The early ‘70s were huge for Elvis. Shows in Las Vegas – complete with the now-iconic Elvis jumpsuits – broke attendance records and he continued to record. He made history with his “Aloha from Hawaii” special and returned to the top of the music charts. Elvis and Priscilla also divorced during this time.
Elvis returns to the International Hotel for another month-long engagement. This time, he breaks his own attendance records. The iconic one-piece Elvis jumpsuits debut and karate moves are now an even bigger part of his stage show. The live album for these Elvis shows in Las Vegas, dubbed "On Stage," is recorded in February and will be shipped in June. It will reach #13 on the album chart.
A press conference is held in Houston on the 27th. Elvis performs afternoon and evening shows at the Houston Astrodome. Two more shows follow on both February 28 and March 1. A closing press conference and banquet follow and Elvis is presented an armload of recent gold record awards. The six shows attract 207,494 people and sets records. There is speculation among the press and the public that Elvis might tour in concert for the first time since the fifties.
April 20, 1970
The single “The Wonder of You” is released and hits #9.
In Nashville, Elvis records several singles and the material for the albums “Elvis Country” and “Love Letters From Elvis.”
Elvis returns to Vegas for what the Colonel has now dubbed “The Elvis Presley Summer Festival.” This is another month-long engagement of Elvis shows in Las Vegas at the International. He opens on August 10 and closes on September 7. MGM is on hand to shoot a documentary film called “Elvis -That’s the Way It Is” that will show Elvis off stage, in rehearsals, in the recording studio, and on stage. RCA will also release an album with the same title.
Starting on September 9 through September 14, Elvis takes his show on a nine-city tour. It is a smashing success, the first tour since 1957. MGM films portions of the first show on this tour for use in “Elvis - That’s the Way It Is.”
Elvis has a recording session in Nashville to finish up the albums started in June.
October 9, 1970
Elvis buys his first Stutz Blackhawk, a 1971 model.
October 19, 1970
The first order of 12 TCB necklaces is picked up from Schwartz and Ableser Jewelers in Beverly Hills.
November 11, 1970
“Elvis, That’s The Way It Is,” Elvis' 32nd film, opens in theaters to good reviews and good box office. An album of the same title is released, but only one song, "I Just Can't Help Believin'," is actually from a stage performance included in the film. The other songs are studio recordings, some of which Elvis performs live on stage or in rehearsal footage in the film. The album peaks at #21 on the album chart.
December 4, 1970
Elvis and Priscilla complete the purchase of another home in California at 144 Monovale for $339,000.
December 21, 1970
Elvis’ famous visit with President Richard Nixon at the White House occurs. Today, copies of the photos from that meeting are the most requested documents from our National Archives.
January 16, 1971
Elvis attends a day of functions culminating in an evening awards banquet. He and nine others accept the honor of being named One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (The Jaycees). He is nervous about his acceptance speech. He is touched, excited and deeply proud. This national honor has been given each year since the late 1930’s and recognizes young men who have made great achievements in their field of endeavor, illustrating the opportunities available in the free enterprise system. It also applauds humanitarianism and community service. Scientists, inventors, performers, film makers, politicians bound for the Presidency, and men of greatness in all fields, have been selected for this award over the years. For Elvis, a man who grew up poor, and, in his early career knew the sting of ridicule from the Establishment, who, through the years has known criticism of his work, this is one of his proudest moments. It is a sign that he has achieved acceptance, recognition, and respect for his work.
Late January/February 1971
Elvis plays another month-long engagement at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.
Elvis begins a recording session in Nashville, but cancels it due to pain and inflammation in an eye. He is treated at a Nashville hospital where he is diagnosed with secondary glaucoma.
Elvis is featured on the cover of “Look Magazine,” which carries an installment of the forthcoming biography on Elvis by Jerry Hopkins. Many books and articles have been written over the years, but this is the first in-depth, serious biography. The book, “Elvis : A Biography,” will be released in October.
Elvis has recording sessions in Nashville. Much of the work is for his forthcoming album “Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas.”
The two-room house Elvis was born in opens to the public for tours in Tupelo. The house was restored by the East Heights Garden Club in Tupelo. Elvis has more recording sessions in Nashville, this time mostly for an upcoming gospel album, “He Touched Me.” In addition, a long stretch of Highway 51 South, part of which runs in front of Graceland, is officially renamed Elvis Presley Boulevard. The first of the new street signs will go up in January of 1972. Various albums and singles continue to be released to various degrees of success during this period.
