The Concert Seen Around the World: ‘Aloha from Hawaii’

Forty-five years ago, this month, Elvis made history in Hawaii.

Elvis’ iconic special, “Aloha from Hawaii,” aired on January 14, 1973, and it was the first entertainment special by a solo artist to be broadcast live around the world.

1972 and 1973 were great years to be Elvis fans. In 1972, Elvis released the documentary “Elvis on Tour,” giving fans a good long look at his concerts and the work that went into producing them. In fact, the “Aloha from Hawaii” concert was supposed to take place in November 1972, but MGM, who produced the documentary, feared it was too close to the movie’s opening. “Aloha” was pushed to January 1973. The November 1972 concerts happened, anyway, but they weren’t filmed.

At this press conference, Elvis said he loved performing live for his fans.

At this press conference, Elvis said he loved performing live for his fans.

Two press conferences were held to promote “Aloha.” The first was on September 4, 1972, in Las Vegas, followed by a second on at Hawaiian Hilton Village in November 1972.

Elvis arrived in Hawaii on January 9, 1973, to begin rehearsals. Naturally, such a big production needed a few back-up plans and extra precautions. Elvis had two of the exact same jumpsuits made for the show, including one to wear in the dress rehearsal on January 12. In fact, that dress rehearsal was also filmed, just in case there were issues with the satellite broadcast and the rehearsal show needed to be broadcast instead.

Elvis had just celebrated his 38th birthday on January 8.

Elvis had just celebrated his 38th birthday on January 8.

Elvis took the stage just after midnight, Hawaii time, on January 14.

Naturally, Elvis wanted to use the concert to give back. There was no set ticket price for the concert; instead, donations were given. The more the donation, the better the seat. Elvis actually purchased a ticket for himself and his entourage at $100 each (which, with inflation, would be over $575 in today’s money).

He asked that donations and merchandise sales go to the Kui Lee Cancer Fund, which had been established following the songwriter’s death in 1966. Lee wrote hits like “Ain’t No Big Thing,” “The Days of My Youth” and “I’ll Remember You,” which Elvis covered in many of his concerts, including in the “Aloha” special. The goal was to raise $25,000, but – of course – that goal was surpassed. A total of $75,000 was raised for the fund.

The 'Aloha' concerts were filmed at the Honolulu International Center (now known as the Neal S. Blaisdell Center).

The ‘Aloha’ concerts were filmed at the Honolulu International Center (now known as the Neal S. Blaisdell Center).

Elvis’ “Aloha from Hawaii” aired in more than 40 countries across Asia and Europe. The special didn’t air in the United States on January 14, though. There was another major TV moment happening on U.S. televisions on January 14 – a little thing called Super Bowl VII – so “Aloha from Hawaii” aired on April 4. It is estimated, though, that between 1 and 1.5 billion viewers watched the king’s special.

The setlist included hits like "See See Rider," "Burning Love," "You Gave Me a Mountain," "Suspicious Minds," "Fever," "Hound Dog" and "I Can't Stop Loving You."

The setlist included hits like “See See Rider,” “Burning Love,” “You Gave Me a Mountain,” “Suspicious Minds,” “Fever,” “Hound Dog” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”

Celebrate everything about “Aloha from Hawaii” at Elvis: The Entertainer Career Museum at Elvis Presley’s Memphis at Graceland. The museum features his incredible American Eagle jumpsuit, and you can watch scenes from the concert in the museum’s theater. Go to Graceland.com now to plan your visit!

And if you love “Aloha,” pick up some sweet “Aloha” swag from Shop Graceland! Merch includes T-shirts, jewelry, photos, DVDs, ornaments and more.


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