of those lucky enough to have caught one ‘back in the day.’ 

When Elvis took the Vegas stage for his comeback on July 31, 1969, the singing sensation’s star shone bigger and brighter than ever. While 1956 to ’63 might have been Elvis the screaming teenage dream years, suddenly Elvis became the soundtrack to lives for multiple generations.

Rock extravaganza 

Elvis had married Priscilla two years prior and had become a dad in the last year. He was hungry to reclaim the stage and he did that in Vegas and then some. Elvis may have invented rock ‘n’ roll in the ’50s, but in ’69 he claimed his crown. He was once again king of the stage and the must-see live legend having turned his Vegas stage show into a must see anywhere rock extravaganza. 

Of course, some would say this comeback was also his downfall. Multiple shows and sold out cities increased his dependence on drugs and shady life choices, but in the glory of 50 years of hindsight, the story of Elvis is the stuff lasting legends are made of; no comeback concert required. 

Long live The King.

Pam Pardy Ghent, The Herald’s Managing Editor, can be reached by emailing [email protected]

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