Elvis plays a two-week engagement at the Sahara Hotel in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. With this first appearance at the Sahara Tahoe, “2001” will now be Elvis’ entrance theme for his concert shows. He breaks attendance records for this venue.
August 9 - September 6, 1971
Elvis plays an engagement in Las Vegas at the International Hotel, which has been renamed the Las Vegas Hilton International Hotel. This run of Elvis shows in Las Vegas tops his previous attendance records once again. During the engagement, an award is presented to Elvis in his dressing room. It is the Bing Crosby Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the organization that also presents Grammy awards. This award is a special means of recognition from NARAS and is named for its first recipient. The award is not given every year as a rule. It will later be renamed the Lifetime Achievement Award. Elvis is 36 years old.
November 5 - 12, 1971
Elvis goes on a 12-city concert tour. J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet have now replaced The Imperials and Jackie Kahane is now the opening comedian. The famous Elvis jumpsuits now feature matching capes.
Late 1971 - Early 1972
Elvis and Priscilla separate. She moves out on her own with Lisa Marie.
January 26 - February 23, 1972
Elvis plays another successful engagement at the Hilton in Vegas.
In April, MGM films Elvis in a Hollywood recording studio and then on and off stage during his 15-city concert tour. MGM will use the footage for another theatrically released documentary, “Elvis on Tour.” In April, the gospel album “He Touched Me” is released to good reviews. The album will go on to win Elvis his second Grammy Award, this one for the category of Best Inspirational Performance.
Elvis continues touring in concert, beginning with a press conference in New York on the June 9. MGM is on hand to film the conference for use in “Elvis on Tour.” Elvis makes entertainment history by performing four sold-out shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden. John Lennon, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, David Bowie and Art Garfunkel are among the music stars spotted at the shows. Nine days after it is recorded, RCA rush-releases a live album from one of the shows, “Elvis as Recorded at Madison Square Garden.” Elvis tours to seven more cities.
Elvis' Vegas and concert tour career is hot during the early to mid-seventies. He breaks attendance records in cities all over America. Record releases also continue.
July 26, 1972
Elvis and Priscilla’s separation is formalized. A divorce is to come. Elvis has begun seeing Linda Thompson, who will be his main female companion until late 1976.
August 4 - September 4, 1972
Elvis plays a month-long engagement at the Hilton in Vegas.
September 4, 1972
A press conference held between the dinner and midnight Elvis shows in Las Vegas, announces plans for a television concert to be broadcast via satellite around the world from Hawaii. It is predicted that the show will reach the largest audience in television history and that the live album will be a big hit.
Elvis has a number two pop hit with the single “Burning Love,” one of his biggest records in recent years.
“Elvis on Tour” opens to good reviews and good box office performance in theaters. Later, its producers will receive the Golden Globe Award for Best Documentary of 1972. Elvis also tours seven cities in concert. The last is Honolulu, Hawaii, where he does three shows at the Honolulu International Center Arena, the same venue that will host his satellite special in January.
November 20, 1972
Elvis appears at a press conference in Hawaii regarding his upcoming satellite show. It is announced that it will be a benefit for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund.
Elvis makes television and entertainment history with his “Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii - Via Satellite” special. The show is performed at the Honolulu International Center Arena on January 14, 1973, broadcast live at 12:30 a.m. Hawaiian time, and beamed via Globecam Satellite to Australia, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, South Vietnam and other countries. It is seen on a delayed basis in around 30 European countries. A tape of the show is seen in America on April 4 on NBC. The live broadcast in January attracts 37.8% of the viewers in Japan, 91.8% in the Philippines, 70% in Hong Kong, and 70-80% of the viewers in Korea. The April showing in America attracts 51% of the television viewing audience and is seen in more American households than man’s first walk on the moon. In all, it will be seen in about 40 countries by one billion to 1.5 billion people. Elvis commissions an American Eagle design for his jumpsuit for this show, his patriotic message to his worldwide audience and one of the most memorable Elvis jumpsuits. Never has one performer held the world’s attention in such a way. Elvis is in top form physically and vocally. This is probably the pinnacle of his super-stardom, one of the all-time great moments of his career.
