Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Check out These Five Iconic Concerts Elvis Held in Louisville in Honor of the King’s Birthday

As the new year rolls around, there's another date approaching that has some Louisville residents "all shook up."

Every January 8th, Elvis Presley fans around the world remember the King's birthday. For Elvis lovers in Louisville, there's plenty to reminisce about. The King of Rock and Roll made many stops in Louisville throughout his career, playing sold-out shows and singing his way into the history of Louisville and the hearts of its residents. As we remember the King's birthday this year, let's take a look at the five concerts Elvis played here that have stood the test of time.

1956 at the Jefferson County Armory: A New Superstar Appears on the Scene

Although Elvis Presley's first official Louisville concert was held in 1956 at the Jefferson County Armory (which is now known as the Louisville Gardens), he had actually played in Louisville before. In 1955, prior to his appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show and his break into stardom, Elvis had played a private function at Louisville's Rialto Theater, appearing third on the bill. A year later Elvis headlined this sold-out show at the Armory, which has been preserved in part by silent video footage.

1971 at Freedom Hall: The King Returns

In part because of family connections, Elvis returned several times to Louisville throughout his career. Elvis' grandparents, Jesse and Vera Presley, lived in South Louisville - and whenever the King came to town he made sure to visit them. His next performance in Louisville wouldn't come again until 1971, however, when he played these three dates at Freedom Hall.

1974 at Freedom Hall: "They Can't Stop Lovin' Elvis"

Elvis would return once again to Freedom Hall in 1974. A newspaper review from 1974 with the headline "They Can't Stop Lovin' Elvis" said that "About 20,000 Presleyites turned out for the rock 'n roll king's return to Louisville after four years. A majority of those were squirming, squeaking, heart-clutching women - young and old. Just the thought of him or the mention of his name evoked squeals of adoration."

1976 at Freedom Hall: "Still Their King"

Two years later Elvis was back at Freedom Hall again for another memorable performance. As Elvis' career approached its final years, one newspaper review from the Louisville Courier-journal with the headline "Still Their King" said that Elvis was once again greeted with "moans and screams of ecstasy" from fans as he took the stage.

1977 at Freedom Hall: A Final Farewell

1977 would mark Elvis' final appearance at Freedom Hall and his final visit to Louisville. Elvis appeared in his final Louisville concert on May 21st, and three months later, passed away. His legacy, however, remains strong in Louisville to this day.

These five performances mark all of Elvis' official appearances in Louisville. However, Elvis may have visited Louisville at other times to see his grandparents, and local legend also claims that Elvis even once held an unannounced performance at Louisville's Colonial Gardens. For any Presley fan who had a chance to witness Elvis at any of these performances, the experience has been a memorable or even life-changing event, and each of these concerts has marked a special piece of Louisville history for rock 'n roll fans.

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