45 Years Ago: Elvis Presley Sells Out Madison Square Garden
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THE OFFICIAL BLOG OF GRACELAND

Welcome to the official blog of Elvis Presley’s Graceland! You can take Elvis-inspired quizzes, get first-looks on events here at Graceland and how-to guides on everything you need to know about Elvis and his home. Like Elvis, we come with a little southern charm

45 Years Ago: Elvis Presley Sells Out Madison Square Garden

The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll shattered many records during his incredible career. Forty-five years ago this weekend, he became the first entertainer in history to sell out four consecutive shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Elvis’ Madison Square Garden shows were the first time Elvis performed in front of a live audience in New York since his TV appearances on the Dorsey Brothers, Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan shows in 1956 and 1957. Elvis performed before an audience of 20,000 fans at each of the four shows that took place June 9-11, 1972 (that’s a total of 80,000 fans for the entire weekend). Initially, only three shows were booked, but those sold out instantly, so the fourth show on June 11 was added.

Elvis spoke about fame, his career and more at the press conference. Elvis spoke about fame, his career and more at the press conference.

Elvis held a press conference on June 9 at the New York Hilton, where he candidly answered questions from reporters. Here are a few of those questions and answers:

Reporter: You used to be criticized so much for our long hair and gyrations, and you seem so modest now.

Elvis: Man, I was tame compared to what they do now, are you kidding…I didn't do anything but just jiggle.

Reporter: Elvis, are you satisfied with the image you've established?

Elvis: Well the image is one thing; a human being is another.

Reporter: How close does it come? How close does the image come to the man you really are?

Elvis: It's very hard to live up to an image. I'll put it that way.

Reporter: Why do you think you've outlasted every other entertainer from the fifties, and for that matter, the sixties as well?

Elvis: I take Vitamin E. (laughs) I was only kidding. I don't know. I just…embarrass myself. I don't know dear, I just enjoy the business. I like what I'm doing.

Elvis used the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey" for his grand entrance at each Madison Square Garden show. Photo by George Kalinsky. Elvis used the theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey" for his grand entrance at each Madison Square Garden show. Photo by George Kalinsky.

Elvis’ setlist for all four shows included his early hits, fan-favorite songs from his movies and newer hit songs. “American Trilogy,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “That’s All Right,” “Suspicious Minds,” “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” were all included at each of the shows. David Bowie, Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Art Garfunkel were spotted at the shows.

Madison Square Garden's official photographer, George Kalinsky, captured Elvis' historic concerts. Madison Square Garden's official photographer, George Kalinsky, captured Elvis' historic concerts.

Elvis received rave reviews in three features in the New York Times.

"He looked like a prince from another planet, narrow-eyed, with high Indian cheek bones and a smooth brown skin untouched by his 37 years,” Chris Chase wrote in the Times. “When Elvis started to work with the mike, his right hand flailing air, his left leg moving as though it had a life of its own, time stopped, and everyone in the place was 17 again… Elvis used the stage, he worked to the people. The ones in front, in the best seats, the ones in back, and up in the peanut galleries. He turned, he moved, and when a girl threw a handkerchief on the stage, he wiped his forehead with it and threw it back, a gift of sweat from an earthy god.”

In addition to Elvis, Madison Square Garden has hosted many music legends, including John Lennon, Led Zeppelin, George Harrison, Madonna, U2, Elton John and many more. Photo by George Kalinsky. In addition to Elvis, Madison Square Garden has hosted many music legends, including John Lennon, Led Zeppelin, George Harrison, Madonna, U2, Elton John and many more. Photo by George Kalinsky.

Nine days after the last Madison Square Garden show, RCA released a live album from one of the shows, called “Elvis as Recorded at Madison Square Garden.”

If you want to learn more about Elvis’ career, see his famous dazzling jumpsuits and check out his amazing display of Gold, Platinum and Diamond Awards, you’ve got to visit Graceland. You can find artifacts from his record-breaking career in our new museum, Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum. Make your plans today to get to know the “prince from another planet.”

Posted by Elvis Presley's Graceland at 3:10 PM
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