Audience tickets for the January 12 pre-broadcast rehearsal show and January 14 concert carry no price. Each audience member is asked to pay whatever he or she can. The performances and concert merchandise sales are a benefit raising $75,000 for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund in Hawaii. Kui Lee was a Hawaiian composer who had died of cancer while still in his thirties.
On stage with Elvis is an orchestra and his current show cast: Joe Guercio (conductor); J.D. Sumner & the Stamps (vocals); The Sweet Inspirations (vocals); Kathy Westmoreland (soprano vocals); Charlie Hodge (guitar/vocals/on-stage assistance); James Burton (lead guitar); John Wilkinson (rhythm guitar); Jerry Scheff (bass guitar); Glen D. Hardin (piano); and Ronnie Tutt (drums).
The soundtrack album is soon released and goes to #1 on the Billboard pop album chart, and stays on the chart at various positions for 52 weeks.
In the special, Elvis' recording of the theme song from his 1965 movie “Paradise, Hawaiian Style” plays over the opening credits with scenes of his helicopter arrival at the airport and his walking among the fans who are there to greet him. The concert opens with Elvis' band playing his traditional introduction for his seventies concerts, the “Theme from 2001.” He sings “See, See Rider,” “Burning Love,” “Something,” “You Gave Me a Mountain,” “Steamroller Blues,” “My Way,” “Love Me,” “Johnny B. Goode,” “It’s Over,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Hound Dog,” “What Now, My Love,” “Fever,” “Welcome to My World,” “Suspicious Minds,” “I’ll Remember You” (a Kui Lee composition Elvis sings after announcing the sum raised for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund.), “Long Tall Sally/Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “An American Trilogy,” “Big Hunk o’ Love,” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” The show is one hour, including commercials. After the show, Elvis and his bandmates come back out on stage in the empty arena and videotape performances of the songs “Blue Hawaii,” “Ku-u-i-po” and “Hawaiian Wedding Song,” which he had first done for his 1961 hit movie “Blue Hawaii,” plus “Early Morning Rain” and “No More.” All but the song “No More” will be inserted into the American broadcast with Elvis seen on a montage screen with footage of Hawaiian scenery.
January 26 - February 23, 1973
Elvis plays an engagement at the Las Vegas Hilton.
January 28, 1973
“Elvis on Tour” co-wins a Golden Globe Award with “Walls of Fire” as best feature documentary of 1972.
In Las Vegas, Elvis presents boxer Muhammad Ali with a specially made robe for Ali’s upcoming title fight with Joe Bugner. Ali gave Elvis autographed boxing gloves.
March 1, 1973
Elvis and Colonel Parker sell Elvis’ music rights to date to RCA and Elvis enters into a new seven-year recording contract with RCA. Elvis and Colonel Parker also sign a new management contract as well, becoming 50 – 50 partners.
April 4, 1973
The Aloha special is seen on American television for the first time and garners 57% of the viewing audience.
April 19, 1973
Elvis’ paternal grandfather Jessie Presley dies of a heart attack in Louisville.
Late April 1973
Elvis goes on an eight-city concert tour.
May 4 - 16, 1973
Elvis plays an engagement at the Sahara Hotel in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
The Aloha from Hawaii concert album hits #1 on the Billboard pop album chart. It is his first #1 album since the “Roustabout” soundtrack album in 1965. It will also be his last #1 album on the pop chart.
June 20 - July 3, 1973
Elvis goes out on concert tour.
Elvis records a few songs at the Stax Recording Studio in Memphis for the album "Raised on Rock.” This was his first time to record in Memphis since 1969.
August 6 - September 3, 1973
Elvis goes back to the Vegas Hilton for another engagement.
October 9, 1973
Elvis and Priscilla make a court appearance together and their divorce is granted. They continue to be close friends. Though Elvis and Priscilla have joint custody of Lisa Marie, there will be no formal schedule of visitation for Elvis, and he and his daughter will spend time together regularly.
Elvis returns to the Stax Recording Studio in Memphis for a week of sessions. He records the albums "Promised Land" and "Good Times."
Learn more about Elvis' life and career from 1974 - 1977. Also, be sure to keep up with the latest Elvis news by following @VisitGraceland on Twitter or liking Elvis Presley's Graceland on Facebook.